BYU COUGARS

Recipe For BYU Football To Take Down Utah

Sep 11, 2021, 8:31 AM | Updated: 8:31 am
BYU Football - Utah Utes...
BYU wide receiver Gunner Romney (18) hauls in a pass from quarterback Zach Wilson (1), not pictured, while defended by Utah defensive back Jaylon Johnson (1) during the first half of an NCAA football game at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019. (Colter Peterson, Deseret News)
(Colter Peterson, Deseret News)

PROVO, Utah – Is today the day that BYU football knocks off Utah (Tonight, 8:15 p.m.; ESPN & KSL NewsRadio)? If BYU can’t pull it off today, the nine-game losing streak could grow to ten and span more than 15 years.

But what will it take for BYU to take down the Utes? Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham has been elite against BYU. Whitt’s attention to detail has been a big reason the Utes are knocking on the door of the longest winning streak in this storied rivalry that heads into its 95th meeting.

Here’s the recipe for BYU to win today against the Utes.

Manage the emotions

Since the last time BYU and Utah met, so much has changed for the Cougars. From conference expansion to the Big 12, new locker rooms, new uniforms, an 11-win season, they produced a generational talent at QB, so many good things have happened for BYU. But the one piece they are missing is a win over the Utes.

BYU players have to ignore the losing streak because these current players don’t account for the entire nine-game skid. But they’ll have to manage their emotions and not let themselves get too hyped.

It’s a tricky balance because you know it’s a bigger game than the rest, but those first two drives when emotions are high, BYU will need to avoid emotions getting the best of them.

BYU Football: Play to Kick

For BYU football to win this game, every drive will need to end in a kick. So, whether it be a field goal, extra point, or a punt, play to kick.

If every drive ends in a kick, that means BYU won’t have any turnovers. When going into a game where they are an underdog and Utah is a nationally-ranked team, you’ve gotta play a clean game to pull off the upset.

BYU has some of the best specialists in the country, utilize them. Last week, Jake Oldroyd was a late scratch from the Arizona game. He’s on the depth chart this week for the rivalry. Oldroyd and punter Ryan Rehkow are valuable assets in a game that could come down to one possession.

Jaren Hall has to be elite

Max Hall, John Beck, and Brandon Doman are the three QBs to lead BYU football over Utah in the 21st century. All were winners and NFL QBs.

Can Jaren Hall be the next? He’s got all the potential in the world to make that happen.

Hall’s first season-opening start was a solid performance against Arizona with 198 passing yards and 36 yards on the ground.

BYU took a conservative approach against the Wildcats due to the uncertainty of what the Wildcats would run. There’s no uncertainty as to what Utah will run; it’s just a matter of BYU can score on it.

Hall has to put together an efficient game that has Utah’s defense guessing. If BYU’s offense becomes one-dimensional, it will be hard for BYU to pull the upset.

Defense needs to set up BYU’s offense with a short field

Talking with Chaz Ah You this week on Cougar Tracks, Ah You noted the importance of turnovers in the BYU-Utah game.

Setting up BYU’s offense with a short field would likely be music to the ears of Jaren Hall and Aaron Roderick. The BYU defense had one takeaway a week against Arizona. They’ll need at least three takeaways against the Utes.

Late in the game, have the mindset to win

Since Kalani Sitake took as head coach at BYU, the Cougars have had three previous meetings where the game was on the line in the fourth quarter, and BYU couldn’t get over the hump and come away with the victory.

There will need to be a mindset from the likes of Max Hall that exudes, “We’re gonna win this game!” In the past, BYU has looked like a team that is surprised to be in a situation to win the rivalry. If it’s a close game, and more times than not, you can bet it will; BYU will need to stay aggressive in the play calling and have the attitude and mindset that they will win no matter what challenges come their way.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12-3 pm) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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