Utah vs. No. 25 BYU: Complete Game Preview

Samuel BensonContributor IIISeptember 12, 2012

Utah vs. No. 25 BYU: Complete Game Preview

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    Yes, it's that time again. The "Holy War," is it has been called, between BYU and Utah is right around the corner.

    But no, it isn't November. In fact, this could be the last time that the two teams meet on an annual basis. And for the first time in the history of the program, the Cougars' first road game of the season will be a 44-mile trip up to Salt Lake.

    Just because this is a first and a last in several different aspects doesn't mean that it won't be a great game. Sure, it will have a new feel to it, but the Cougs will want revenge for their embarrassing loss last year and the Utes won't want to lose back-to-back games.

    So, here is a complete preview for a game that will be one definitely worth watching.

Game-Day Information

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    Who: BYU vs. Utah

    When: Saturday, 8:15 p.m. (MDT)

    Where: Salt Lake City, Utah

    Stadium: Rice- Eccles Stadium (46,178)

    TV: ESPN2

    Radio: KSL Radio 1160 AM, 102.7 FM and ksl.com

    Internet Stream: ESPN3 (www.espn.go.com/watchespn)

Depth Chart for BYU

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    Offense

    QB—Riley Nelson

    Backup: James Lark

    RB—Michael Alisa

    Backup: David Foote

    Third-string: Iona Pritchard

    Slot Receiver: JD Falsev

    Backup: David Foote

    Wide Receiver: Cody Hoffman

    Backup: Skyler Ridley

    Wide Receiver: Ross Apo

    Backup WR: Dallin Cutler

    TE: Kaneakua Friel

    Backup tight end: Austin Holt

    Left Tackle: Ryker Mathews

    Backup: Michael Yeck

    Left Guard: Houston Reynolds

    Backup: Famika Anae

    Center: Blair Tushaus

    Backup: Houston Reynolds

    Right Guard: Braden Hansen

    Backup: Brock Stringham

    Right Tackle: Braden Brown, Sr.

    Backup: Manaaki Vaitai

    Special Teams

    Kicker/ Punter: Riley Stephenson

    Long Snapper: Reed Hornung

    Holder: JD Falslev

    Defense

    Left End: Eathyn Manumaleuna

    Backup: Mike Muehlmann

    Nose Tackle: Romney Fuga

    Backup: Simote Vea

    Right End: Russell Tialavea

    Backup: Ezekiel Ansah

    Strong-Side LB: Spencer Hadley

    Backup: Alani Fua

    Mike Linebacker: Uona Kaveinga

    Backup:  Zac Stout

    Buck Linebacker: Brandon Ogletree

    Backup: Manoa Pikula

    Weak-Side Linebacker: Kyle Van Noy

    Backup: Jherremya Leuta-Douyere

    Field Corner: Jordan Johnson,

    Backups: Micah Hannemann and Robbie Buckner

    Boundary Corner: Preston Hadley

    Backup: Skye PoVey

    KAT Safety: Daniel Sorensen

    Backup: Craig Bills

    Free Safety: Joe Sampson

    Backup: Mike Hague

    Special Teams

    Punt Returner: JD Falslev

    Kick Returners: Cody Hoffman and JD Falslev

Depth Chart for Utah

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    Offense

    Quarterback: Jon Hays

    Backup: Travis Wilson

    RB: John White

    Backups: Jarrell Oliver, Kelvin York

    HB: Dallin Rodgers

    Backup: Max Moala

    WR: D. Christopher

    Backup:  Kenneth Scott

    WR:  Dres Anderson

    Backups: Geoff Norwood, Luke Matthews

    TE: David Rolf

    Backups:  Jake Murphy, Westlee Tonga

    OT: Miles Mason

    Backup: Jeremiah Poutasi

    OT: Percy Taumoelau

    Backup: Kala Friel

    OG: Jeremiah Tofaeono

    Backup:  Latu Heimuli

    OG: Sam Brenner  

    Backup: Siaosi Aiono

    C:  Tevita Stevens

    Backup: Vyncent Jones

    Defense

    DE: Nate Fakahafua

    Backups:  Trevor Reilly, Thretton Palamo

    DE: Joe Kruger

    Backup: Trevor Reilly

    DT: Dave Kruger

    Backup: Tenny Palepoi

    DT: Star Lotulelei

    Backup: Viliseni Fauonuku

    LB: Trevor Reilly

    Backup:  Jason Whittingham

    LB: V.J. Fehoko

    Backup: Dave Fagergren

    LB: Jared Norris

    Backup: LT Filiaga

    CB: Moe Lee

    Backup:  Wykie Freeman

    CB: Ryan Lacy

    Backup: Tyler White

    S: Quade Chappuis  

    Backups: Terrell Reese, Michael Walker

    S: Eric Rowe ,T. Morris-Edwards

    Special Teams

    K: Coleman Petersen    

    P: Sean Sellwood

    LS: Patrick Greene                         

    H: Sean Sellwood | 6-3, 203, SR

    KR: D. Christopher | 6-1, 200, SR

    PR: Charles Henderson | 5-9, 182, RS FR

What Happened to the Cougs Last Week

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    Last Saturday, BYU easily handled FCS foe Weber State in Provo, with the final score being 45-13. Senior quarterback Riley Nelson threw for 244 yards and a touchdowns in the first half, while backups Taysom Hill and James Lark added one passing and two rushing touchdowns in the second.

    Wide receiver Cody Hoffman was also a big key in the win, with 115 yards and a touchdown. The defense continued to impress, limiting the Wildcats to 254 total yards. The Cougar D is second in the nation in sacks thus far in the season with nine, six of which came in that last week's game.

What Happened to the Utes Last Week

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    Utah had a much more exciting and thrilling game than the Cougars' last week, but the outcome wasn't nearly as grand. Despite a 96-yard rushing performance by senior running back John White, the Utes fell short to Utah State 27-20 in overtime on Friday.

    The game was terrifyingly familiar to some Ute fans; similar to last season, starting quarterback Jordan Wynn left the game with a shoulder injury early on, leaving the reins to backup John Hays. Unfortunately, Wynn announced his retirement from football yesterday, which means that Hays will start the rest of the season.

    John Hays didn't play terribly; he finished with 154 yards and a touchdown in just over a half of play. Defensive tackle Star Lotulelei had a good, but quiet, game, finishing with four tackles.

    "It's devastating, because we lost to a team that's not even in the Pac-12," said White via ESPN.com. "To lose to Utah State is horrible."

What This Game Means to Both Teams

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    Utah

    Winning this game means keeping a spot in the running for the Pac-12 South. Sure, you could make the argument that last week's loss to Utah State completely diminished any hopes, but quality wins later in the season could rekindle that possibility. A loss on Saturday leaves the Utes with practically no shot of appearing in the Pac-12 championship, and as much as they may deny it, until the game is over they are still BYU's rival.

    BYU

    The Cougars really need to get rid of the sour taste in their mouth after last year's bitter loss. If they can come up with a big win, BYU fans, players and coaches alike may be able to forget about that bitter loss. Also, a loss here could jeopardize their season (the Cougs travel to Boise next week). If they lose to Utah, that could mean going 2-2 and falling out of national polls.

Key Player for BYU

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    Riley Nelson is the center of BYU's offense. If he has a bad game, then so do the receivers and tight ends, and all of the offensive pressure falls on the rushing game.

    And the Cougars simply don't have running backs strong enough to carry the offense.

    Sure, you could make the case that Taysom Hill and James Lark are perfectly capable of stepping in, but neither of them have enough experience to lead the offense to a win. Both of them can handle cleanup duty and 4th-and-short plays, but I can't see either of them being the longtime solution.

    In last year's matchup against Utah, the offense struggled early on, which led to 3rd-and-outs. Since the offense was barely on the field, the defense had to stay on for forever and soon gets tired, which led to easy points for the opponent. So, if BYU wants to win, they need Riley Nelson to play well.

Key Player for Utah

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    John White already has 215 rushing yards in only two games, and has been called repeatedly been called the most consistent aspect of Utah's offense.

    But if he gets limited playing time or doesn't play at all (because of an injured ankle from Friday's game), the Utes will be in trouble. He is the offense. Without Jordan Wynn, the rushing game will be turned towards to get the offense going.

    Until the passing game picks up in Saturday's contest, John White will need to step up. If he can't do that, the Utes will not be in good shape.

The Cougs Will Win If...

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    ...they get off to a good start. The first two games, BYU's offense didn't score until its second and fifth possessions.

    If the Cougs don't strike quickly against the Utes, it may be tough to get back on top.

    Utah has won the past two games that it scored first during, and lost the past two games that it fell behind early during.

    So, to say the least, BYU needs to strike first in order to win.

The Utes Will Win If...

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    ...they score first and John White has a 100-plus yard performance.

    Like I said in the previous slide, Utah has won the past two games they have scored first in. Like the Cougars, if they want to win, they had better score first.

    Secondly, John White needs to run for 100 or more yards. In the nine games that White has rushed for that many, the Utes have won. When he hasn't, they lost.

Final Prediction

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    BYU has one of the superior defenses in the country, and it should be able to control John White's and the Ute offense's productivity. If the Cougar offense can also produce, I could see BYU slipping away with this one.

    My prediction: BYU wins, 24-17