Utah vs. No. 25 BYU: Complete Game Preview
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.
Who: BYU vs. Utah
When: Saturday, 8:15 p.m. (MDT)
Where: Salt Lake City, Utah
Stadium: Rice- Eccles Stadium (46,178)
Radio: KSL Radio 1160 AM, 102.7 FM and ksl.com
Internet Stream: ESPN3 (www.espn.go.com/watchespn)
Depth Chart for BYU
Backup: James Lark
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
Kicker/ Punter: Riley Stephenson
Long Snapper: Reed Hornung
Holder: JD Falslev
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
Punt Returner: JD Falslev
Kick Returners: Cody Hoffman and JD Falslev
Depth Chart for Utah
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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...
...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...
...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.
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