Holy War 6-Peat, My Day-After Thoughts

What a weekend! I had to endure another BYU loss to Utah–the sixth straight, we got opening weekend of the NFL and my fantasy team is off to a horrendous start, and today is 9/11. A lot going on.

Let’s focus on the Holy War though, since I’ve had nearly 24 hours to digest it all.

Utah won their 6th straight game vs. rival BYU, but somehow the rivalry still feels close every game. Probably because it is. Each of the last four Holy Wars have been decided by 7 points or less, and 16 of the last 19. Yes, in the last 19 years, only three games have been more than a one possession game. Props to Utah for not only owning all three of those more decisive victories, but also winning the majority of the close games of late. Takeaway: these teams are quite evenly matched, though each school wants to claim the other is the little brother–Utah owned the leather helmet era, BYU owned the 70s and 80s, from 1990 – 2009 the series went 10-10. Since then it’s been all Utah. Why? As much as BYU fans hate to hear it, the Pac 12. Recruiting for Utah improved dramatically the moment Utah announced they’d be a member of the Pac 12. A few years before that, Urban Meyer worked wonders to drastically improve the overall vibe, passion and attitude around the entire program, from the boosters, to players and especially the fans. Those two things, and nothing else, have catapulted Utah to where they are today.

The harsh reality is that unless BYU can get in a Power Five conference (the Big 12), they’ll continue to fight an already uphill battle in the recruiting world. The Honor Code, juggling missionaries coming and going and now the biggest recruiting rival just 45 minutes up the road can offer young athletes the Pac 12 exposure and experience. Tall order for Sitake and co. But then again, this is Kalani Sitake and Ty Detmer we’re talking about, I think they’ll do better than most could in the same circumstances. Can you imagine the recruiting those two could pull off though given the extra firepower of the Big 12? Could be enough to swing the pendulum back in BYU’s favor. Until then though, the best Cougar fans should hope for is to win maybe 1/3 games, which would obviously be a major step forward from their current state.

My thoughts on the game? Ugly game with loads of turnovers and penalties, but still very entertaining. I doubt either coaching staff was stoked on what they saw from an X’s and O’s standpoint.

Utah: Whittingham showed his timid self by not going for it on 4th and inches when BYU’s defense was clearly gassed and getting pushed around. Weak move that nearly cost his team the game.Utah has some great backs in McCormick and Moss. Quick, shifty guys who are a bright spot on their not-so-bright offense. Six turnovers has got to be a reason to worry. Entire team had butterfingers. O-line and D-line both looked solid! Secondary was all over Cougar receivers, but that could be a combo of BYU lacking speed and Utah DB’s playing really well.

BYU: Sitake showed more passion and emotion in one game than Bronco showed in 10 years. Detmer showed he’s new to coaching as the offensive gameplan for BYU was bad and execution maybe even worse. Jamaal should have had more than 12 carries, maybe twice as many. I love the call to go for two to win the game. I don’t love the QB draw play call though. I also don’t love coming out of a timeout on the most important play of the season with only 10 players on the field. I also don’t love lining up, seeing the defense and not checking out of the playcall to either audible or take the delay of game penalty (BYU had no timeouts left), kick the PAT and live to fight another day in OT. Lots of execution problems that BYU needs to improve ASAP if they want a chance against UCLA, but I think BYU is in very good hands with Sitake at the helm.

Officiating: Horrible. Too many penalties in general–on both sides. And I sincerely feel the targeting call on Nacua is the worst call I’ve ever seen. I don’t fault them for throwing the flag given the rules and the real-time speed of the play, but I fault them majorly–to the point of feeling they should be fined and suspended without pay for reviewing the play so thoroughly and not reversing it. Such a joke.

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