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September 18, 2013So what's in a number? By now you have all seen the passing and rushing numbers of BYU quarterback Taysom Hill. At first glance, it appears that his weakness hides Utah's weakness and his strength matches up with what seems to be Utah's strength as the defense has only given 290 rushing yards in three games.
So what are the Utes doing to prepare for Hill?
"Not much has changed as far as our preparation, our mindset is to play our defense, and to just basically makes some plays," explained Utah defensive coordinator Kalani Sitake. "Last week we didn't make enough plays and that's our goal this time, to be more disciplined and have more of an emphasis about finishing plays. I mean, we were horrible on third-downs, especially, we had a lot of third-and-long and we've got to make those plays. That's what it comes down to."
Why should the defense be concerned when Hill has a career completion percentage of 46.7%? Primarily because it is a small sample size of 137 pass attempts and 66 of those attempts came in awful weather conditions. The Utah coaching staff once spent a good amount of time recruiting Hill, they know what he is capable of. In high school he was known as a pro-style quarterback, he was not considered the running threat that was on display in the Texas game.
"I think that even his throwing game has been underrated," claimed Sitake. "I think a lot of people don't understand that he basically had to throw in horrible weather for two games, so we're not going to just sit there and say he can't throw because we've seen him before, we've seen him connect on a lot of plays. You try throwing in those conditions, it's difficult."
"He can throw the ball, I promise you that, we have to defend it, we have to make sure that he doesn't throw as well as he can. That's our mindset and we're trying to take away his ability to run, take away his ability to throw, and maybe that's too much to ask for, but we're going to try to do it."
Although Hill's passing game has been almost non-existent, the weapons are still there. Players like Cody Hoffman is just too good to ignore. Add Jamaal Williams to the mix with his 326 rushing yards and the pieces for a well-balanced offense are in place.
Utah head coach, Kyle Whittingham has been impressed with the Cougars' ground attack this season. "They've done a terrific job of running the ball and Texas couldn't slow them down at all. Every week as a defense you want to try to take away what they do well and make them beat you some other way," said Whittingham.
Several questions for both teams still remain. Is Hill really an underrated passer? Will the Ute secondary's hands of stone finally come away with an interception?
"We have to win the turnover battle and our emphasis is-you know, our guys keep working hard, their efforts been amazing, we've just got to put it all together and make sure we execute perfectly within our defense," said Sitake.
If the Ute defense can do this, then Sitake knows that the turnovers will come. Whatever it is that ends up working for BYU in the first quarter-no matter how big or small-expect Sitake, Whittingham, and the defensive coaches to make the proper adjustments. They will not sit idly by like Texas' coaches did two weeks ago.