football Edit

It’s Over, BYU Ends Utah’s Streak

As Utah Coach Kyle Whittingham mentioned earlier this week, “All good things come to an end,” and that seemed to be a sign of things to come as BYU took advantage of Utah turnovers, penalties, and dropped passes and ended Utah’s win streak tonight in Provo with a final score of 26-17.

In a rare outing, especially against BYU, Utah’s defense did not record a single sack or turnover. This has been the recipe for success in prior matchups versus BYU, but it was missing tonight.

“We lost the line of scrimmage and I would have bet my house we wouldn’t lose the line of scrimmage. That’s our MO,” Whittingham declared, “We couldn’t get a sack. We had zero sacks and zero takeaways on defense. Our defensive line was getting pushed. (BYU running backs) were getting three, four, or five yards after a surge,” Whittingham said, “Their runners ran hard and we couldn’t hold up. That’s my fault, I got to find a way to get them better.”

Utah’s offense started out the game with two turnovers in the first quarter. One was an interception thrown by Charlie Brewer and the other was a fumble by running back Tavion Thomas. Thomas has fumbled twice in as many games and nearly had another later in the game, but his knee touched the ground before actually losing the ball.

“It is extremely frustrating,” Whittingham mentioned, “That’s job one. You have got to secure the football. You cannot have the ball turned over and we will have to work on (Thomas) with that in practice. That is two in two games and that is too many.”

After the turnovers, BYU jumped out to a 10-0 lead. Utah managed to drive down the field and score their first touchdown when Brewer connected with Brant Kuithe to make it 10-7. Utah immediately forced another 3-and-out and it seemed momentum was turning in Utah’s favor.

On the ensuing drive, Utah managed to drive down the field and had a fourth-and-short in the red zone as time wound down in the half. Utah elected to try for the first down rather than kick the field goal and tie the game and they were stuffed up the middle. BYU drove down the field and scored a touchdown before the half. After missing the extra point, Utah entered the half down 16-7. That momentum shift may have been the biggest difference in the game.

Kyle Whittingham would not have changed his fourth down decision.

“Analytics, which I don’t pay 100% attention to, had it as a solid go from four or less. We were at two,” Whittingham stated, “I thought that was the play right there. Just because it is a bad outcome doesn’t mean it's a bad decision. I would do it again. That is what should have happened in that situation in my opinion and based on analytics. You can’t base the decision on the outcome.”

The third quarter had BYU scoring the lone touchdown extending their lead to 23-7. Utah began to rally in the fourth quarter with some chunk plays from Micah Bernard. They kicked a field goal to make it 23-10 and then followed that up with a Micah Bernard touchdown with 9:31 left in the game. The Utes were back in it down only six points with plenty of time left.

When they needed it most, Utah’s defense could not come up with a stop. They allowed BYU to drive down the field taking a large chunk of the remaining time and make it a two-score game with a field goal with only 3:17 remaining. Utah was unable to get the ball down the field to attempt a late comeback and that was it for Utah’s winning streak over BYU.

Devin Lloyd mentioned that as the game went on, Utah’s defense had trouble stopping BYU on third downs.

“We have to get stops and we didn’t,” Lloyd stated, “We didn’t control downs and we gave them too many third down conversions. That is as simple as it gets.”

Maybe the lone bright spot of the game for Utah running back Micah Bernard’s performance. He racked up 146 yards and a touchdown on only 12 carries for an average of 12.2 yards per carry. Whittingham mentioned that he was starting to see separation from the other running backs.

“Apparently we are (starting to see separation)” Whittingham said, “(Bernard) played very well tonight. He ran hard. He is also a great receiver out of the backfield so he is a real weapon for us. To answer your question, Micah seemed to get some separation from (Thomas) and the other backs tonight.”

Utah has a lot to think about and fix. With only one non-conference game left before Utah jumps into its Pac-12 schedule, they don’t have a lot of time to figure it out.