First games of the season are always weird. It’s been 9 months since the team has played someone other than themselves, and there is just so much new about kicking off a new campaign. This year makes it extra strange with it being a rivalry game against BYU. These are three keys I think that the Utah Utes need to pull off to walk out with 9 straight over the BYU Cougars.
1 - O-line needs to ball out
The offensive line is plugging in some new starters, so opening games can be a learning experience for the group. With a returning starting QB and RB, and some talent at wide receiver, if the offensive line does their job then Utah should be able to march up and down the field on BYU. They especially need to set the tone early on to get the offense jump started. That means no bad snaps, no stupid drive killing penalties, and clean blocking, especially in the red zone. If the Utes o-line plays well, it will be a fun night.
2 - Get after Zack Wilson
The Utes defensive front is as good as we’ve seen at Utah. They need to be in the backfield all night long, and finish off TFLs when they present themselves. I want to see Anae, Fotu, Penisini, Tonga, and crew just wrecking shop against what may be a talented offensive line. Way too often last year in this game, they let Wilson squirt out of a TFL and pick up cheap yards. The defensive front has to finish off plays when they are presented and make Wilson’s surgically repaired shoulder feel a bit of heat.
3 - Get off to a fast start
It took the Utes getting down 20-0 last year before they started to wake up and play some ball. The Utes need to come out and get going early, which is easier said than done in an opener. That means no muffed punts, like last year after a BYU three and out, which led to an easy opening score for the Cougars. That means being locked in and focused from the get go, and knowing that you’re the better team and playing like it. Utah needs to get BYU down early, and make them play catch up. The longer BYU hangs around, the more hope they get to break the streak and spring the upset.
Take care of business. That needs to be the tone and mentality that Utah goes down there with. BYU is going to be hyped and throw as many haymakers at them as possible. It’s going to be up to the veteran leadership to make sure they weather any kind of storm, and to put away the Cougars when the chances arise.
Let’s get it done.