Sloppy. Careless. Frustrating. Despite all of the negatives, it was a Utah victory in a nasty rivalry game against the Cougars. While we still don’t know everything at only two weeks into the 2016 season here are four things we learned from the Utah, BYU Holy War.
1. Defense will be the glue this season
Without the defense, Utah would have been absolute toast against BYU. The defensive line created turnovers by putting the pressure on BYU quarterback Taysom Hill forcing him to throw three interceptions and held him to only 185 passing yards. Only 13 points were allowed by the defense despite having to bail out the Utah offense several times. Near the end of the game, with a score of 19-20, the Cougars had the opportunity to win with a two-point conversion and the defense once again came up with a huge stop to secure the win. Without a doubt, they are the heroes for the Holy War.
2. Ball Handling
If Utah is going to be a real contender for the PAC 12 South there has to be great improvement with ball handling. During the Holy War it was as if the ball was covered in Crisco and we learned that this critical issue did not discriminate. Running backs, the quarterback, wide receivers and even punt returners had struggles with maintaining ball control and numerous were self-inflicted. With three fumbles all caused by ball handling many Utah fans were left scratching their heads as to what could possibly be causing such consistent problems. Let’s just hope it was rivalry anxieties.
3. Troy Williams can march down the field
While Utah newcomer, quarterback Troy Williams displayed various flaws throughout the rivalry game one positive that we can take away from this game is that he can get the score when it’s absolutely necessary. Notwithstanding Williams’ errors with throwing three interceptions under pressure he was able to march down the field with four minutes left and get Utah a touchdown that shifted momentum back towards the Utes before the half. The Utah quarterback averaged a 61% passing rate and averaged 8.4 yards per pass. Overall, he seemed to throw the ball much better but he has got to figure out how to handle the pressure without throwing an interception.
4. Running Backs
Last week the Utes exposed a possible controversy at running back. This week it was obvious. On just his second carry of the game, Utah running back, Joe Williams fumbled the football for his second loss in two games. Williams went on to sit the rest of the half before returning to finish with 10 carries and 26 yards. He is still convincing as a powerful running back but his Achilles heal in ball carrying is haunting his starting dreams. Next in the line up is small, but thus far successful Troy McCormick, who for the second week in a row came up huge every time he touched the ball. McCormick had 10 carries for 62 yards and led the Utes in rushing. It was the debut of freshman Zack Moss who has peaked the interest of Utah fans though. In the running back’s debut, he went for 58 yards and had 12 carries. If Moss continues this pattern he will have a great future for the Utes.
Overall, while the turnovers were extremely concerning, we saw some improvements across the board for the Utes. If they can continue to progress I think they still have a chance at being a quality contender in the PAC-12.
What were some of your takeaways from the Holy War?