Video courtesy BYUTV
Once again it's September, and once again it feels way too early to be gearing up for a BYU-Utah showdown on the gridiron. I miss the days when this game often meant the difference between a conference championship and finishing third, but there's still plenty of emotion and anticipation as far as I'm concerned.
Who'd have thought at this time last year that we'd be going into the 2012 matchup with two different starting quarterbacks? Both Jake Heaps and Utah QB Jordan Wynn are done with football at the schools they started with; Heaps is now at Kansas (sitting out a year, as per NCAA transfer regulations) and Wynn announced his retirement from the sport yesterday.
In Heaps' place is Utah State transfer and pretty boy extraordinaire, Riley Nelson, while Wynn has handed the reins to Jon Hays, a senior who was never good enough to beat Wynn on the depth chart.
Let's just say neither of these guys are world-beaters. After Wynn was injured during the Utah State game last week, Hays came in and completed 12 of his 26 passes for 154 yards and a touchdown in the loss. From the highlights, he has a kinda weird sidearm delivery and doesn't seem terribly accurate. I don't imagine he'll get much done against BYU's improved secondary.
There's a possibility we'll see a lot from Ute freshman quarterback Travis Wilson, who threw a 38-yard touchdown strike against the Aggies and sees to be pretty talented.
Utah's running game struggled against Utah State, mostly due to a poor performance by the offensive line. And word is that the Ute defense, normally very strong, is weak at linebacker and corner. Senior tackle Star Lotulelei is an NFL talent on the defensive line, but there's only so much he can do.
So while there are some concerns about BYU's own offensive line, it seems the flaws for the Cougars are not nearly as glaring as those for Utah. I feel confident about BYU's receiving corp, running backs and the entire defense.
I expect to see several trick plays from Utah (as is the pattern of the last few years), and the score to be a lot closer than my analysis so far would indicate.
BYU has been better than this in the past, and still lost to Utah teams that were pretty bad. Utah always comes out ready to play, amped up, excited, focused, while the Cougars are often timid, rattled and unable to match their opponents' intensity.
From what I've seen, Riley has no fear (for better or for worse) and inspires his teammates. On the defensive end, Kyle Van Noy is always in beast mode, and will keep the defense locked in. I expect this BYU team to show better in the first quarter than they have in the past, and the Cougars will win.
Prediction: 24-13 BYU.
As is tradition, leave your predicted score in the comments below, along with how many receiving yards Cody Hoffman will get, for a chance to win a $10 Amazon.com gift card!
2 years ago