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For the second week in a row, BYU will face a Pac-12 opponent, this time rival Utah, which is the last time the two teams will face each other in this historic series until 2024. Utah is working on a 10-win streak. consecutive, a feat never accomplished in the history of the series.
For Kalani Sitake’s side, there’s a lot of work to be done to prepare for Utah, including tackling and strengthening execution on both sides of the ball. Turnover and depth will be two factors as these two teams go head to head.
Here is a series of reports on how this preparation is going:
- Sitake refuses to use hate as it approaches Utah (Jay Drew)
- Utah’s Whittingham Offers Early BYU Assessment (Jeff Call)
- Cougars Will Have To Get Better This Week (Jay Drew)
Cougar Insiders Predictions
Question of the week: BYU’s penchant for turnovers in the rivalry game with Utah came out on the nine-game losing streak. BYU was clean in the win over Arizona; is this an omen for the Cougars? Plus, predict Utah’s score in the BYU game.
Jay Drew: Aaron Roderick said today BYU was “conservative” in its offensive approach against Arizona because the Wildcats came out in some defenses the Cougars didn’t anticipate and BYU coaches decided to play it safe. I think they’ll have to be a lot more aggressive against Utah, especially if they’re falling behind. And this aggressiveness usually leads to turnovers.
Then again, some of the most memorable turnovers in the rivalry game came early in the game, such as when Sunia Tauteoli intercepted a pass from Taysom Hill in one of the game’s first games in 2016 for a six pick. My take on turnovers is that usually the more athletic, faster team creates the turnovers. And in the past, that team was Utah.
For BYU fans, it was encouraging that new starting QB Jaren Hall took good care of the ball against Arizona. He didn’t make any risky throws and was well protected by the offensive line. Whether they can keep Utah defenders away from him in Provo on Saturday remains to be seen. My prediction: Utah 23, BYU 17.
Dick Harmon: Utah’s success in the nine-game winning streak was built on turnovers. And that’s due to Utah’s ability to lobby with four or five rushers while using tight human cover on BYU receivers. It’s worked.
Utah’s formula will certainly work again as Kyle Whittingham is expected to have the best defense in the Pac-12, but this year it could be a bit more difficult with BYU’s bigger, more physical receivers. BYU can go up to 12 people this year (two tight ends) similar to what the Cougars did in the last win so long ago with Dennis Pitta and Andrew George. This helps with the protections and possible offsets sometimes in terms of size from the covers. It hurts that Gunner Romney isn’t in that group. If Puka and Sampson Nacua are available, the clashes will be fun to watch, especially with 6-foot-4 wide receiver Neil Pau’u.
It all comes down to pressure from QB and Utah and the Cougar’s offensive line. If Utah wins this battle, bypassing the protection of Jaren Hall, it will be difficult to still drive the ball. I don’t know what we learned from Utah’s victory over Weber State and BYU’s victory over Arizona. Both teams will adapt and improve. For the Cougars, they just need to score and not fall behind with turnovers like in the past. Utah 24, BYU 21.
BYU goes 1-0 in the rivalry game with Utah on September 11 after beating Arizona in the opener at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.
Here’s our coverage of that victory:
- Cougars were pragmatic in win over Wildcats (Dick Harmon)
- Gritty Arizona gave BYU a win (Jay Drew)
- Three takeaways from BYU’s win over Arizona (Ryan McDonald)
- Hospitalized BYU Corner Provides Quick Recovery (Jay Drew)
- Bulletin: decent marks at opening (Ryan McDonald)
- What AD Holmoe had to say about Big 12 (Jay Drew)
- Zach Wilson on hand to witness his teammates’ victory (Ryan McDonald)
From the Twitterverse
“I hope that as a result of our efforts to create a community of belonging, we can one day say the BYU campus… the BYU buildings, how beautiful they are in the eyes of those who have known their Redeemer there in as long as their hearts were united in love. #BYUDevo pic.twitter.com/tVxd7YlhmP
– BYU (@BYU) September 7, 2021
Back to 2. In week 5, “Senior recruiting teams would have similar difficulties” is probably a true statement.
But in week 1? Montana defeats UW. Tulane crashes with OU. UNI is very scary in the state of Iowa. Fresno takes Oregon on the wire. UNR defeated Cal. The USU defeated Wazzu.
Week 1 is weird.
– Jeff Hansen (@ rakoto10) September 7, 2021
- Big 12 to develop, do it at chain speed (si.com)
- Big 12 extension ready to roll (CBSsports.com)
- The Big 12 Presidents met on Monday, invitations likely soon (Deseret News)
Deseret News Readers’ Comments
“After the 21-3 lead early in the 3rd, BYU closed the playbook. Preventing him, folding but not breaking the defense, then allowed AZ to come back into the game. I hope this decision pays off next weekend and that Utah doesn’t see what’s coming.
– Perilous times
“A win is a win and we made enough plays to win. The coaches made some great choices and the players performed well enough to get the job done. Every team in a game has questionable game calls. Pick any team in any game and you’ll wonder why this call is. The team will improve and beat the UofUwho next Saturday certainly if the brothers Nacua and Gunner can play. As well as Jake Oldroyd and Smith did a good job. “
– blue White
September 9 | 6 p.m. Football | against Utah | @Salt Lake City
September 10 | 10am | Volleyball | against Bowling Green | @Provo
September 10 | 5 p.m. Volleyball | against Pitt | @Provo
September 11 | To be determined | Cross-country skiing | @Provo
Sep 11 | 8:15 p.m. | Football | against Utah | @Provo
September 11 | 2pm | Volleyball | vs High Point | @Provo
September 11 | 6 p.m. Football | vs Missouri | @Provo