Utahns are accustomed to many things in September. Kids are going back to school, the weather starts to cool down, leaves start to change colors. One thing they are not used to seeing, however, is the “Holy War”. The single day of the year that quite literally divides the state in two. Even many Utah State Aggie fans have an opinion on who they would like to win. For the second consecutive year, the Utah Utes and BYU Cougars will play in the month of September as opposed to playing in November.
We all know the history, hatred, and the tradition of close games behind the epic duel of the two schools which are separated by a mere 44 miles. This year’s game has a bit of a different feel to it. Utah is missing key some key players on both sides of the ball. BYU’s quarterback Riley Nelson will see playing time against the Utes for the first time in his career at BYU as well. So I went to twitter (follow me @crackalacka22) where I asked fans of either side to send in their questions about the game using the hashtag #AskAustin, and I will answer them here.
@AK_Aggie asks, “what adjustments do the utes make to stop Nelson? #AskAustin”.
The differences between Chuckie Keeton and Riley Nelson are a lot bigger than one would think. Riley can run, but doesn’t have the same escapability that Chuckie Keeton has. Nelson’s arm isn’t as good as Keeton’s. So I believe that Utah has to take away Nelson’s strength first. Take away his running game. What you should expect to see from Utah’s defense is a lot of pressure from the outside. Nelson won’t want to run it towards Utah’s strong defensive line. He, as well as the BYU halfbacks, will probably be looking to get to the outside. Utah’s defense likes to blitz their defensive backs, so expect to see a lot of blitzes coming from the outside that will force Nelson, and the other backs, to run up the middle. I believe that Utah’s cornerbacks match up well to BYU’s wideouts, and I don’t think that Nelson’s passing game will be a threat.
@atownmania asks, “How would a Utah loss affect the future of the #HolyWar? #AskAustin”.
Unfortunately I don’t think it will affect the future of the most underrated rivalry in the nation at all. I think that Utah A.D. Chris Hill is pretty stubborn and isn’t going to budge on this one. I think a loss to BYU will really affect the whole program very negatively for this season, but a change in the rivalry and the scheduling is doubtful no matter what the outcome of Saturday’s match on the hill.
@AK_Aggie double dipped on the questions and asked, “what advantages will Utah have on offense#AskAustin”.
I believe that many people would say Utah’s running game. I don’t believe that to be true. John White had a great season last year, but that was under a different offense that allowed him to be a downhill runner. Utah as a team didn’t run the ball well last season (9th in the PAC-12), and sure as heck fire didn’t run the ball well against Utah State In the game against BYU, Utah will have a giant advantage with their outside speed. BYU has never been known as a fast team, and this year is no different. Utah has multiple receivers who run a 4.5 forty or faster. Utah’s chances to capitalize on it will obviously depend on the quarterback (whoever it may be) and his ability to deliver the ball, as well as the play calling of Brian Johnson.
@NoahJorg13, a Utah fan, asked, “What’s the final score? #AskAustin”
Well, since 1997 Utah has given BYU everything it can handle. There were some games when Utah went in with a worse record, and probably less talent, yet was able to either hang in, or win the game. Both teams will come out with a fire in their eyes. BYU will because of a 54-10 beat down in Provo last year, and Utah because of the loss to Utah State last week. With a questionable quarterback situation, and potentially missing John White, Brian Blechen and Eric Rowe will finally catch up to Utah. I expect the Cougars enter Rice-Eccles Stadium, give Utah a good pummeling, and leave having won 34-17.