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Who wins Saturday, by Markell Staffieri

21 November 2008 Deep Shades of Blue 22 Comments

I have looked at every statistical category from TFLs allowed to Time of Possession to Punting and it all adds up to one very exciting, and very close game.  On paper the difference between BYU and Utah comes down to the decimal point, almost all the way across the board.  So what are the factors that will put BYU over Utah on the field?  I think this game is going to come down to 3 things, all controlled by the big boys in the trenches.

The first factor is Max Hall’s pocket time.  If our Offensive line can give Max at least 3 seconds in the pocket our passing offense will move the ball down the field.  3 seconds will afford our receivers enough time to shake loose in man coverage and find a soft spots in Utah’s zones.

The second is our ability to stop the Ute Run Game.  Utah is averaging 4.34yds/rush so far this year and BYU gives up an average of 3.96yds/rush so far.  That means that anyway you slice it the Utes could run the ball on every down and never see 4th down.  We need to cut the yds/play in half this game.  I think we can do it.  The extra emotion of the day will give our D the tenacity it needs to make it happen.

The final key to the game is the physicality.  Last year I was so fired up when on like the 2nd or 3rd play of the game Mike Reed just absolutely destroyed the Ute safety on a block.  It set the tempo for the day.  We were punishing them all day!  Whoever comes out and plays more physical on Saturday will win in the end.  Sometimes you just have to beat your opponent into submission.

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  • Scott T said:

    In the last Air Force, I noticed Bronco and Coach Hill would put 4 guys at the D line to really limit the rush and yards per carry.

    Is that just the recipe for Air Force, or would that be effective against Utah?

    You guys are the shiz….

  • Gary said:

    How is that Utah can play so well in big games? No matter what they always rise to the occassion against us and they almost always win their bowl games.

    They also seem to make adjustments well. In 2006 I thought we were going to blow them away when our offense scored at will the first couple of possessions only to see their defense shut us down after that.

    The TCU game I also thought was going to be a blow out for TCU when all of a sudden the Utes defense makes adjustments and TCU fails to score again.

    I agree with Staff that our offense will succeed if Max gets time to throw. If he is hurried the whole game he will forget to check off and start forcing it in to his first option.

    This will be a great game but I hate how you can never predict what will happen. In these rivalry games you can look at all the information available and make your best educated guess on what might occur only to sit down and watch the complete opposite happen.

    Go Cougars and thanks Staff

  • Trueblue said:

    Agreed, the cougars need to come out with monster intensity and make the Utes pay on every down.

  • BYUJACK said:

    I agree with everything you said…. and the only thing I would add is BYU has to run the ball at Utah and make the linebackers play the run first to limit the time and depth they have to cover the middle. The Utah defense sets up for Pitta to have a big time game. Lets hope he is good physically.

    This should be a game of whose big boys wants it more. Good old fashion football. Stop the run and pressure the quarterback. Which ever defense does these two things the best wins the game in my opinion provided one team isn’t +3 in turnovers.

  • Markell Staffieri said:


    Just an FYI on your comment. Utah actually has the nation’s longest bowl win streak right now. I am not sure what the number is, but I think it is around 8.

  • Markell Staffieri said:

    One thing I did not mention in my post is the kicking game. I am not sure where to put it, but Utah has an edge here in that Sakoda is pretty much automatic up to 45 or so. We don’t have that. That means that Utah has a shorter scoring field. In a close game that could make the difference.

  • Tony said:


    Can you talk some to BYU’s defensive strategy against Utah. I haven’t read Gooch’s post yet, so perhaps he covers it.

    I would think, given all the “change of direction” type & trick plays they run, that perhaps out LBs will contain more…rather than apply pressure…I suppose this is pretty typical of our gameplan over the last few years, but wondered if you thought Bronco/Hill will Blitz the Backers much….This is the one area where Utah seems to do pretty well…they see the blitz and dump a weakside screen, or pass in the flat.

    I’m thinking we allow them to get their “under” stuff most of the game, while trying to stop the run, and bust up the bigger pass.

    I’m also hoping that if we’re up a score or so w/ little time remaining that we don’t go into the soft prevent (which seems to be the worse thing to do against a “spread offense”).


  • Markell Staffieri said:


    I am not going to pretend that I am as smart as Coach Hill and Coach Mendenhall, as I know they have watched far more film than I have this week. But I think the mentality has to be first and foremost STOP THE RUN! However many guys it takes to do that will determine how effective their passing game will be. If we can stop the run without blitzing, which is what we did the majority of the time in 07 and 06, we can let the LBs help out on the underneath stuff.

    I don’t think that Asiata and Mack are any better than the backs we have already faced, but I do get a little nervous with Casteel and Godfrey. We will have to play them much like TCU played Pitta and Collie.

    I think you will see run blitzes early to discourage the run game and then a lot of zone coverage either cover 2 or 3 to help out over the top on Casteel and Godfrey, like a zone double team. I just hope the players watched more film than the coaches this week, because they are going to be the ones on the field.

  • Brett said:

    I would agree with BYUJACK …. I will feel nervous if BYU comes out throwing like they did against TCU … my ideal picture of how the game starts is BYU taking the ball first and establishing the run in the first two sets of downs. pass plays can be disrupted, but there is something to be said for just dominated a team physically that sets the tone and is demoralizing … i remember a 2004 home game where wyoming took a 13-10 lead late in the third quarter. when BYU got the ball, they ran it like 8 out of 9 plays, marching down the field for the go-ahead score, 17-13. when BYU got the ball again, wyoming was demoralized by how they had been dominated, and BYU did it again, calling NOTHING but runs en route to another score 24-13. if BYU can assert themselves up front, they can win this game.

  • gary said:


    Basically, I agree with your “ideal start” for the Cougars. In 1985’s season opener in Seattle against Washington Huskies the Cougars reeled off 11 straight running plays to march down the field and score. The Cougars finished with a 33 to 3 victory over the Huskies. As Gooch stated in his summary, it come down to the cougars running game, clock management and controling the LOS.

  • Witt said:

    Turnovers. Bronco’s key performance indicator. If BYU does not turn over the ball, or at least win the margin, the Cougars win the game.

    Johnson can be erratic but the secondary will have to step up to take advantage because I don’t see many Ute running backs losing the ball.

    I also have been saying all week that the game will be won and lost in the space between the Cougars’ O-Line and the Ute D-Line, and this is what will determine who wins the turnover margin. Protecting Max will protect the football and that will win or lose the game for us.

    BYU by 13. I really hate the Utes.

  • Josh said:

    Quinn, Staff:

    What do you think about the Utes pass d? They are not much better than ours (36th to 42 in efficiency). Max on the other hand is a much more efficient passer than BJ (170 to 143). Could this be a hidden key?

  • Kolby said:

    Come on now Utahs “D” is better who are we kidding , their special teams are incredible, and you know there offense might not look high powered but they do have depth.

  • cory said:

    I think we are going to win by more than 10 points, no drama come back this year, we are just gonna score more than they can handle.

  • Felix said:

    Argh, is it 4 oclock yet?

    Let’s play!

  • Doug Witt said:

    Kolby, I’m going to agree that Ute D is better this year. But Special Teams? We need to qualify that as “Louie Sakoda kicking.” No question, Sakoda could play on Sunday for many years to come, but probably not as a punter if the TCU game is any indicator. I hope he punts that way today.

    Santiago has sure improved and if he brings his best game today we could have a field position advantage.

    We have two big threats: One, the Yew-tard D-Line getting to Max. The second, Sakoda scoring every time the ‘Tards get inside the 30.

    BYU by 13.

  • Markell Staffieri said:

    Josh & Kolby. While Utah’s D overall is definitely better than ours the pass D is a bigger question mark. Especially when you put them against our great passing game. I do think though that their pass rush is really good. If Max has time we can move the ball, but if we do not stop Kruger and Misi we could be in trouble.

  • Josh said:


    Thanks. You guys are awesome to take the time to answer us amateur armchair QBs

    Will the Utes bring people like they usually do or will they drop 7 or 8 like Tcu did?

  • Walt said:


    The point comparison amongst common is not close and way in Utah’s favor. Please comment

  • Walt said:

    common opponents

  • Walt said:


    If you hate somebody or some thing, it skews your think! We might win but if we do it won’t be by 13!

  • Walt said:

    thinking & judgement

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