Believe it or not, there was a game Saturday. I know! Who knew? But it happened and unfortunately, for the third time in four years, the Utes LOST.
What's worse is that the Utes didn't even play all that good. It was like 2007 all over again where the offense stagnated and yet, they had their chances there at the end. Just a slightly better effort at any point during the first three quarters would have probably been enough for a Utah victory. But they just couldn't deliver.
Painful. Especially when you realize this Holy War ended just the same as the last two BYU wins - miracle plays that will be played over and over again by the Cougar faithful until the Utes once again regain the upper hand in this series. Hopefully that happens next year.
Anyway, the grades are after the jump...
Offense: D - It was pathetic. The play calling was probably the worst I've seen of the Whittingham era and made Andy Ludwig look like freakin' Bill Walsh. What's worse is that Utah's freshman quarterback Jordan Wynn played just like a freshman. But you can't really get too down on him since it was only his fourth career start at Utah.
The worst part is that the Utes actually started off amazingly on offense. They picked apart the BYU secondary on their first two drives, moved the ball down field and then stalled. The first time came after Wynn got his bell rung and they inexplicably ran a reverse with Terrance Cain in there and lost 15-yards. That killed the drive and the Utes would have to settle for a field goal.
After another three and out by the BYU offense, they once again got the ball back and marched all the way down the field. But, as it has been all season, the red zone offense stunk up the joint and again they could only get three out of it.
That pretty much sums the game up for Utah. Had they scored a touchdown on either of those drives and I think the tone is set and everything changes in Utah's favor.
After that last field goal, Wynn really struggled and the play calling went to hell.
But this is the Holy War and rarely does one team dominate for an entire game. Down 20-6 in the fourth, the Utes had a furious rally that eventually tied the game up and pushed it into overtime. Yet the play calling was suspect throughout, especially when, down three and facing a first and five, Utah failed to gain a first down.
They punted and thanks to the defense, got a huge stop and managed just enough to get into field goal range to send the game into overtime. In overtime, the poor calls didn't stop and then the Utes opted for a field goal on 4th down and one even though rarely does kicking the field goal there result in a win. It didn't.
Am I the only one who thinks they should have just gone for it?
Defense: B-plus - The defense did everything they could to deliver Utah a win. It wasn't perfect, but they held the Cougars to only 20-points in regulation and once again took Hall out of the equation. In the fourth quarter, they got every stop possible and though Utah eventually finally capitalized on the offensive end, it was too little too late to win it in four quarters.
I am very happy with the defensive effort, though. I thought this was going to be the most questionable aspect of Utah's game heading into the rivalry and they played the best. I guess it was the inexperienced offense we all should have been worried about, eh?
Hopefully this defense carries over into the bowl game, because I'm not so sure the offense is capable of doing anything special.
Special Teams: C-plus - There were a lot of mistakes, but the Utes did well on the kickoffs and were kept in the game because of Joe Phillips' five field goals. He really was the MVP outside of the defense.
- Aaron Roderick: D - His play calling was horrendous. Whittingham has a lot to decide this offseason and I don't think I'd be opposed to a shakeup on the offensive end. I liked Roderick prior to this game and one really poorly called game does not mean he's trash. But there has got to be some work done here or it won't matter how talented the Utes are next year - they will struggle against better teams.
- Kalani Sitake: B+ - As I mentioned above, I thought the defense was great. They weren't perfect entirely, but when Utah leaned on them the most in that fourth quarter (especially on the Cougars' final two drives), they did everything and more to get a stop. You can't fault them for the overtime debacle, especially since we all knew the second Utah kicked the FG they were going to lose.
- Kyle Whittingham: C - Whittingham wasn't bad, but this is the third Holy War he's lost on the final play. I don't know if it 's just a coincidence or what, but his teams just aren't getting it done in the clutch. Now that's not suggesting I blame Whittingham, but it would be nice to win a close one for a change.