Let me begin by introducing myself and just give a brief history of my interest in college football. I began watching football in general at a very young age and my passion for the sport has just increased more and more as the years have gone by. I did not start paying very close attention to college football, religiously like I do now, until I was a freshman in college, but had always watched games here and there since I was a teenager. I went to school at a private University in Oklahoma not too far from Norman and naturally found myself rooting for the OU Sooners being that my school did not have a football team of it's own. I still have a lot to learn about the sport as the game is constantly evolving. I believe that one can never know enough about something and there is always something new to learn. My role on this site will be to continue posting the offseason discussions for NinersNation and to help carry us through the bowl season in looking at some of the key players that will be playing in these games. The main objective I think is to provide more insight for those that don't follow as regularly and give a more clear picture as to who we should be looking at for now and for the future.
Out of the three Bowl Games that there has been, two out of the first three have been great games to watch. Now we are moving in on some of the bigger name schools and I imagine it will only get more interesting from here on out. Tonight in The Maaco Las Vegas Bowl we will see the #14 ranked BYU Cougars taking on the #18 ranked Oregon State Beavers at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Cougars come in to this matchup with a record of 10-2 overall and 7-1 in the Mountain West Conference. The Beavers come in to this matchup with a record of 8-4 overall and 6-2 in the Pac-10. This should be a very interesting game with lots of players to put on the watch list. Both schools have produced great NFL talent (one of the most significant to Niners fans; Steve Young) and there are a few candidates in this game coming out as well. Below, we will take an in-depth look at some of the key players, stats, and other information regarding the game.
MAACO LAS VEGAS BOWL PREVIEW
The BYU Cougars shocked the world in their first game of the season taking out the #3 ranked Oklahoma Sooners along with Heisman winning Quarterback Sam Bradford. That game gave them all the confidence in the world and from there they took the NCAA by storm. This game will mark the fifth time in a row that the Cougars will appear in the Las Vegas Bowl. The Cougars are putting up 34.8 points a game and most likely will in this one as well. Losing the last time they appeared, the Cougars will look to bounce back and wipe the slate clean with a win tonight. Let's take a look at some of the key players now...
Key players to watch for the Cougars:
*Note: Inside the brackets next to the players names are the jersey numbers for those that don't follow these two teams on a regular basis to keep track of.
[# 15] Max Hall QB 6'1" 201 (Senior):
While Hall is not the biggest QB, he does not lack anything in the skill department. Hall has been one of the most efficient passers in college football. He will definitely have some scouts in the stands tonight and it will be his best opportunity to bump up is value in the 2010 NFL Draft. While Hall transfered from ASU, he still managed to rack up over 11,000+ yards in passing over three years. He has 40 career TD passes and a career completion percentage of 66%; one of the most accurate quarterbacks in college football.
[# 45] Harvey Unga RB 6'0" 239 (Junior):
A big bruising RB will try to tire out the Beavers defensive line this evening and has proven he is capable all year long. Unga finished the year with 1016 yards which marks the third year that he's done so. He also had 10 TD's and averaged 5.5 a carry this year. His career stats for BYU are 3384 yards rushing, 35 rushing TD's and a 5.0 yards per attempt. He also will finish with 1070 yards receiving and 9 more TD's so he will be used in the passing game as well.
[# 32] Dennis Pitta TE 6'5" 248 (Senior):
Pitta will be Hall's primary guy tonight and has been all year. Todd McShay has stated that Pitta will most likely be a 2nd or 3rd rounder in the 2010 Draft. Pitta broke the schools record for TE's in receptions. This year he has 57 receptions, 784 yards, and 7 TD's. His career stats are 199 receptions, 2680 yards receiving, and 18 TD's... his average has been 13.5 a reception. Hey will the key player against OSU and will need to have a huge game.
[# 70] Matt Reynolds OT 6'6" 320 (Sophomore):
Reynolds will be a top prospect after next year. He is a big but fast powerful Tackle. If we need some depth next year after hopefully drafting an OT this year, Reynolds could be a nice addition in later rounds for the 2011 draft. I personally will be watching how this young future prospect plays.
[# 22] Andrew Rich DB 6'3" 215 (Junior):
Rich is the best player that the Cougars have on defense. He will have his hands full with the Rodgers brothers this evening and it iwll be a great test. His career stats are 102 Tackles, 2 Fumbles Forced, and 5 Interceptions. Rish also recorded 1 Sack on a safety blitz so they may send him a couple times this game.
[# 84] Jan Jorgensen DL 6'3" 260 (Senior):
Jorgensen will need to get pressure on Canfield tonight and if he can't it's going to be a long day for the Cougars secondary. He has 28 career sacks and has been one of the better defensive linemen for BYU's defense. With 210 career tackles and 1 fumble forced he should have some impact on the game tonight.
Led by Coach Bronco Mendenhall (4th year, 38-13)
Winning five out of their last five bowl games in the last five years, The Beavers enter this matchup with high hopes of maiking it six years in a row with a bowl game victory. This team is just as dynamic on offense as BYU and has been averaging 32.4 points per game. The Beavers when in the redzone have a conversion rate of 96% which is scarey to a team like BYU who is not known for their defense. I look for the Beavers to go blow for blow with BYU this evening.
Key players to watch for the Beavers:
[# 5] Sean Canfield QB 6'4" 220 (Senior):
Very accurate is an understatement to attach to Canfield's name. This quarterback will have a bunch of weapons to go to througout the course of this one. The Senior had 1st team ALL-PAC 10 honors to close out the season and I expect him to play like it tonight. Canfield finishes the year with a 65% completion rate, 5802 yards passing, and 25 TD passes.
[# 1] Jacquizz Rodgers RB 5'7" 193 (Sophomore):
Rodgers, brother to the other Rodgers on the team at WR, rushed for over 1000 yards in each of his first two seasons. This year he finishes 1377 yards with an average of 5.4 a pop and 20 TD's. Since his freshman year, Rodgers has been no stranger to the endzone and currently has 31 career TD's thus far in his collegiate career.
[# 8] James Rodgers WR 5'7" 185 (Junior):
Small, quick, fast, explosive... just a few words to describe this very good WR. Much like his brother, he went over the 1000 yard mark this year as well. He finishes the year with 9 receiving TD's. We will also more than likely see Rodgers returning kicks and punts tonight. He has 1700+ career return yards on kickoffs and 151 yards on 13 punt returns this year which is an average of 11.6 yards an attempt. Should be exciting to see the Rodgers brothers tonight...they should be a handful.
[# 80] Damola Adeniji WR 6'3" 219 (Senior):
On the other side of Rodgers is quite the opposite in style. Decent hands and a tall target for Canfield, Adeniji has been another nice option in this game and will give DB's a nice challenge as he can go above the competition to grab a ball out of the air. This is Adeniji's first year starting as a Senior but has developed as a nice third option and has scored 4 times this year.
[# 10] Lance Mitchell S 6'2" 205 (Sophomore):
Mitchell is by and far probably the best guy the Beavers have in their secondary. Nice size for a college safety and good instinct to get to the ball. Mitchell will need to have the game of his life to give the Beavers their best chance in this matchup. He leads the team in interceptions with 3 this year and 25 return yards to tack on to that.
[# 54] Stephen Paea DT 6'1" 293 (Junior):
Good technique and quick off the snap. Paea was ranked in my top 25 DT's to begin the year. He did not have the greatest year but I believe will be up for this game. He may stay in college one more year to try and work on his stock but should be a notable players to watch.
Led by Coach Mike Riley (6th year, 56-42)
WHEN: 8:00 EST, 5:00 PST
WHERE: SAM BOYD STADIUM, LAS VEGAS, NEVADA
TV: ESPN & ESPN HD
SATELLITE: SIRIUS, XM