Three Takeaways From BYU’s Wagon Wheel Victory Over Utah State
LOGAN, Utah – BYU’s 42-14 victory over Utah State was a statement win by Kalani Sitake and his program.
The Cougars dominated in all phases of the game against their in-state rival. BYU heads back to Provo with budding confidence and a belief that their best football is still in front of them.
Was it the signature win of the Kalani Sitake era? No, not at all. But in terms of execution, it was one of the most impressive in Sitake’s four years as BYU’s head man.
Here are the three takeaways from BYU’s 42-14 victory over Utah State in the Cache Valley.
#1 Aggressive playcalling wins the day again
BYU’s victory over Boise State two weeks ago was highlighted by a new aggressive style of playcalling from both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball.
When BYU dropped to 2-4 after a loss to USF in Tampa, head coach Kalani Sitake vowed that he knew how to fix the Cougars issues. Well, credit to him, BYU has looked like a completely different football team from the one that dropped games to Toledo and USF.
BYU’s offense was looking to stretch the field with a variety of play calls that kept Utah State’s defense guessing all night. The BYU defense had two sacks and three tackles for loss in the win which were above their season averages heading into Saturday night’s contest.
In the fourth quarter, where BYU had some recent struggles – especially on offense – the Cougars didn’t step off the gas pedal. They kept pushing the envelope and playing aggressive. A goal-line stand that featured a great tackle from senior Austin Lee on 4th & 1 and then on offense a 77-yard screen pass to Lopini Katoa saw BYU not willing to give the rival Aggies any momentum in the final quarter.
Sitake noted in his postgame press conference with the assembled media that this win for his team gives them momentum and he is looking to build on it. The aggressive approach will allow BYU to continue building moving forward.
#2 Baylor Romney is a gamer
During the limited media availability portions that we were able to see of this BYU football team during fall camp, the Romney we saw in August is not the same guy that has been lighting it up in wins over Boise State and Utah State.
Jaren Hall played an excellent half of football in the first two quarters, but then when he went down with a concussion, there were questions as to how Romney would perform. Especially now in a game where the opposition had some game film on him going in.
Romney exceeded everyone’s expectations and continues to thrive in this BYU offense that is playing better than ever before in the Kalani Sitake era.
Less than a month ago, it had been five years since Romney played in a live football game and now he’s putting up passer ratings hovering around 200 – 191.5 to be exact -.
If Hall is out for an extended period of time and Wilson isn’t ready to go next week for Liberty, Romney has shown he can lead BYU’s offense and deliver big results that include victories.
#3 Utah State is not passing BYU as a program anytime soon
Last year when BYU was crushed by Utah State in Provo, there were many social media and message board posts from BYU fans and supporters suggesting Utah State was passing up the Cougars to be the second-best program in the state. Those talks can be put to an abrupt halt after what took place on Saturday night at the Mav.
BYU ended the Aggies 10-game home winning streak at Maverik Stadium on Saturday and delivered a product that reminded Cougar fans of games against Utah State from the past.
Utah State has made a lot of strides as a program over the past decade. But BYU still has advantages and deeper rosters than that of the Aggies and that showed itself in the Cougars dominating victory to recapture the Wagon Wheel for the first time since 2016.
Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12-3 pm) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.