Holy War Takeaways

No, I don’t mean the five BYU 1st quarter turnovers, I mean what we learned from the game. I don’t really even know where to start. So much went as I anticipated it would: close game decided by one score, Utah’s offense struggled majorly and BYU lost the turnover battle. Yet the first 10 minutes of the game made the next 50 minutes irrelevant. Utah scored 35 unanswered points in just over 10 minutes to start the game. All 35 points came off boneheaded BYU turnovers. Turnovers that, while obviously were made by players (so spare me the ridiculous “coaches aren’t on the field to make turnovers” statements), in my opinion were very much a reflection of poor coaching and poor preparation. “Attitude reflects leadership, Captain.” – Julius from Remember the Titans.

BYU, once again, was completely flat and scared to start the game. The last time BYU had 5+ turnovers? September 21, 2012 when they had five and lost to Boise State 7-6. The time before that? September 18, 2011 when they had seven and lost toooo… UTAH 54-10. The time before that was vs. Florida State in 2009 when they had five and lost 54-28. The time before that? You guessed it, against Utah again, November 23, 2008 when the Cougars lost the turnover battle to the Utes 6-0 and lost the game 48-24. My point? BYU very rarely turns the ball over 5+ times–only five times in the last eight years. Three of those five have come against Utah. 5+ turnovers three times in 7 games against your archrival (not to mention BYU had four TOs in 2010 17-16 loss to Utah). That is 100% a direct result of being out-coached and players being nervous, which is also largely on the coaches. Good thing Bronco left cuz he should be getting fired anyway.

If anyone can find me a game in which a team was outscored 28-0 from the 2nd quarter on and outgained 386-197 for the game and still won, I would love to see it! Think about that, 35 points with only 197 yards of total offense. Unheard of. Once BYU settled down and realized giving the Utes the ball was a bad idea, they dominated. Utah’s offense literally couldn’t move the ball, as I fully expected and spelled out in previous posts. Utah put together zero drives. None. Not even for a FG. Two touchdowns were scored by the defense, another TD was set up inside the BYU 5-yard line by the defense. Another was set up by the Utah defense at the BYU 25-yard line and the other was a real challenge for the Ute offense–they had to start at the BYU 39-yard line. The best play Utah made all day on “offense” was a fake punt that went for 21 yards. Utah’s offense is sorry! What’s even sorrier though is the fact that BYU still lost the game despite all this.

Whittingham is now 7-3 vs. Bronco in the Holy War, and that’s where it will stay as Bronco is off to Virginia–in fact, he’s clearly been there for a few weeks now. Bronco is a good man and a good coach and I wish him all the best. That being said, BYU fans should be glad he is leaving. BYU’s program had clearly peaked under his leadership. If BYU wants to move up, it’s time to move on. Kalani Sitake (who should be officially announced as the new BYU Head Coach by Monday) should be a massive improvement when it comes to restoring the tenacity and discipline needed to beat your rival. He should also prove to be a major upgrade in the recruiting department–areas in which Utah has destroyed Bronco. As for X’s and O’s, well, that’s yet to be determined, but well worth the risk to get back to national relevance.

In summary, here’s the takeaways from the Holy War in Sin City:

  • Whittingham is still a better coach than Bronco
  • BYU’s players still show signs of being intimidated by Utah’s, while Utah’s show no fear
  • BYU’s players are equally as talented as mighty Pac-12 Utah’s, if not more so at many positions
  • Winning the turnover battle is crucial to winning games–even more important than gaining yards
  • BYU has resilience & heart
  • A game can be won in the first 10 minutes, even if you get outplayed for the remaining 50 minutes
  • There’s still always next year 😉


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