Max Hall is sitting on a golden-type junior year at BYU. But he may be perched on something more telling this season.
He may just hold the reins of one of the best offenses in school history.
Its efficiency and weaponry were on center stage Saturday in BYU's historic first win over UCLA in Provo on Saturday. Throw in some turnovers and the Cougars dished out a 59-0 shellacking of the Bruins, a game that was over just after the national anthem.
Looking every bit the Master and Commander, Hall completed 27 of 35 passes for 271 yards and seven TDs with one interception, then sat down just minutes into the third quarter.
Hall's execution was superb. His supporting cast willing. Play calls were clutch, and the game plan by his coaches appeared, well ... like something in the realm of perfection.
If there is any question whether Hall belongs among the top quarterbacks at BYU, Saturday game may have elevated him to that status. Only two Cougar QBs have defeated UCLA Steve Young and Hall. And this was the second time for Hall in 370 days, as he pushed the Cougars atop the Pac-10 standings with a 2-0 record.
Hall: Paint him a fully invested and embedded BYU star.
It may have been fitting that Norm Chow was in the press box to witness the performance.
"I think he's an all-time guy," said Hall's coach, Brandon Doman.
"Our team takes on the personality of our quarterback," said BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall. "They're confident, poised and not afraid."
Said Doman: "I don't think BYU has had this much overall stacked talent in the skill position offensively, maybe ever. We've known this as an offensive staff, and we've spent a lot of time the past year trying to figure out how to get those guys the ball. We spend a lot of time on this game plan."
Don't get Doman started on Hall's O-line, there isn't time. Neither Washington nor UCLA laid a hand on him.
Taking advantage of UCLA turnovers, Hall sliced apart DeWayne Walker's Bruin defense the first two quarters Saturday, throwing a MWC-record six touchdown passes on 23-of-29 passing for 237 yards. His efficiency rating in the first half alone was a whopping 216.23.
Hall said his success comes from those around him.
"My offensive line is giving me all the time in the world to make my reads, and I feel very comfortable out there. I have a good cast around me," said the quarterback, citing jersey Nos. 9, 32, 45 and 3.
Hall is now 78 of 122 for 892 yards and 11 touchdowns against a Bruin program that had a commanding 7-2 series advantage on BYU before Saturday. Hall's final efficiency rating at LaVell Edwards Stadium was 202.
With the Bruins shadowing tight end Dennis Pitta, Hall took to his wideouts, Michael Reed and Austin Collie. The latter had a breakout game, abusing UCLA corner Alterraun Verner.
On display, in kind of a debut, were wrinkles thrown into the offense by Cougar coordinator Robert Anae. A bootleg play-action here, a fullback motion pass to halfback Harvey Unga there, a Hall option-play toss to Collie and a long post bomb to Collie.
Throw in the use of Unga as a slot receiver, and Pitta and Fui Vakapuna in the backfield sets with Unga, and one could say Anae certainly did not want a repeat of the Las Vegas Bowl, when the Cougars had to block a field goal to win because the offense looked stagnant against the Bruins.
Not this Saturday.
Hall's 7-yard TD strike to Unga at the 7:43 mark of the third quarter to put the Cougars up 48-0 tied BYU's school record of seven touchdowns, set in 1979 by Marc Wilson at Colorado State.
I was present in Fort Collins that day, and Wilson did not have the kind of supporting cast Hall so deftly unleashed against the Bruins on Saturday.
The big mystery Saturday was the Bruins. They looked as uninspired as the Cougars appeared fueled over a week of questioning about their one-point win at Washington.
This UCLA squad repeated its trunk-heavy act displayed at Rice-Eccles Stadium last year ugly.
UCLA's offense was shorthanded, missing a star receiver, running back and tight end to injury.
On the other hand, this was the butt-kicking, dominating win BYU certainly needed after dropping in the Associated Press poll last week following a road win in Pac-10 country.
Where BYU's defense had come under fire a week earlier in Seattle, on Saturday Jaime Hill's defenders made plays all over the field against Kevin Craft and Norm Chow's struggling unit. Playing corner Scott Johnson at safety got Brandon Bradley on the field at corner, but BYU's front seven took it to UCLA's banged-up offense all day long.
So, how good are the Cougars? And how bad are the Bruins? BYU's scrubs got in against Tennessee-killer UCLA but not against Northern Iowa.
The truth may lie somewhere in the middle, with one exception.Max Hall had it going Saturday. His inspired play and execution were as good as folks have seen at LES.
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