Week 12: BYU vs. Utah
Just when I thought I had this BYU team all figured out, they had to go and play a game like this. When I thought their defense was starting to get soft, they stuffed the Air Force offense and forced them into committing four turnovers. Max Hall and the offense looked pretty darn efficient, even if they couldn’t get away with deception.
The key to BYU winning that game was the fact that they were able to control the line of scrimmage. They stopped the Falcons’ fullback dives at the line of scrimmage, leaving the outside backers and safeties to match up and stuff the option. Air Force are never effective throwing the ball, but holding them to 5 of 21 is still pretty good.
The thing that everyone noticed was how much fire BYU played with. I have a tradition of going down to the front row of seats and sitting in someone’s empty spot until the event staff comes to kick me out. I’ve been successful for at least one quarter of every game. Anyway, while down by the field, the BYU sideline was hopping with energy. They were talking trash the whole game, but still kept their composure and executed.
Legend of the Hall
This last game against Air Force could very well sum up the entire career of Max Hall. If you look back at the game with a very objective perspective, you will see that Max Hall did a pretty good job throwing the ball. If you’re not convinced, just look at the stat line. Hall went 33-45, for 377 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions. Any school in the country would be glad to take that kind of stat line from their QB, but here at BYU we see the two interceptions and the fumble and we roll our eyes.
Max Hall has had a great career here at BYU. First off, he has more wins than any other quarterback in BYU history. For as much as everyone bags on the BYU defense, this has to count for something. Second, his completion percentage and QB rating have gotten better each year. His Greatness Tim Tebow and Colt McCoy can’t say the same. Third, he has some marquee wins that define a quality QB, including triumphs over Oklahoma, Arizona, TCU, Utah and two wins over UCLA.
Even with all of his success, BYU fans have a hard time accepting him as one of the greats. There was the expectation that he was going to launch BYU into the BCS and all that jazz, and because that didn’t happen he is often seen as a failure. If John Beck and Max Hall were to switch places in history, Hall would be praised for his success.
Instead of remembering Hall’s “4th and 18″moment against Utah in 2007, BYU fans remember interceptions 1-5 in 2008. They will readily recall his interceptions this year against Florida State, but everyone seems to have forgotten the final drive against Oklahoma. The good thing for Max is that he can change his fate in these last two games.
As of right now Max is 1-1 in games against Utah and in bowl games. If he finishes out his career strong with two victories then maybe BYU fans will recognize his consistency. However, if he loses these last two games, he will be remembered as the guy who threw too many interceptions and couldn’t step up in the big game, regardless of whether or not that’s actually true.
The Unusual Suspects
In the last couple years, BYU fans have known what they are going up against when they play Utah. This year is a little different. There is no more Brian Johnson, Brice McCain, Louie Sakoda or Matt Asiata. Instead, Utah has Eddie Wide, Jordan Wynn and some dude named Shaky. They may not be the names we are used to, but they are players.
True freshman quarterback Jordan Wynn came in a few games back after Juco transfer Terrance Cain proved to be ineffective. Wynn hasn’t been a world beater in his four games, but puts at least puts the Utes in a position to win. His job is a lot easier with Wide in the backfield, who has rushed for at least 100 yards in six games this season. And who is this Shaky character? He is the speedster quarterback that runs their wildcat offense.
Even though most people thought this was going to be a down year for Utah, the Utes have quietly put together a very strong season. Sure, they haven’t gone undefeated, but with the players they have this season is a success. The icing on the cake would be a win over BYU.
I have been thinking about this for quite some time and, to be completely honest, I feel like predicting a score for this game is almost pointless. In a game like this you have to throw everything out the window. It doesn’t matter if TCU beat Utah by more or if BYU beat Air Force by more. It doesn’t matter that BYU has lost two games at home this year and that Utah has lost both of their games on the road. Everyone says that Kyle Whittingham is the better coach, but Bronco has more wins and the series is tied 2-2. Max Hall is undoubtedly better than Jordan Wynn, but the BYU defense has the uncanny ability to make a no-name QB look like a Heisman hopeful. Utah doesn’t have automatic kicker Louie Sakoda, but BYU is stuck with the unpredictable Mitch Payne. This year Dennis Pita will be at full strength, but Harvey Unga is still pretty banged up. So with everything pretty much up in the air, how do I make my prediction? I take my expert stab in the dark. It’s going to be a close game and both teams will make mistakes early. Utah wins late with a field goal. Utah 31, BYU 28.
1. Dennis Pita — He could have had more, but two touchdowns was pretty good.
2. Andrew Rich — Another big day with two picks and a key pass breakup.
3. BYU defensive line — The reason BYU held the Falcons to just 212 yards rushing.
1. Terrence Brown — Whiffed horribly on a block that resulted in Max Hall getting pounded.
2. Intent to Deceive Rule — How did this rule get in there? Did they just need to fill space?
3. O’Neill Chambers — Sure, he had the touchdown, but he looked like a loose cannon on the sideline.
Jake Welch is a sports correspondent for Rhombus. He seriously hopes his prediction is incorrect.
Trackback from your site.