BYU Football: Instant Takeaways From Win Over Utah Tech
PROVO, Utah – BYU football defeated Utah Tech, 52-26 on Senior Day. Here are some instant takeaways from the victory that now improves BYU’s record to 6-5 on the season.
Jaren Hall showed off his ability to go deep
BYU quarterback Jaren Hall came into this season looking to improve his deep pass accuracy. Hall, who is fully healthy after dealing with a shoulder injury in October, put together a career-high passing performance through the air. Thanks in large part to his deep passes.
The deep ball was a big piece of why Zach Wilson catapulted up NFL draft boards, all the way up to No. 2 overall in the 2021 draft. Hall hasn’t said whether he is leaving BYU or not after this season for the NFL, but the proof of concept he showed on Saturday definitely didn’t hurt his NFL cause if he wishes to move on after this year.
Where was the ground attack for three quarters?
BYU entered the fourth quarter with less than 100 yards against Utah Tech. Through the first quarter, the ground attack was non-existent, forcing Jaren Hall to set a career-high through the air.
BYU started the game with Hinckley Ropati, who had a big performance in the win over Boise State. Then Lopini Katoa entered the game and fumbled his only carry of the day in his last home game.
Chris Brooks returned for his first game since the loss at Liberty. He eclipsed the 100-yard mark in the game thanks to some big runs in the fourth quarter. But it was a non-descript day for a ground attack that should have overwhelmed an undersized Utah Tech defensive front.
Lackluster game to close out the Independence era at home
There probably wasn’t a better way to close out the Independence era at home for BYU than with a closer-than-expected game against an FCS team that became a flag fest in the second half.
Today’s game was an example of the concern with a late bye then, followed by a game against an FCS opponent. Instead, BYU seemed to be going through the motions against a Utah Tech squad with nothing to lose.
BYU’s wide receiver unit might be their best going into the Big 12
The wide receivers might be the best position group for BYU heading into the Big 12 Conference. Puka Nacua hasn’t officially announced that he is moving on to the NFL, but even if he does, BYU still has Chase Roberts and Keanu Hill returning.
Hill had an excellent day against Utah Tech, recording a first half hat trick for touchdowns. He finished the day with six catches for 137 yards and three touchdowns.
Roberts is a deep play threat for BYU in the future, and he already showed signs of his playmaking ability this season.
Even seldomly used Terence Fall had a nice touchdown run under one minute left in the fourth quarter on a jet sweep.
Then you add Kody Epps, returning from a season-ending shoulder injury. BYU passing game coordinator Fesi Sitake has done an excellent job with this group. It’s one of the reasons he’s up for the Broyles Award, which is given to the top assistant coach in college football.
Missed an opportunity to give significant playing time to young guys
One of the benefits of playing an FCS team late in the season, typically for BYU, is that it has provided an opportunity to play younger players. That didn’t happen against Utah Tech until 3:39 left in the contest.
Due to the matchup staying a two-possession game until the fourth quarter, BYU had to keep their first unit on the field until late in the game.
Credit to Utah Tech for giving BYU’s defense everything they could handle in stretches of the game.
Suppose Jaren Hall is moving on after this season. In that case, the chance to give reps to Jacob Conover could have been a valuable evaluation before BYU moves into the offseason before the Big 12.
If you had told me before the BYU football season that BYU wouldn’t get bowl eligible until a late November home game against Utah Tech, I probably would have called you crazy.
But that’s how the season played out. BYU’s win over Utah Tech gives the Cougars their sixth win of the season, which means they are going to a bowl game this year.
The most valuable piece to clinching a bowl bid is that they will get extra practice time.
ESPN will place BYU in one of its “ESPN Events” properties.
BYU has been in a bowl game for 16 of the last 17 seasons dating back to 2005.
Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow Mitch and his BYU/Utah Tech coverage on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.