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Defending Utah’s Offense

25 November 2010 Brett Richins 10 Comments
Utah Quarterback Jordan Wynn (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Utah Quarterback Jordan Wynn (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

The BYU Cougars face the No. 14 scoring offense in the nation when they take on Utah in the Holy War this Saturday.

The Utes offense will clash with BYU’s stingy defense, which has shut down their last three opponents, giving up a total of just 24 points in those games, most of that coming in garbage time.

Since Bronco Mendenhall has taken over as defensive coordinator the Cougars have become one of the nation’s most difficult teams to run against, while also ranking 19th in the country in pass defense.

Utah will pose much more of a test for Mendenhall’s defense than they have received in recent weeks from the likes of Wyoming, UNLV, Colorado State and New Mexico.

Utah is averaging 252 yards passing and 163 yards rushing while putting up over 37 points a game.

On the ground Utah will seek to establish running backs Matt Asiata (5-11, 220 Sr.) and Eddie Wide (5-10, 195 Sr.) who have combined for 1, 260 yards rushing this year. The bruising Asiata has accounted for 650 of those yards on 142 carries (4.6-yard average) while the more elusive Wide has gone for 610 yards on 125 attempts (4.9-yard average).

As the trigger man in the Utes’ spread offense, Jordan Wynn is currently 30th in the country in pass efficiency with a 143.92 rating, ahead of such notable quarterbacks as USC’s Matt Barkley, Ryan Lindley of San Diego State and Taylor Potts of Texas Tech.

Wynn appears to have regained much of his confidence in last week’s 38-34 come from behind win over SDSU that he had lost in lop-sided losses to TCU and Notre Dame. He has passed for 2, 135 yards in nine games this year for a 237-yard average.

At his disposal is an excellent group of receivers including Devonte Christopher (6-1, 200 So.) and Jereme Brooks (5-7, 170 Sr.), who between them have gathered in 85 receptions for 1,179 yards.

The Cougars will also have to keep an eye on the always dangerous Shaky Smithson (5-11, 202 Sr.) who is third on the team in receiving yards as well as one of the top return men in college football. Luke Mathews (6-1, 201 So) provides a big play threat and leads the Utes in yards per catch with an 18.2-yard average.

One Ute that could be a wild card on Saturday is wide receiver Reggie Dunn (6-0, 170 So) who is the fastest player on the team. Look for Utah to try to take advantage of Dunn’s speed from various positions on the field against the BYU defense, including lining him up in the backfield as a running back.

BYU’s approach to this game will likely be to try to make the Utah offense as one-dimensional as possible. I believe they will seek to shut down the Utes on the ground and force a somewhat inconsistent Jordan Wynn to beat the Cougars’ pass defense with his arm.

The Cougars are thin on the defensive line since losing their top two nose tackles, so the biggest challenge for the Cougars may come late in the game when they may wear down. Look for Bronco to rotate as much as possible to keep his D-line fresh.

I expect the BYU linebackers and safety Andrew Rich to be flying to the ball all afternoon.

The play of the linebackers, along with the entire front seven, has been outstanding during the second half of the season. They have been excellent at flowing to the ball and have been playing with a great deal more passion and enthusiasm while executing Bronco’s game plans at a very high level.

There is no reason to believe that we’ll see anything less on Saturday.

I expect the Cougar defense to continue to play at a very high level and be a huge factor in this game, coming up with a key turnover or two and slowing down Jordan Wynn and the Utes for much of the day.

Fearless Prediction for Saturday:

BYU 27 Utah 22

Cougars finish 7-5 overall and 6-2 in conference, good for second place in the MWC and they receive their sixth consecutive Las Vegas Bowl bid to face the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Welcome to the Deep Shades of Blue Community!


  • Ryan F said:

    Whichever way it goes, I think the game will be decided in the 1st half.

  • BYU DUDE said:

    Cougars will surprise Utah with Great defense,

    >On offense Jake Heaps will grow up before our very eye’s
    BYU shocks the state of Utah, with three freshmen on offense. Sending a message to senior high school players every where that if you are good, you can start right away at BYU.

  • kiyoshige said:

    Wow, Brett, bold prediction! I also think it will be decided in the first half, but overwhelming in the Utes favor this year. I do think that our young team is not going to be up to this daunting rivalry task. They will learn from the experience, however, and the future is still bright.

    We just haven’t got the job done this year against the good teams we’ve faced. Utah 34-10.

  • Brett Richins said:

    Come on kyoshige,

    Have some faith, LOL!

  • Dave said:

    Agreed, Brett. Let’s stay positive here, Utah hasn’t played any kind of a schedule this year, their best wins came against AFA and SDSU, games that they won by a combined total of 9 pts after forcing 9 TO’s in both games…I’d say if we keep out turnovers down, we have a pretty good shot at walking out of RES with a W. Go Cougars!

  • Dave said:

    Last comment came out wrong, Utes forced 9 TO’s combined in the AFA and SDSU games :) Go Cougars!

  • Brock said:

    Every year this game is a coin-toss as to who wins. With momentum on the side of the Cougs over the last month you gotta like our chances, but Utah has a stout interior D-line and a sometimes nasty O-line.

    Ultimately, BYU is playing loose with nothing to lose. Utah is tight having not met up to the expectations they set for themselves. Kind of reminds me of when BYU was on their “Qwest” and lost to TCU, they were deflated and never did play well after that. They looked like they were playing not to lose, instead of hungry to win.

    My head says Utah will win this one, but my heart says the intangibles are on the Cougs side. If Jordan Wynn plays the whole game Cougs win, if Terrance Cain comes in they run all over BYU and Utah wins. Either way, this is one of the most interesting matchups between these two programs. There are so many variables and subplots to look for . . . just can’t wait for kickoff!

    Let’s hope Jake Heaps continues his progress and wins his first of four straight against the U!

  • joe said:

    I am thinking we do what we did last year and don’t let the QB lose the game for us, JJ, Juice, and Kariya are gonna run down the ute throat and slowly take them out of the game!
    Go Cougars!

  • Seth Robins said:

    Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe Shaky’s career is over due to concussions.

  • Hoax said:

    @Seth you’re thinking of his cousin. He’ll play today for sure.

    I’m nervous/excited for today’s game. I think it’ll be a nailbiter with BYU stopping Utah’s potential GW drive. BYU 21 Utah 17 is my prediction.

    GO COUGARS!!!!

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