Max Hall and Austin Collie are hooked at the hip.
They might as well be twins, Siamese twins, sharing organs and food.
They think alike. They share the same confidence. They're the last guys off the practice field every day. They've formed a very strong bond this past year as both tried to forge every single advantage they could from one another as BYU shifted from the John Beck era to the day of the Cougar sophomore offense.
But Hall/Collie also proved costly at times. Here's a key glimpse at one storyline of the Las Vegas Bowl.
Hall sometimes locks on to Collie too much. Defenders tend to jump those routes. Back in September, UCLA corner Trey Brown, got a pick-six off such a jump on a Hall lock-on pass to Collie.
At times, this year it's been obvious.
At other times, it simply hasn't mattered one iota if Hall burned a laser dot on Collie's helmet before the pass. Defenders simply could not stop it. Even on fourth and 18.
Like Collie did against Arizona's Antoine Cason, UCLA's Brown and Utah's Brice McCain, the sophomore draws an opponent's best cover defender.
And if you add up the totals, Hall/Collie usually won more than they lost.
Hall/Collie have a swagger factor in the double digits. Most of that is because they've primarily camped out together on the practice field the past 11 months.
You might remember the last time BYU and UCLA met in Pasadena, Brown broke up five passes. He got that first-quarter interception against Hall and ran it back 56 yards for UCLA's first touchdown. Until then, with 1:58 left in the first quarter, UCLA's offense hadn't mustered much at all.
That Brown play, plus bone-jarring hits on Hall by UCLA's defensive end Bruce Davis, proved the biggest factors in why the Bruins won.
If you break it down, Brown's pick proved gigantic and pricey in the game. Brown got it against a novice Hall/Collie.
On that TD interception, BYU left offensive tackle Dallas Reynolds, sprinted across the field in an attempt to catch Brown and got injured. Because of Reynolds' injury and subsequent replacements failing at protecting Hall's blindside, Hall suffered some big hit (Davis) and turned the ball over and those turnovers doomed BYU.
TV announcers had it wrong when they blamed Reynolds' left side protection problems for sacks by UCLA's Bruce Davis on Hall the remainder of the game. BYU coaches say Reynolds never gave up a sack while in the game.
Those little things loomed enormous that day in Southern L.A.
A week from today in Sam Boyd Stadium, those same little things might prove key once again.
Davis will get a healthy Reynolds this time.
That day was Hall's second major college game of his career. He made mistakes. He fumbled and he lacked vision and feel for the pocket and pass rush.
Today, Hall is more polished and became the MWC's all-conference quarterback, amassing a league-high 3,648 passing yards.
Collie is better, wiser than that Rose Bowl day, his second game since a two-year mission service in Argentina. Since UCLA, Collie's had 719 of his 839 season reception yards, basically missing all the Air Force game with an ankle injury that also hindered him at UNLV despite a four-catch, 98-yard day against New Mexico sandwiched between AFA and the Rebels.
No brainer. Collie should have been a 1,000-yard receiver in 2007.
Statistically, Collie versus Brown worked for the Cougars, especially in the second half. Collie had seven catches for 79 yards in the game but four receptions for 66 yards and touchdown catches of five and 16 yards in the second half.
Both Collie touchdowns came with Brown defending.
"I'm sure it is going to be a great battle once again," Brown told reporters in Los Angeles this week.
"I'm sure he's anxious to get out on that field because we got the 'W.' We both know it will be a physical game and a tough matchup. It's going to be a great fight, so where's a better place to have it than in Las Vegas?"
There you have it.Just a taste. A breakdown of one bowl rematch feature that will be on stage in seven days.
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