When in doubt it seems BYU fans will always return to blaming the quarterback.
It has long been believed the most popular player on the BYU football team is the backup quarterback. This love of the backup comes from the high expectations fans put on any quarterback at BYU. The Cougars have a strong tradition of excellent field generals.
Young, McMahon, Bosco, Wilson, and Detmer are the gold standard of college quarterbacking. Even the second tier BYU quarterbacks like Beck, Doman, Sarkisian and Walsh all put up excellent numbers for college quarterbacks.
If a BYU quarterback isn't getting the job done on the field, the fan base will look to the backup to come in and continue the tradition of quarterback U.
So what is expected of Max Hall in his senior season? Perfection. Since the LaVell Edwards era, BYU has never had a senior quarterback who hasn't led the team to a conference title. When BYU has a senior quarterback the fans expect a special season.
Max Hall has been great ever since he started games for BYU. He won a conference title in his first season. He only has six losses in three years as the starting quarterback of BYU. He also beat Utah in his first season as a starter.
Yet, Max Hall seems to be the ire of many BYU fans. Hall definitely has some holes in his game. These holes were very apparent last season when BYU struggled on the road against TCU, and then Hall self-destructed against Utah by throwing five interceptions.
Even after Max Hall led BYU to a monumental victory over Oklahoma in Dallas, converting a late drive in the fourth quarter to take the lead, after the game fans were criticizing Hall for the two interceptions he threw in the game. Now after the embarrassing home loss to Florida State fans seem ready to throw Hall under the bus for the loss.
It is obvious that Max Hall has problems, and I am not a Max Hall apologist; however, blaming Hall for the Florida State loss makes no sense.
Critics of Hall will point to the fact that Hall threw a pick-six early in the second half, and another interception which should have been a pick-six if Florida State players didn't end up tackling themselves. Surely Hall made a mistake and would like to have a chance not to throw the balls which were intercepted, but when those interceptions happened Hall was trying to make something happen.
The BYU defense proved in the first half that they could not stop Florida State. Florida State was perfect on third downs, and their offensive line were having their way with BYU's front seven. What BYU fans seem to overlook is the fact that Hall was also perfect in the first half. BYU also never failed to convert on a third down in the first half. BYU's offense was also moving the ball virtually at will against Florida State.
Hall just wasn't getting the support he needed from his supporting cast. The two fumbles in the first half were just foreshadowing the embarrassing end to the game. Hall was coming out for the second half knowing he had played great football, yet BYU was still down by sixteen points. Hall also knew that BYU was going to have to outscore Florida State in a shootout if they were to claim victory.
What makes Max Hall great is also what people hate about Max Hall. He is a gambler. He will try to make a big play to get his team a victory. It is obvious from the three years he has been starting for BYU, he does not believe in playing conservative to make a loss look good. If he is going to lose, he is going to lose swinging for the fences.
That is how Max Hall played in the second half of the game. He got burned by Florida State's defense which was able to sit back and expect the pass, but he was still trying to lead his team to victory. Evidence of this point comes from a mostly glossed over stat from BYU's defeat. BYU only punted the ball one time the entire game. Hall was going to let the ball fly. He did end up with a 64% completion percentage, and 306 passing yards in the game.
It was obvious some of BYU's players weren't ready to play against Florida State, with the majority of those players being on BYU's defense. Max Hall seemed to be the exception. He was ready to play against Florida State, and he proved that in the first half.
There are many things which went wrong for BYU against Florida State, but fans who blame Max Hall for the loss simply do not understand college football.
His critics will now question if Max Hall is able to rebound from poor performances. It seems as if once Hall faces adversity he will slowly snowball into self-destruct mode. Minus the Utah game last season, Hall was able to recover and lead the Cougars back in many games. Fans seem to forget Hall leading BYU past UNLV at home when the defense disappeared. Also, Hall needing to score a touchdown with twenty-two seconds left against Colorado State last season to beat the Rams on the road.
Simply put Max Hall has a lot left to prove this season, and he still has a great chance to etch his name into BYU lore. An 11-1 record this season would still be quite a feat for BYU.
By beating Oklahoma, Hall put himself in the same sentence as Ty Detmer for greatest victory in school history. He also still has a chance this season to lead BYU to another conference title. He will also have a chance to prove all of his critics wrong if he can rebound and help his team recover from an embarrassing loss this Saturday.
Yet, Max Hall has often said he understands the pressures of being quarterback at BYU. Love him or hate him, he doesn't mind if the buck stops with Max Hall, starting quarterback.
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