Instant Takeaways From BYU’s Win Over Utah State

Sep 29, 2022, 9:51 PM | Updated: 10:05 pm
BYU linebacker Max Tooley (Courtesy of Jeffrey D. Allred / Deseret News)
(Courtesy of Jeffrey D. Allred / Deseret News)

PROVO, Utah – No. 19 BYU football takes down in-state rival Utah State 38 to 26.

The win improves BYU’s record to 4-1 overall on the season, and Utah State drops in the other direction at 1-4.

Here are some instant takeaways from BYU’s third consecutive victory in the Old Wagon Wheel rivalry.

Utah State is a completely different team with Cooper Legas

USU QB Logan Bonner was sidelined tonight with an injury. But even if Bonner wasn’t dealing with an injury, Legas is the better QB. He proved that on Thursday night. The Aggies looked like the more disciplined and prepared team on a short week, despite being a three-plus touchdown underdog.

With Legas at quarterback, and with how much the Mountain West is struggling, it’s not unreasonable to think the Aggies couldn’t make a run at a bowl bid. A former Orem High standout, who didn’t get an offer from BYU, is talented. He’s etched himself as QB1 for USU.

Max Tooley is the best player on BYU’s defense

BYU linebacker Max Tooley has been a star for the Cougars on defense. Tooley is establishing himself as the best player on the defense this year. BYU’s defense has lacked explosive plays this season in takeaways. But Tooley is the exception. The former Bountiful High standout had his second pick-six this season.

Slow starts are going to cost BYU’s defense against P5 teams

Tonight’s game and last week’s win over Wyoming played out in similar fashions. Two Mountain West opponents that had a lot of success controlling the clock, running the football, and keeping BYU’s potent offense off the field.

It’s one thing to have these starts against teams like Wyoming and Utah State. It will cost BYU dearly against Notre Dame, Arkansas, Stanford, or even a cross country road trip to Liberty.

The BYU defense has tightened up in both second halves, but the rhythm that BYU coach Kalani Sitake was looking for in last week’s win, wasn’t on display tonight against the Aggies.

Stop sleeping on Chris Brooks

The Chris Brooks that the media saw in fall camp was on display during BYU’s win against Utah State. When Miles Davis left the game in the fourth quarter due to an injury, Brooks made the most of his opportunity and ran with a violence and aggression that was a common trait in the off-season. It was the type of running that made him BYU’s starting running back after transferring from Cal.

After a pair of tough performances against talented defensive fronts in Baylor and Oregon, Brooks, who was dealing with some hamstring tightness last week, barely played. He showed well on Thursday and at a minimum, should be a co-starter with a healthy Miles Davis. If Davis isn’t healthy, Brooks is BYU’s best ball carrier.

BYU needs to change it up at kicker

BYU kicker Jake Oldroyd made a long 45-yard field goal in the second quarter, which based on his reaction, seemed like a breakthrough for the Cougar specialist. But the struggles returned in the fourth quarter as he missed a 33-yard field goal attempt. BYU coaches brought him in again with 3:20 left in the game to attempt a 35-yard field goal, and that too was missed.

Oldroyd’s misses are not long attempts and they’ve nearly been at every hash possible. BYU turned to Justen Smith last week for an attempt and he made it. If he can’t beat Oldroyd, BYU might have to look at Cash Peterman or Ryan Rehkow to handle kicks.

The issues at kicker were evident late in the fourth quarter when BYU’s offense went for it on 4th & 3 from the Utah State 25-yard line.

BYU/Utah State QB curse had a moment

When Utah State DL Byron Vaughns laid a late hit on BYU QB Jaren Hall many around LaVell Edwards Stadium were probably holding their collective breath. My thought? Is this another injured QB situation in a BYU/Utah State game?

The history since Taysom Hill’s injury in 2012 is well documented in this game. After that hit by Vaughns, Hall landed awkwardly. He came up and started a rotating motion with his right shoulder. The starting QB played the remainder of the game and didn’t appear fazed afterwards as he put together another efficient night leading BYU’s offense.

BYU is elite in securing the football

Another game goes by where BYU doesn’t give up a turnover. That’s four consecutive games where BYU hasn’t had a turnover. A truly remarkable accomplishment.

BYU did have a close call deep in their own end of the field when Lopini Katoa fumbled the rock, but BYU was able to recover. Outside of that, BYU played clean football.

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

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