Gordon Monson: 25 important questions for BYU and Utah four games into the season

Twenty-five alternating questions for Utah and BYU, after each suffered a disappointing loss in the fourth week of its season:

1) What good does it do to guarantee — as Kyle Whittingham did after Utah’s loss to USC — that no team in the South will make it through its Pac-12 schedule undefeated when it’s just as certain that Utah will also not go undefeated from this point on? If the Utes lose another game, that will require USC to lose three league games for Utah to pass it. And if the Utes lose two more … don’t even ask.

2) If BYU celebrates its 2-2 record after playing Utah, Tennessee, USC and Washington, what’s to stop the Cougars from needing to celebrate again going 2-2 over their next four games? In that stretch, they’ll play at Toledo, at South Florida, Boise State and at Utah State.

3) Will the three most overused words in college football — next man up — face-plant four levels deep for the Utes when/if Tyler Huntley and Zack Moss are unable to suit up against Washington State?

4) Who can replace Ty’Son Williams as the mainstay in BYU’s run game?

5) Is Utah too proud and too stubborn to reexamine and basically trash its long-held practice of playing press-man coverage in the back end of its defense when facing Washington State’s Air Raid offense, the same attack that USC used to beat the Utes?

6) What will/can the Cougars do to bolster their run defense against run-happy Toledo, what with their resistance allowing an average of 216 rushing yards over its initial four games, which is more than double what BYU is getting?

7) At No. 19, is Utah, as USC students chanted at the Coliseum near the end of Friday night’s loss to the Trojans, still o-v-e-r-r-a-t-e-d?

8) How hesitant should BYU be to schedule Washington in the future, considering the Huskies have beaten the Cougars in the last two seasons by the combined score of 80-26?

9) Is it a poor reflection on Kyle Whittingham that the Utes committed 16 penalties for minus-120 yards in their loss to USC?

10) Is it a poor reflection on Kalani Sitake that the Cougars committed nine penalties for minus-80 yards in their loss to Washington?

11) How come neither USC coach Clay Helton or Washington coach Chris Peterson in victory made major issues over penalties — the Trojans had 11 for minus-117 yards and the Huskies 10 for minus-90 yards?

12) How heartbreaking was it to see the image of Ty’Son Williams’ mom in the stands, looking down, as her son struggled off the field after suffering a season-ending knee injury?

13) How big of a problem is it that the two areas of greatest concern — the offensive line and the receivers — for the Utes before the season started are still areas of concern?

14) What kind of mammoth season would Zayne Anderson have for BYU if he stayed healthy?

15) Which of the following games, excluding Oregon State, will be the most problematic for Utah … Washington State, Arizona State, Cal or Washington?

16) If BYU actually does go 2-2 over its next four games, giving the Cougars four wins, with the following three games — Liberty, Idaho State and UMass — automatics, how important does a win in the remaining game — at San Diego State — become for Sitake?

17) With all the preseason hype surrounding the Utes, does anything short of a Pac-12 championship and a Rose Bowl berth make Utah’s 2019 season a major disappointment?

18) Will BYU quarterback Zach Wilson, who has been available to the media after the Cougars’ two wins and not available after their two losses, be made available for postgame interviews following a defeat this season? If not, why not?

19) Which of the three problem areas underscored by Whittingham in the USC loss are the most concerning for the Utes moving forward — the penalties, the missed opportunity to score a touchdown from the 2-yard line before the half, or the inability to cover the deep ball, enabling the Trojans with a third-string quarterback to throw for 368 yards?

20) Shouldn’t Matt Bushman be targeted even more than he is in BYU’s attack?

21) Why was Julian Blackmon anchoring Utah’s secondary against USC if his knee was still compromised?

22) Leki Fotu is a stud. It’s not a question, but this is … so, what?

23) Do BYU fans wish the Cougars offense, from a structural and philosophical standpoint, under Jeff Grimes would revert back to what it was when Doug Scovil and Ted Tollner and Mike Holmgren and Norm Chow (in the earlier years) were throwing the ball all over creation, much the way Mike Leach — who learned his craft at BYU — does it in Pullman?

24) For those who want to see Utah and BYU continue their tradition of actually playing football against one another every year, as they have through fat and thin years, leaning one way or the other, for the better part of a century, is it troubling that current administrators are interrupting the series in 2022 and 2023, using Utah’s two-game home-and-away series with Florida and the addition of future games as an excuse/softening blow? Bonus question: Are those future scheduled games little more than bargaining chips for more changes in the years ahead?

25) Will BYU ever again beat Utah in football? Bonus question: Will it get to the point where the Cougars either don’t get the chance or don’t have the inclination to try?

Just wondering.

GORDON MONSON hosts “The Big Show” with Jake Scott weekdays from 3-7 p.m. on 97.5 FM and 1280 AM The Zone.