Las Vegas Bowl quarterbacks on top of their game

2009-12-17T01:00:00Z Las Vegas Bowl quarterbacks on top of their gameBy Cliff Kirkpatrick, Gazette-Times Reporter Corvallis Gazette Times

Two of the better quarterbacks in the nation will be on display in the Las Vegas Bowl.

And that's not just when looking at the stats.

The Oregon State football team features Sean Canfield and Brigham Young centers its offense on Max Hall.

Both seniors are high on the NFL draft boards. NFL Draft Countdown ranks Canfield the 10th-best quarterback available in April's draft and Hall the 14th-best.

"They are both really good quarterbacks," OSU coach Mike Riley said. "They both know what they are doing and have been successful. The matchup is awesome for the bowl game, and in general."

Hall, 25, is a mature player. The 6-foot-1, 201-pounder redshirted in 2004 at Arizona State before going on a two-year Mormon mission.

He transferred to BYU in 2006 and sat out a year, due to NCAA transfer rules. Then he took over and became the leader of a potent offense.

"Max is such a fierce competitor," BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said. "His sheer will leads the team. He's so competitive. Over the years he added more poise with the competitive spirit."

Canfield has been around OSU since the spring of 2004, but only blossomed this year. The 6-4, 214-pounder started out slow as a starter his sophomore season, improved and then injured his throwing shoulder.

His rehab took a full year, and it wasn't until Lyle Moevao injured his throwing shoulder that Canfield establish himself.

"They have a very good quarterback," Hall said. "I've watched him on TV, and he does things well and throws the ball everywhere. Our defense has their hands full."

Canfield competed 70 percent of his passes for 3,103 yards and 21 touchdowns. There have been only six interceptions, which is drastically down from 15 his sophomore year when he started nine games.

Hall, however, has been steady from the beginning. He competed 68 percent of his passes this season and threw 30 touchdowns.

"Max is just a great leader," BYU running back Harvey Unga said. "He's willing to get out there and take a risk. And with that comes great rewards. But there's some downfall with that, too. But he leads the team. He gets guys fired up with his love for the game."

Hall's completion percentage was 60 percent his sophomore season and 69 percent as a junior season. He threw 61 touchdowns those two years.

His 31-7 record as a starter gives him the most wins of any quarterback in BYU history.

"And that says a lot with the quarterbacks who were in this program," said Mendenhall, referring to the likes of Ty Detmer, Jim McMahon and Steve Young.

BYU and OSU have similar offenses for the quarterback in that he's asked to read the defense and determine what to do on each play at the line of scrimmage.

Quarterbacks for the Beavers take more than a year in the system to figure out what to do at a fast pace. Hall adapted quickly.

"I like to control things," Hall said. "They give the quarterback a lot of responsibility here. We have to understand defenses and check out of things if we need. They have a lot of trust in the quarterback, and they let me have input into the schemes."

Hall's confidence combined with production is what makes him a leader. Teammates see that and trust him.

Leadership is what helped Canfield. He knew the team needed him this year, so he prepared mentally and physically for a big season.

"They need to know you are going to make the right call," Hall said. "You want to lift them up. And make them better. I try to do that."

Canfield's never-quit attitude and improvement made teammates want to follow him. Now his confidence matches his big arm.

Riley, a former NFL head coach, considers Canfield and Hall NFL prospects because they've learned how to run pro-style offenses and have the physical attributes.

When it comes to the Las Vegas Bowl, it should be an aerial display. Passing is what both teams do well, and they plan to go with what brought them to the game.

Just as long as the defenses let them.

"That's how people will perceive this game, but a lot of times those games turn around and go the other way," Riley said. "So I'm not assuming anything. We'll have to play great defense, move the ball and score."

However, for the quarterbacks this is an important stage to put on a good show for NFL scouts.

"It will be important to put points on the board because they will be, too," Canfield said. "The main thing for me is winning the game, but another important thing for me come game day is I want to be the best quarterback out there."

Copyright 2015 Corvallis Gazette Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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