Max Hall is 17 games into his career as a college quarterback, and he's smart enough to know where he's been, what he's got going and what potential lies ahead.
Hall lays claim to a new era in BYU football: successfully defeating Pac-10 opponents on a regular basis.
Hall is 4-1 against the Pac-10, the most wins of any Cougar quarterback. (Steve Young went 2-0, Ty Detmer 2-2.) In just more than two seasons, BYU is 5-2 against the Pac-10 and has outscored teams from that BCS league 207-120 in the last seven meetings.
He's got the arm, the delivery and the protection. He reads defenses, and he's got the targets. Hall is competitive enough not to slide, give up or coast. So, what's ahead for this junior this season?
Hall says it will be consistency.
"That's the bottom line," said Hall. "We have the talent, we have the schemes, we have the coaches, and we have the offensive line. We just have to be consistent.
"We have to be excited, stay sharp, and really, what it comes down to, is me and my receivers being on the same page every single week and putting in the
time and work every day. If we do that, we are a very difficult offense to stop."
Hall tossed 26 touchdown passes last year but already has 15 touchdowns just one-third of the way through the 2008 season. His current pass-efficiency rating of 186 is significantly higher than his 137.71 rating after his sophomore year.
While Hall gives credit to his offensive line, receivers and backs, he's also praised BYU's defense, which has registered back-to-back shutouts.
How does that defense help the cause of BYU quarterbacks?
Historically, it's big time.
BYU's best scoring defense in the modern era was in 1985, when Robbie Bosco's offense averaged 490 yards and 31.6 points a game on the way to an 11-3 record. The defense, however, allowed just 13.3 points a game.
In 1979, Marc Wilson led the Cougars' offense to a whopping 531 yards a game and averaged 40.3 points a game, but BYU's defense chipped in by holding opponents to 13.6 points per game for that 11-1 team.
It was the second-best BYU scoring defense.
The biggest differential in BYU yards gained versus given up came in 1979 (245 yards per game).
The biggest differential in BYU points scored versus given up came in 1980, with current Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham as the Cougars' team captain (46.7 points scored compared to 18.9 allowed).
It's early with the stat game this season, but right now BYU/Hall and his friends are averaging 482 yards per game while allowing 302.8 and are scoring an average of 43.0 points per game while allowing an unprecedented 11-point average.
"The only defensive statistic we acknowledge is points allowed," said Bronco Mendenhall.
What that defense does, says center Dallas Reynolds, "is put the ball back in the hands of our offense."
Last Saturday, cornerback Scott Johnson and linebacker David Nixon basically scored 14 of BYU's 44 points against Wyoming.
In other words, Hall is enjoying some great team success.
Last Saturday, BYU's offense didn't get on the field against Wyoming until 10:09 of the first quarter. The first-string offense got pulled with six minutes left in the third quarter with a 41-0 lead.
It took 29 minutes of the game clock.
The 35 points the offense put up on UCLA in the second quarter is the most ever given up by the Bruins. BYU then scored 20 points in the second quarter against Wyoming and now is outscoring foes by a gaudy 75-7 margin in that quarter.
What that means, when backed by an opportunistic defense, is BYU can be extremely explosive.
It all begins on the offensive line, says Hall, who took the blame for the slow start last Saturday.
"First of all, those guys are doing a phenomenal job," said Hall. "We have great senior leadership.
Dallas Reynolds, aka "The Big Dog," is making his calls. He's doing a phenomenal job of keeping defensive tackles out of the backfield.
"Bottom line is those guys are tearing it up. I have plenty of time, there are big gaps for our guys to run through, and I feel great," Hall said. "This time last year I was trying to figure out how to play college football, how to make calls and figure out what the defenses are doing.
"Those guys take care of me. Nobody's really gotten to me this year, and it feels good."
A lot of Hall's success this season should also go to the BYU coaches, who spent the off-season researching blocking schemes and tweaking plays and formations to get the most out of their team's weapons. This included a visit to the Philadelphia Eagles andBYU alumnus Andy Reid.
When teased about being some kind of genius as a play-caller, offensive coordinator Robert Anae is quick to point to a simple magical formula this season. "It's 4-2-1-0," said Anae.
And what's that?
"Turnovers, ball security," said Anae.
"Four against Northern Iowa, 2 at Washington, 1 against UCLA and zero against Wyoming.It's all about ball security."
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