Utah football report card: Utes fail rivalry test in loss to BYU

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Deseret News 12 September, 2021 - 02:45pm 6 views

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This game kicks off on Saturday, September 11 at 7:15 p.m. PT/10:15 p.m. ET from LaVell Edwards Stadium with a live TV broadcast on ESPN. You can watch the BYU vs. Utah football game live for FREE with fuboTV (free trial), or see our other live streaming and TV options for this game provided below. oregonlive.comBYU snaps losing streak to rival Utah with 26-17 victory

Is BYU in the Pac 12?

Essentially, the Pac-12 has reaped the benefits of having BYU in the conference without having BYU in the conference. The relationship is now in jeopardy. As a member of the Big 12, the Cougars will have fewer openings and less need to stock their schedule with Pac-12 opponents. The Mercury NewsThe Big 12 adds four schools, including Brigham Young: What it means for the Pac-12

The Utes were outplayed by the Cougars on both sides of the ball and never led as BYU claimed its first win in the rivalry game since 2009.

Here are the grades from Utah’s 26-17 loss to BYU.

Utah turned the ball over twice on its first two offensive possessions.

Things didn’t get much better from there.

Utah’s offense was simply not good enough, especially in the first half.

First possession: Interception thrown by Charlie Brewer, facing pressure from a BYU blitz. That ball should have just been thrown away. But instead, he made an ill-advised throw off of his back foot for an interception.

Second possession: Fumble by Tavion Thomas, his second of the year after turning the ball over against Weber State. Thomas, who came into the game as Utah’s No. 1 running back, saw just four more touches after the mistake.

Utah’s offense was lucky those two turnovers only resulted in three total points from BYU, but it was a sign that the offense just didn’t have enough to win the game on Saturday night in Provo.

The Utes were able to score a touchdown in the first half, but of Utah’s three drives following the two turnovers, two resulted in zero points. The most consequential, and the drive that really swung the game, came with just under five minutes left in the first half.

A holding penalty negated what would have been an 8-yard gain by Thomas to the BYU 3-yard line. The Utes would have had first and goal from the 3-yard line. Instead, that holding penalty backed up Utah to second-and-15 from the 21-yard line. An incomplete pass turned that into third-and-15, and Utah set up a fourth-and-2 with a Brewer pass to Theo Howard, who made an excellent diving grab.

BYU had a 10-7 lead, and Utah could have had a chip-shot field goal to tie the game. The Utes gambled, though, and ran an uninspiring handoff in shotgun formation, which was stuffed by the Cougars — three blue shirts ran untouched into the backfield — and Utah turned the ball over on downs. BYU scored a touchdown on the ensuing drive to take a 16-7 lead into halftime. Game-changer.

The only bright spot for Utah was Micah Bernard, who rushed for 146 yards on 12 carries and scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter to cut the Cougar lead to six. He had Utah’s only big play, a 50-yard run. The Utes will most likely go with Bernard as the featured running back going forward.

“He played very well tonight, ran hard, ripped off some big runs. He’s also a great receiver out of the backfield, so he’s a weapon for us,” Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham said. “Micah certainly seemed to get some separation between him and the other backs tonight.”

Brewer was 15-for-26 for 147 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He certainly did not rally a Utah comeback. Utah’s offensive line did poorly in pass protection. Brewer was sacked twice and was pressured plenty of times.

BYU’s defensive line did a good job of getting in the backfield and generally just outplayed Utah’s offensive line, which was at full strength on Saturday after missing two starters against Weber State, throwing different looks at the Utes and surprising them with pressure.

Perhaps the worst stat of the night for the Utes was that Utah went 2-for-9 on third down and 0-for-2 on fourth down, killing drives. They did not convert a third down in the first half.

Utah’s offense was never able to get into a consistent rhythm for much of the game.

When was the last time that BYU’s offensive line was able to outclass Utah’s defensive line?

On Saturday, BYU did what Utah did to the Cougars plenty of times during the streak — bully the defensive line, both in pass protection and in the run game.

There’s no other way to put it, BYU’s offensive line just dominated Utah’s defensive line.

“They beat us at the line of scrimmage, which I would have bet my house going in that we would not lose the line of scrimmage,” Whittingham said. “I never would have seen that coming where we didn’t control the line of scrimmage.”

Utah didn’t sack Jaren Hall once, the first rivalry game without a Ute sack since 2008.

Hall finished the night 18-for-30 for 149 yards and three passing touchdowns and zero interceptions.

“We’ve got to hit home. We had zero sacks. That’s unacceptable. No turnovers, no havoc plays at all,” Utah linebacker Devin Lloyd said.

Plenty of BYU quarterbacks have been rattled by Utah’s pass rush over the years, but not once did Hall looked worried about Utah’s defensive line. Most plays, he had time to throw. He also burned Utah multiple times for big running plays to extend drives.

The secondary also got beat a few times by BYU receivers.

Cougar running back Tyler Allgeier rushed for 97 yards, oftentimes turning what looked to be a rush for no gain into 4 or 5 yards. Hall had 92 rushing yards as Utah couldn’t contain him. BYU outrushed Utah 219 to 193.

The Cougars were an excellent 11-of-19 on third down and converted a fourth-and-11 in the second quarter as Hall ran. Utah’s defense could not get off the field at the most crucial times.

“We’ve got to get stops. We didn’t,” Lloyd said. “Too many third-down conversions. That’s as simple as it gets.”

Utah’s defense also did not force a BYU turnover for the the first time since 2009 maybe the key reason why the Cougars won.

The only bright spot for the Ute defense was holding BYU to three points after Utah turned the ball over twice to start the game.

This is the only phase of the game Utah performed OK in. Britain Covey had a 35-yard punt return and DeVaughn Vele had a 27-yard punt return. Punter Cameron Peasley had two punts for an average of 47.5 yards per punt, including one inside the 20-yard line.

Kicker Jadon Redding made a 47-yard kick and missed a 49-yard kick, which came in the third quarter — a period that Utah scored zero points. He made both extra points he attempted.

BYU was the better team on Saturday. By a comfortable margin, too,

The Utes weren’t overly impressive against Weber State and now have lost to their rivals for the first time in over a decade.

We’re only two games into the season. There’s still a lot of football to be played. But as of right now, Utah needs a lot of improvement to be a contender in the Pac-12 this year.

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