Utah fans have to be more nervous about tonight's game against BYU than they imagined they'd be. Utah's offensive line is suspect, the defense is thinned by injuries, a new quarterback will start for the Utes and running back John White's health is in question.
So who are we going with in picking a winner? I'm going with the Utes when everything about this game says to pick the Cougars.
Call me a homer if you want, but I like how Utah coach Kyle Whittingham's teams have responded after big losses such as last week's.
A horrendous loss at UNLV in 2007 was followed by a 7-game winning streak and last year's loss at Cal was followed by a 4-game winning streak.
Since I've been on the beat since 2006, i can remember only one time when Utah let a loss like last week's affect them the following week. That was in 2010, when Utah followed a 47-7 whipping at TCU then played poorly at Notre Dame in a 28-3 loss.
Winning tonight won't be easy by any means though.
Here are the critical areas in which the Utes must be successful if they are to win.
1. The Utes have to have a better first quarter than they've had this year. A couple of turnovers by the defense, ideally from pressuring BYU quarterback Riley Nelson, would be the best way for the Utes to start.
2. Get some coverage help. Utah's defenders have to better than they were at Utah State, particularly corner Moe Lee who was picked on time and again.
3. Get Kenneth Scott involved in the game early. DeVonte Christopher and Dres Anderson are Utah's top two receivers, but I like the way Scott is starting to play. At 6-3, 202-pounds, Scott is a big target and a physical player.
4. Let Travis Wilson take some shots down the field. I think many people were disappointed Wilson wasn't allowed to take some more shots down the field last week. The kid has an arm, so here is hoping the Utes let him use it.
5. Clean up special teams. From blocked punts to bungled snaps, Utah's special teams has been subpar this year. It hurt them last week and could translate into a loss again this week. The Utes can't afford to make mistakes, particularly on special teams.
- Lya Wodraska
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