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PROVO -- One great thing about the BYU-Utah game this week is that it isn't the end of the season. There is still lots more football to come. The hard part of the early match up is that neither team has figured out what works for them yet on game day.
That might make the game a little sloppy this year when we have had some well played thrillers recently. No worries, the game will still have two teams playing with all they've got trying to get a win. That will be good to see. I don't need to tell you how close the games have been in the last 15 years or so because everyone already knows, they are good close games. That is what I expect this year. Both teams are tough, physical, competitive teams that play like the demeanor of their coaches. It will be fun to watch.
What a change in play between two teams at Austin. Every once in awhile two teams completely change their performances in each half. BYU and Texas were exact opposites. The biggest challenge BYU had was running the football. You can see what happens to the offense when a team becomes one dimensional. Since BYU couldn't run the ball, Texas played defenses to be able to minimize their passing success. That does bring us to the first objective against Utah (In fact these three objectives are probably the same for both teams since they have similar strengths and weaknesses).
BYU must run the ball effectively. They don't need to run for 200 yards, but 150 would be nice. They need to pick up 4-plus yards on first down and be able to run for firsts on third and short. That will really help the passing game to keep Utah off balance.
Utah is a very opportunistic team. They are good at creating turnovers. After just two games, Utah has three interceptions and have recovered two fumbles. They have only lost one fumble, so Utah is +4 in the turnover category. Those turnovers either stop the opponent from scoring or give their team great field position to score. Four Utah scores have come after an opponent's turnover. The turnover battle is always important, but against Utah, it is critical to hang onto the ball.
Ball security is a must. In past games against Utah, a turnover has started their come back too many times. Last years game is a prime example. BYU has been great in not giving up a fumble, but have turned over the ball three times with interceptions. Sometimes it is hard to get the ball away from the opponent, so you have to take care of it when you've got it. Win the turnover battle and scores off of turnovers and you are a step ahead to winning the game.
Did I say that Utah is opportunistic? Well they are. Utah seems to make a lot of big-gain plays. Long runs, long passes, and big kick returns often set Utah up for points. Last week a back had a 51-yard run to set up a score. BYU has done a good job limiting Utah's "all the way in one play" success in recent games.
Let Utah have the big play on the video game but not on the football field. Utah's offense is inconsistent and will have trouble driving long distances in a lot of plays to score. BYU's defense is good enough to keep Utah from making long drives for scores. That is why BYU needs to limit big offensive plays and special teams have to work hard to prevent long returns. That stuff is how Utah gets momentum and gets more points than they deserve.
This will be another field position game for BYU. It is looking like these kind of games are becoming common. What a difference field position made in the Texas game.
BYU won the field position in the first half and scored 13 points. Texas enjoyed good field position in the second half and scored 14 points.
It makes a difference.
BYU will be very aware of field position and needs to make first downs to help their field position. I believe that BYU will have more opportunities to sustain drives in this game than Utah. Sometime this year they are going to be able finish drives with touchdowns. It might as well be this week.
I'm ready for some football.
- Greg Wrubell reported that in the last six games in Provo, Utah has scored a total of 118 points and BYU has scored the exact same 118 points (He was right, of course).
- In the last 20 years, BYU and Utah have played in the last regular season game 16 times.(the other four were UTEP, Fresno State, Hawaii, and San Diego State because of fires).
- Three of Utah's coaches are ex-BYU players. Six coaches are ex-Utah coaches. That should show that we can all get along.