by Rick Istvan | The playoffs are underway and there is a lot of interest. Without these former Utah collegiate athletes representing the Beehive state in the playoffs, there wouldn’t be nearly as much buzz.
Browns @ Chiefs
Utah puts the D in the Dawg Pound
Sione Takitaki has added tenacity to the Browns defense. The former BYU Cougar linebacker plays downhill football. Takitaki doesn’t have glaring numbers but he is solid and dependable. He makes plays when they need to be made and he plays to the whistle. Last week against the Steelers, Takitaki had 3 total tackles and an interception which he returned for 23 yards. He finished the regular season with 67 total tackles, one interception which he returned 50 yards for a touchdown, one pass deflection and two tackles for loss. In only his second year in the NFL, Takitaki has become a leader for the Browns’ defense. The Browns face a potent Chiefs offense today and they will be tested. Takitaki needs to contain Mahomes and attack with ferocity. Takitaki would love to not only been part of a Cleveland team to make the playoffs, but to also make the Super Bowl.
Brian Allen is a new addition to Cleveland. Allen was acquired by the Browns on January 5th 2021. He had spent most of the 2020 season on the Bengals’ practice squad. Prior to the Bengals, Allen played in one game with the 49er’s in which he had three tackles. Allen played cornerback at the University of Utah. In 2016, his senior year, Allen played in all 13 games 9 of which he started. That year Allen had 35 total tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, one sack, four interceptions and six passes broken up. Hopefully Allen can add depth to the Browns secondary and represent the Utes proudly.
Hail to the Chiefs! Utah is bee-hind you.
Daniel Sorensen, the former BYU Cougar, has had his best season this year with the Chiefs. Sorensen played in 15 games this season for Kansas City. In 15 games Sorensen had 91 total tackles, two forced fumbles, three interceptions, one returned for a touchdown, five pass deflections and two tackles for a loss. Sorensen plays a integral role in the Chiefs secondary. He is a hard hitter and plays tough football. Sorensen has a Super Bowl win under his belt already. Once you know how that feels, you want to feel it again. Sorensen will do everything he can to help the Chiefs get another Lombardi Trophy and he has the ability. The former Cougar is definitely going to be prowling the field today looking for a win against the Browns.
Darwin Thompson was a sixth round pick by Kansas City out of Utah State in 2019. This season, Thompson has played in 14 games for the Chiefs. He has 27 carries for 97 yards and a touchdown. Thompson does have a fumble, but he has also gotten the Chiefs seven first downs as well. Kansas City has a stocked backfield. With Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Le’Veon Bell and Darrel Williams getting most of the carries, Thompson has to make the most of the carries he gets. His chance could come at any minute. Bell hasn’t really been that impressive, and Edwards-Helaire is out with a hip/ankle injury. Thompson needs his own Darwinism theory and evolve into the running back the Chiefs need him to be. It is survival of the fittest in the National Football League.
Buccaneers @ Saints
The New Orleans Saints are used to being the unknown. Until recently the Saints were always a team that people overlooked. Taysom Hill and Marcus Williams can relate to that feeling. Hill the former BYU Cougar and Williams the former Utah Ute are also used to not getting the credit they deserved. That is, until now.
Is this downhill for the Saints?
Taysom Hill has been the duct tape for the Saints. Wherever there is a place that needs to be fixed, just put in Taysom. When Brees was out with his finger injury, Hill stepped up. Anytime Taysoms number has been called, he has answered. Unfortunately for the Saints, Hill won’t be available for today’s game against the Buccaneers. Hill has a knee injury that he just can’t seem to recover from. The Saints believe that they are going to beat Tampa Bay today so they would like to give Hill time to recover. Whether the Saints win or lose today one thing is for certain, New Orleans hasn’t seen the last of Taysom Hill. With an aging Drew Brees and the Saints getting so close to the Super Bowl the last few years, Payton has plans for Hill. Even though he might be out today, and this may or may not be the last game of the season, things are definitely all uphill from here for Taysom.
Does Marcus have the Will to win?
Williams is a former Utah Ute. He is now the starting safety for the New Orleans Saints. Williams has had a solid season. In his fourth year, Williams has played in 14 games for the Saints. During those games, Williams had 59 total tackles, three interceptions, seven pass deflections and four tackles for loss. The Saints have played Tampa twice this year, winning both games. Williams only has one tackle in each of those games but also has an interception the last time they played. There is a lot more at stake today. Williams is going to have to play excellent coverage, make sure tackles and not get beat deep. If this former Ute wants a shot at the Lombardi Trophy, he’s going to have to have the will to win.
The Buccaneers’ ship has sailed on the Utahns
The Buccaneers don’t have any former Utah college athletes on their roster. Maybe you’re a Brady fan, or maybe there’s a player on the Bucs you like. Either way, hopefully this will be a better game than the last two. For Brady and Brees the clock is ticking. This could be the last game for Brees in the NFL. Brady might be back for another season, but who knows. All I can say is as a football fan we are watching history unfold. Whether you love or hate them, we are watching two of the best to ever do it. To all of the teams and players in today’s games, best of luck and we’ll see some of you next week.
Featured image courtesy cleveland.com