BYU football grades vs. Utah: Cougars outplayed the Utes in most areas
BYU football beat writer Jared Lloyd gives his grades for the Cougar position units and coaches for Saturday’s 26-17 win over Utah at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo:
Jaren Hall was a master at game management on Saturday night. While his numbers weren’t staggering (18-of-30 passing for 149 yards and 3 TDs, eight carries for 92 yards), Hall handled the rivalry pressure perfectly and didn’t make any costly mistakes. He just kept making plays, especially when the game was on the line.
Tyler Allgeier (27 carries, 97 yards) and Lopini Katoa (8 carries, 33 yards) did a great job taking what the Ute defense gave them. Sometimes that meant just getting down for a minimal loss but a lot of times it was rumbling through tackles and falling forward. Their toughness allowed BYU to control the clock.
Wide receivers/tight ends
There weren’t a lot of passes to go around but a number of guys made catches. Neil Pau’u, Gunner Romney and Samson Nacua all got into the end zone for the Cougars. This group also made some key blocks downfield to allow runners to get more yards.
This group played one of the best games BYU fans have seen in a long time. It didn’t give up a single sack, it churned out 219 yards on the ground and it was up to the physicality challenge Utah presented. That’s an elite combination that provided the foundation for the Cougar win.
The Cougar defensive front wasn’t flawless and the guys are sure to wish they had a couple of tackling opportunities back. But, led by seven tackles from Earl Tuioti-Mariner and two tackles for a loss by Atunaisa Mahe, this group refused to be pushed around and made a number of big plays. It also tied up blocks on blitz packages.
Keenan Pili was solid again with seven tackles, while Payton Wilgar made 1.5 tackles for a loss. The linebackers did lose their grip on Utah’s Micah Bernard multiple times but they still managed to keep Utah’s offense from really getting going.
The Ute tight ends were able to make a few big plays in the pass game, including getting into the end zone, but those were the exceptions to the rule. In general, the Cougar coverage was so solid that BYU could put pressure on the backfield. Chaz Ah You was able to come up with an early interception, while Isaiah Herron had a fumble recovery.
Jake Oldroyd may have missed a PAT (made into a 35-yarder because of a penalty) but when the Cougars had to have a couple of big field goals, he came through without any issues. BYU’s punt coverage, however, gave up more yards than it should have.
The combination of preparation, playcalling and focus was impressive as, for the first time in a long time, BYU was equal or at a higher level than Utah was for the entire game. The blitzing was effective on defense, the use of running backs and Jaren Hall in the ground game was excellent and the team just kept making plays. The Cougars were put in great positions to win.