Like last year the score was close. Like last year BYU made a furious comeback. Utah once again nearly snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Defeat doesn’t like the Utes in the Holy War though and it was proven again in a 19-13 victory by Utah.
This was supposed to be the year. On paper BYU had the talent to beat this Ute team. Hail Mary Mangum has the arm, the defense is strong and the game is at home. However, their best running back ever is gone, Tanner didn’t look like Tanner for most of the game, and the Utes don’t care what paper says. They were more aggressive and they got the win by running the ball and making defensive plays.
And now it’s time for… The Good, the Bad and the Ugly:
The Good: BYU put themselves in position to win. It was looking bleak for a bit but their defense was solid all game as BYU had more tackles and solo tackles than the Utes. The Cougars held the Utes to a dismal 21.4% third down conversion rate and completed 40% of their own to move the tape. The bottom line is the Cougars played well enough to consider the rivalry still a close one. It doesn’t look like there will be another 52-10 game anytime soon.
The Bad: The Cougars are left with a lot of what-ifs. That is part of football as even Coach Whittingham on the Utes side mentioned there are things Utah could have done better.
If Tanner hadn’t thrown 3 interceptions in the game then maybe the offense would have got going in the first half and not looked like the LSU game for a good chunk of the time.
The bottom line is the defense needs to wrap up on tackles, Squally Canada isn’t the answer at running back and Tanner Mangum doesn’t deserve all the blame. His receivers dropped a lot of critical passes and they are paid scholarships to catch the ball.
BYU – “only took risks when they were unwise ones.”
The Ugly: The Cougars never really got any momentum going unless the Utes were shooting themselves in the foot. That failed fourth down attempt near the end of the fourth quarter went from trying to Ice the game to giving the Cougars a shot to win the game. Whether it was Rhett Almond missing the only field goal attempt of the night to keep the zero on the scoreboard for the Cougars in the first half, or running their predictable Detmer’s pro style offense that the Utes read like a children’s book, BYU only took risks when they were unwise ones.
The Utes – “Were more aggressive and they got the win by running the ball and making defensive plays.”
The Good: The Utes made plays and plays win games no matter how simple they are. Tyler Huntley is a more athletic running back and his rushes got the job done against this BYU team. The defense really went after the ball and easily won the turnover battle that Kyle Whittingham stresses so much in practice. They kept their defense off the field and rested for a slightly longer majority of the game than BYU as their time of possession was 32:27. Their passing game wasn’t bad either. Basically they looked like the better, more athletic team and more often than not that team gets the win.
The Bad: The Utes do not look like a team that can win the South Division of the PAC-12 if things don’t improve. Kyle did point out that the offense needs to be smarter in the future as “Tyler Huntley won’t last all season if we rely on him to run the ball this much.” It’s great to have a good running quarterback but the position was meant to be a throwing one. Huntley rushed for 89 yards. Actual Ute running backs combined for 27 rushing yards. That has to change by the time the Utes face the likes of USC and Stanford.
The Ugly: The Utes once again gave their rivals something to still chirping about. They needed a 52-10 game to take away the ammo but the fact is that BYU really does want to win the rivalry and at times seemed more motivated in the game than the Utes. The Utes can have that swagger all they want to against BYU since they know that the power 5 conference has recently given them a superior recruiting edge over the Cougars. However, the Utes haven’t yet won the recruiting battle over many elite programs in their conference since they don’t have the recruiting luxury of the warm California beach weather. Utah will have to out work the other teams if the conference if they want to make the same national noise they once did when they went undefeated and won BCS bowl games.
Holy War Fact of the Night: Since BYU’s last rivalry win, the president has changed, the Olympics at London and Brazil have taken place and Justin Bieber has been deported to Canada and returned back again with a voice that would almost be low enough to be a tenor in a men’s choir. Hey, Utah State would love a Mountain West rivalry if BYU is interested.