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Tom Smart, Deseret News
Players celebrate with fans as the University of Utah defeats Brigham Young University 54-10 as they play football Saturday, Sept. 17, 2011, in Provo, Utah.

BYU’s awful start to both halves doomed the Cougars, falling 54-10 in its home opener. Making so many mistakes stung, but it hurt even worse coming against rival Utah, which poured it on late.

OFFENSE: There were stretches when Jake Heaps and his receivers moved the ball through the air quite well, operating with more rhythm than in the previous two games. Heaps’ touchdown throw to Ross Apo was a thing of beauty, but his fourth-quarter interception was not. The running game was dismally nonexistent, and the defining statistic was no secret: 6 turnovers, leading directly to 17 points. GRADE: D-

DEFENSE: The Cougars’ stellar run defense in the first half somewhat wore down after halftime. There was little doubt the secondary would be tested, and it didn’t answer the bell. Dres Anderson and DeVonte Christopher hurt BYU, and quarterback Jordan Wynn and tight end Jake Murphy shredded the secondary on a key drive and touchdown that gave Utah the lead. John White IV was able to run free on two long scores late. Kyle Van Noy’s interception, Brandon Ogletree’s fumble (caused by Uona Kaveinga) and some jarring hits are the only things that saved them from a failing mark, and in the end, they gave up way too many big plays and points. GRADE: D-

SPECIAL TEAMS: Justin Sorensen booted a collegiate personal-best 45-yard field goal, and Riley Stephenson’s booming 65-yard punt and another one he placed inside the 10-yard line were bright spots. Kickoff coverage and Cody Hoffman's 15-yard average on returns were adequate, but J.D. Falslev’s muff off a kickoff hurt badly, setting up White’s short touchdown run. The punt coverage team also gave up a big return to Charles Henderson early in the second half. GRADE: C-

COACHING: The offensive game plan of trying to have the run set up the pass was sound, but wasn’t executed well enough. The defense was ready, coming out with physical play, but fatigue became a factor. The Cougars had to burn an early first-quarter timeout due to confusion/lack of communication between Heaps and offensive coordinator Brandon Doman. The coaches weren’t responsible for the turnovers, but they didn’t seem to adapt well to Utah’s second-half adjustments. GRADE: C

OVERALL: This will be a hard loss to get over. It hurts to drop to 1-2 on the season, especially coming at home this early in the season, and against the Utes. There are many more questions marks now than there were entering the game. GRADE: D

Chris, who has been covering sports ranging from high school preps to professional teams for almost twenty years, feels that football season is the best time of the year. He can be reached at chrispeterson7@msn.com.