Dyer: We learned that we can hang defensively with top Pac-12 teams. Utah safeties were good and corners were solid. On offense, the wide receivers really stepped up against the NFL-caliber corners at USC. DaVonte Christopher and Dres Anderson really took it to USC in that game.
What is the Utes' biggest strength coming into the game?
Gunther: Defense. The defensive line is tremendous, and Brian Blechen at linebacker is just fun to watch. I hope Blechen inspires an entire generation of kids to grow mohawks and play football.
I think early on the Utah offense will go 3 and out and the defense will really need to step it up and keep them in the game.
Dyer: Defense. I would be afraid to see where the Utes would be without their defense this year.
What is the Utes' biggest perceived weakness?
Gunther: Jordan Wynn’s throwing motion. There are some times when we see the arm strength and we know he is healthy, but maybe not fully recovered from the off-season surgery. Some guys get stronger after surgery and some don’t. Wynn seems to just be fatigued right now.
Dyer: Jordan Wynn. If you just look at his stats in the box score you think, "I can live with those numbers." If you watch the game, you see that it is the receivers making spectacular plays to get those numbers. Also, there is some concern with the injury to John White. I am not sure if Utah will be able to move the ball, because we saw in the USC game that Harvey Langi was just not ready.
Who are the Utes’ playmakers and team leaders?
Gunther: DaVonte Christopher has been a great talent the entire time he has been at Utah, but he has been inconsistent. I think 11 receptions for 136 yards against USC’s defense qualifies you as a playmaker. Dres Anderson has been outstanding in practice and is another player that will be an emerging playmaker for the Utes’ offense.
Dyer: Jordan Wynn has the C on his jersey as the captain, but I think the receivers are the ones pushing the offense. Defensively, Brian Blechen and Chaz Walker are always out there encouraging their teammates.
What are the keys to the game for Utah to be successful?
Gunther: John White can’t get injured. We saw how White going out changed the game against USC. Defense needs to lean on the BYU offensive line that has not lived up to the preseason hype. BYU’s line does really well in the beginning but fades as the game goes on. The defense also needs to not get discouraged, because Heaps and Apo will score on them early. If the Utes can just keep after it they should be fine because the offensive line at BYU isn’t as good in the second half, and we have seen that twice now.
Dyer: Utah needs to do the little things right, limiting mistakes and penalties. I think if they can run the ball effectively they can be successful.
Who do you think wins and give us a score?
Gunther: I think this game will be close, and I will never pick a blowout in the rivalry game. I think Utah has better offensive and defensive lines, so I will say 24-21 Utah. I will also predict that six BYU fans will have beer poured on them by obnoxious Ute fans.
Dyer: Before game 1, I had BYU winning this game 24-17. But the Ute defense has proven to be very opportunistic. I will take Utah 24-21.
Who do you think will be the game MVP?
Gunther: Ryan Lacy, the Utah corner. I could see him baiting Heaps into giving up a pick later in the game just when Utah needs it.
Dyer: It has to be someone from the defense. I think from what we have seen I would go with Brian Blechen. Look for him to be flying around causing mayhem and forcing turnovers, something that might make the difference in a close game.
Anything else BYU fans should know?
Gunther: We want to invite all the fans to the Red and Blue Rivalry Classic at Jordan High School on Tuesday, Sept. 13, at 7 p.m. This is a flag football game between former Ute and Cougar greats, and all the proceeds go The Road Home. Ironically, every year the team that wins the charity game has their team lose on Saturday, so look for my team to throw the game this year.
Dyer: If I am a BYU fan, I worry that in the last two rivalry games Utah has been able to put up big numbers in the fourth quarter, and that seems like that can be an issue for BYU this year.
Charles Kano is a senior writer for truebluecougars.com, a Deseret News partner. He is an avid sports fan with a particular interest in high school and college athletics.
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