The theme for the night for the Utes was the number six. First of all, Utah was going for their sixth straight win against BYU, their hated rival, which they were able to pull off in thrilling, albeit frustrating fashion, 20-19. The other reason why the theme for the night was six, was the six turnovers by the Utes. Utah had three interceptions, as well as three fumbles. It could have been a lot worse, because Utah put the ball on the ground a total of six times (see, the six thing?).
Things started off great for the Utes as they opened the game with a pick six (it’s like magic, I swear, the six thing). Sunia Tauteoli was the benefactor of a tipped pass by the BYU wide receiver, and he strolled in for the touchdown. It was like deja vu of the Las Vegas Bowl. On the subsequent possessions by Utah, they had back-to-back fumbles by Raelon Singleton and Joe Williams, setting up two BYU field goals. The defense really toughened up on a short field and saved Utah’s butt.
It was a penalty filled game as well, as Utah had 9 flags for 85 yards, many of them were painful. When Utah wasn't absolutely killing themselves, the offense was pretty productive. Troy Williams was 14-of-23 with 194 yards and 1 touchdown, but he did have those three interception, two of which were awful. One took points off the board, as he threw into triple coverage in the end zone. One of his three was a heck of a play by BYU’s linebacker. Outside of a couple of those turnovers by Williams, I liked what I saw from him. He went deep multiple times to Tyrone Smith and Tim Patrick, who had nice days with 60 and 59 yards on the game. I’m very excited to see Williams to learn from this game and move forward.
Utah was also pretty effective on the ground, especially late in the game. Troy McCormick was slicing BYU up with 62 yards on 10 carries. Utah fans were also introduced to Zack Moss, a true freshman, who had 62 yards on 12 carries, and had a ton of huge carries on the game winning drive. Joe Williams struggled again, but was given another chance in the second half when McCormick was knocked out with an injury. The offensive line redeemed themselves tonight, as they road grated on that last drive, as well as giving Troy Williams a great pocket most the night. One surprising stat, no sacks on Williams.
Utah’s defense was able to pick off Hill three times themselves, which proved to be momentum swinging. They were also able to get to Hill two times with a pair of sacks. Hill was able to get the Utes a couple of times on the ground, gaining 87 net yards, but he was who we thought he was through the air, going 21-of-39 for 176 yards and no TDs. I don’t know about you, but I think the best QB was in red.
Of course, as these games go, it came down to the very last possession. After Utah had an awesome drive of 11:21 that resulted in a field goal, after Joe Williams just came inches shy of a first down (stretch big man!!!). The offensive line really just dominated the line of scrimmage during the drive, and on 4th and short, Coach Whitt said they thought about going for it, but getting the points proved to be a good decision.
Taysom Hill was able to drive the Cougars down the field after hitting a couple of throws, although Cody Barton dropped an interception that would have won the game, as well as some scrambles to move the chains. Hill was able to bust into the end zone after Justin Thomas missed what could have been a sack. That set up a two point conversation, that Kalani Sitake decided to go for the win. Of all the calls, a QB draw play up the middle was the wrong one against Utah’s front, but that’s what Ty Detmer drew up, and Utah gobbled it up.
For the Utes, while it wasn’t pretty, it’s a win to go to 2-0, and next up is San Jose State on the road, before they go into Pac-12 play. If they clean up the mistakes on offense, Coach Roderick may have something brewing on that side of the ball.
Here are some stats:
First downs: 20
Passing yards: 194
Total offense: 363
3rd down: 6-of-12