Postgame Notes and Quotes - Utah
The following notes are from BYU's 24-17 win over No. 21 Utah at LaVell Edwards Stadium on Saturday night.
COIN TOSS CAPTAINS: Keenan Pili, Payton Wilgar, James Empey, Jaren Hall
ALUMNI FLAGS: Dennis Pita (TE), Austin Collie (WR), Max Hall (QB), Reno Mahe (WR)
BYU took its first win over in-state rival Utah for the first time in 12 years and 10 consecutive meetings. It was the first win over the Utes for BYU head coach Kalani Sitake as BYU brought the all-time record to 40-51-4. It was the first win over Utah that did not come down to a last-second game-winning play since 1996 when BYU won 37-17.
With the win over No. 21 Utah, this is the fourth consecutive season BYU has defeated a ranked opponent. In 2020, BYU beat No. 21 Boise State 51-17 while in 2019 the Cougars took down No. 14 Boise State 28-25 and No. 24 USC 30-27 and in 2018 BYU upset No. 6 Wisconsin 24-21. It is only the second time in program history with the last coming 1996-99.
Run the Ball
The BYU offense accounted for 219 yards against Utah. It was the first time BYU has rushed for more than 200 yards against Utah since 1996 when the Cougars had 366 yards on the ground.
Brothers in Arms
Brothers Samson and Puka Nacua were both contributors in their first BYU game. Both recorded receptions with Puka leading all receivers with 37 yards on four catches while Samson picked up his first BYU touchdown and finished with 10 yards.
Scoring for Both Sides
Samson Nacua picked up his first touchdown as a Cougar in the first half. Nacua also scored a touchdown while playing for the Utes in 2018. The only other player to score touchdowns for both teams was Francis Bernard who had a touchdown pass for the Cougars in 2015 before scoring a pick-six for Utah in 2019.
BYU finished the game with two sacks as Keenan Pili, Payton Wilgar, Uriah Leiataua and Caden Haws each had an assisted sack. On the offensive side, the offensive line played a clean game giving up no sacks.
Take it Away
BYU grabbed two turnovers in the game including an interception from Chaz Ah You and a fumble recovery from Isaiah Herron. It was the first time the BYU defense has recorded two turnovers against Utah since 2017 when brothers Fred and Troy Warner tallied turnovers.
Quarterback Jaren Hall went 18 for 30 for 149 yards with three touchdown passes. He added 109 rushing yards a new career-high including a 23-yard long rush.
Running back Tyler Allgeier finished with a career-high 27 carries for 109 yards. It was his 10th career game for 90+ rushing yards and seventh consecutive game of 90+ yards.
Chaz Ah You
Safety Chaz Ah You grabbed his second career interception in the first quarter which he returned for four yards. His last interception came against USF in 2019.
Kicker Jake Oldroyd connected on two field goals a 37-yarder in the first half and a 21-yarder in the fourth quarter. It was his 10th consecutive field goal since the 2019 SoFi Hawai'i Bowl.
Notable career highs/career firsts
First career fumble recovery: Isaiah Herron (1st quarter)
First BYU career reception: Samson Nacua (8-yards, 1st quarter), Puka Nacua (7-yards, 1st quarter)
First BYU Touchdown Reception: Samson Nacua (2-yards, 2nd quarter)
Career-high Passing Touchdowns: Jaren Hall (3)
Career-high carries: Tyler Allgeier (25)
Career-high rushing yards: Jaren Hall (92)
Total Tackles: Earl Tuioti-Mariner (7)
Long Reception: Keanu Hill (36-yards)
BYU head coach Kalani Sitake
On what the win meant for the program
There was a huge sense of urgency from the fanbase. It was nice to get the win for the fans and for our players. I’m just really proud of them. It was a great night. It was a good game. We’ve been on the other side of these games. We feel really fortunate and really happy that we got the win.
On Jaren Hall’s performance
He was able to avoid pressure by using his legs and was able to extend drives. He can run and it’s a weapon that we can use. And he can throw the ball too. I like that he took care of the football. I like that our guys have good ball security. I think Jaren is really starting to come into his own and feel comfortable on the field. I like the way he commands the offense and extends drives.
On the fans’ impact on the game
That was so much fun. I missed our fans and having them at home. They’re something special. You can hear them. They were really loud tonight and made a difference. The performance on the field was a result of what they brought to the table. I’m so thankful for them. I hope our fans know how much our players love them and how much they love playing for them.
On the last minutes of the fourth quarter
I liked the way we ended the game. We went down on that drive and ended up kicking a field goal. I like the way we ran the clock out. Tyler Allgeier, Lopini Katoa and the offensive line, those guys were physical. We had the tight ends and receivers blocking downfield. It was very promising for me as a head coach to see that in my team.
On the coaching staff and learning from the win
One thing I’m really proud of is our staff. Ilaisa Tuiaki had the game plan tonight with the blitz package. He did a great job calling the game. I felt really proud of him and all the coaches. I love watching the assistants on the sideline doing their job, connecting with the players, and having a lot of fun with the fans. Now we have the tough task of learning when we win, and we’re up for the challenge.
BYU quarterback Jaren Hall
On the big drive that led to the field goal
They did a good job bouncing back and scoring. Our defense did a great job all game. I don’t think the momentum really felt like it switched at all. We were confident, we knew our game plan, things were simple and sure enough, we went ahead and marched down and executed to secure the win.
On critical success on third downs
It’s huge to convert on third down. We practice it every week, but it really comes down to our defense. They gave us the ball and it’s all credit to them that we were able to go to work. The defense played a great game and we had our chances and executed from the third down and I’m proud of my team.
On offensive line performance
The offensive line dominated. I felt comfortable back there and I can’t tip my hat off enough to those guys. I love my dudes upfront. Coach Funk has them all dialed up and ready to go and I can’t say enough about them, I am so proud of them.
On their game with no turnovers
It’s not something you stress about because that’s when a turnover happens. Our practices this week were clean and we took care of the ball and correlated that today. Coach Rod was very smart with his play-calling and it resulted in us taking care of the ball.
On celebrating with fans and teammates
Being on the field with the fans was priceless and I am so happy for each and every one of them and all the help they’ve given us. It was fun to celebrate out on the field with them. The locker room wasn’t everyone, but it was all smiles and dancing. We were all very proud of each other and relished in the moment.
On the Big12 announcement and the win
We are very grateful for those who make important decisions like the Big12 and moving us in that direction. We were just happy to get the win tonight and be able to enjoy both.
On keeping a calm mentality when things get tough
I think it’s just contagious. Through the whole offense, we’ve got 11 guys who are seen as leaders. They are experienced and very influential. The energy we had and the confidence we had in each other is contagious. Our running backs did a great job the whole game, giving us energy, and we tip our hats off to them.
On what tonight's win does for the program moving forward
This is huge, it’s momentum from winning two games in a row. Winning this huge rivalry, it’s a very important game. Moving into this next week, we just remain humble and just get ready for Arizona State and move in that direction.
BYU running back Tyler Allgeier
On having success against Utah's run defense
We practiced all week for them. Our scout team gave us a great look at their defense. We came out a little slow, but we ended up picking it up. The defense had our backs and we had theirs. We had to pick it up, ramp it up and do our thing.
On picking up yards in chunks
The four-, two- and six-yard gains - all those little chunks - hit defenses, and you know they're going to break soon; those twos and threes and fours are going to turn into 10s and 20s. We just kept running the ball down their throats and had the results we had today.
On the game-winning drive
The defense had our back. They did get scored on, but they had some key stops. We knew that we had to score and get some points on the board because even a few points make a big difference. It was a whole team win. The offense, defense and special teams all did their thing.
On two straight wins over Power Five teams
Last year we didn't know who we were going to play. We have the same mentality as last year, but this year we are playing even better teams. It was a good win for us.
BYU linebacker Payton Wilgar
On the defense's performance
I'm so proud of them, all the way around from the defensive line to the secondary. I'm so proud. I know anyone on that defense would've sacrificed anything to get that win and that's what we did.
On putting pressure on the quarterback
It's a good thing to be able to blitz and we are only able to if we trust our defensive backs. Kudos to our defensive backs for manning up, locking up and allowing us to get pressure on the quarterback.
On the game-sealing fourth-down stop.
I don't even know how to describe it. It was awesome, an amazing feeling. It's huge to win it on defense with a stop like that. We take a lot of pride in that.
Utah Head Coach Kyle Whittingham
First of all, congratulations Kalani and their football team. They played outstanding, give them credit, they won the football game tonight. They beat us at the line of scrimmage, which I would have bet my house going into the game, that we wouldn’t lose at the line of scrimmage. My house isn't worth that much, so it’s not that big of a deal, but I never would have seen that coming where we didn’t control the line of scrimmage. That’s our MO, that's what we do best and we surrendered 250 yards rushing, had zero sacks, zero takeaways on defense which is not a good recipe for success. Offensively, we were not good enough on third down. We only snapped it 50 times because we couldn’t convert on third down. We were two for nine on third down and they were 11 for 21, so consequently, we snap it 55 times and they snap it 70 times. You have to do a better job and win third downs. They deserved to win, we need to regroup and we have a road trip to San Diego State who put one on Arizona tonight, so we have our hands full in that game. What we’ll do is pick ourselves up on the mat, figure out where our deficiencies are and get them corrected so we are ready to play the Aztecs next week.
On the play up front
On our defensive line, we were getting pushed and that is evident by the running backs. After contact, they were getting three or four extra yards because of the surge of the offensive line. Thor runners ran hard and did a really nice job. We couldn't hold up, we didn’t hold up. That’s my fault, I guess I need to find a way to get them better and put them in situations and positions to make them more successful.
Offensively, we ran the ball pretty well at times. We came away with about 180 yards and I think we were over seven yards per carry, but if you cant convert third downs and extend drives then it’s not going to be a good outcome.
On the 4th and 2 from the 8-yard line
I thought that was the play right there. Just because it’s a bad outcome, doesn't mean that it was a bad decision. I’d do it again. That’s what should have happened in that situation in my opinion and as well as the analytics. You cant base the decision on the outcome. Then they proceeded to go 93 yards after that which shocked me because people don't usually drive on our defense like that. We just couldn;t find a way out of that drive.
On message to the team after the game
The message was that we’re disappointed. We didn’t play as well as we are capable of playing, I can tell you that for certain, but again I’m not trying to take away anything from their victory because they earned it. That was not our best football, we need to pick ourselves up off the mat because we have a lot of football ahead of us. This does nothing to our ultimate goal of trying to win the Pac-12 which obviously is going to be very challenging. We need to pick ourselves up, figure out what we did wrong, get better and move forward.
On quarterback Charlie Brewer
His numbers weren’t bad, we didn’t throw the ball a ton, but his completion percentage was fairly high. We did have the interception and that wasn't the ideal way to start the game with two turnovers. It could have been 21-0 early very easily, but our defense did some good things early on in the game. As far as Charlie’s performance, we’ll have to take a good hard look at the film and see was going on there.
On running back Micah Bernard
He played very well tonight, ran hard, and ripped off some big runs. He’s also a great receiver out of the backfield, so he’s a weapon for us and he played his heart out. Micah certainly seemed to get some separation between him and the other backs tonight.
On his team’s resolve
Our guys, there’s no quit in our guys and I was proud of our guys for hanging in there until the very end, continuing to battle and that’s encouraging. There’s a lot of fight in these guys but we came up short tonight.
On the defensive line
They were surging off the ball and we weren’t getting any knockback. THats something we stress, pride ourselves on and is the starting point to play D-line here. We have to get knockbacks on the offensive line, re establish the line of scrimmage and we weren't able to do that. Consequently, no tfl’s no sacks, no takeaways.
Utah linebacker Devin Lloyd
On the difference between this game and 2019’s game
We did good on control downs, first and second downs, but too many third-down conversions. That’s as simple as it gets. We gave them too many third-down conversions.
On not getting to quarterback Jaren Hall
We had zero sacks, and that’s unacceptable. Zero turnovers, no havoc plays at all, that’s unacceptable for our defense. It wasn’t conservative play-calling, we’ve got to take pride in getting to the quarterback and making big plays.
On anything BYU did that caught Utah by surprise
Everything we saw, we studied. Defensively, we felt very prepared, we just didn’t execute. We didn’t convert in critical situations.
Utah running back Micah Bernard
On going forward on fourth down when Utah was down three
It’s a big game, we’re trying to get in the end zone any way we could. It was a rough little miscommunication, that’s all it was. We’ve just got to get better.
On what BYU did that was so effective
I don’t think they did anything specific. We went over everything they ran, we just couldn’t execute.
On the difference between him and Utah’s other running backs
We all came to work this week. I don’t know what the difference was, I guess I’ve just been here longer. I know what this game means to everyone, so I came out here and just played.
On Utah’s win streak over BYU ending
Nine in a row, we tried to make it 10. We had a good run. We won’t see these guys for another couple years, so it’s tough we had to end it on this one, but we’re going to come back harder and start a new streak.