PROVO — Much of the focus from the media this week at BYU has been on the Cougars’ listless offense, which was shut out last weekend against LSU.
BYU’s defense, meanwhile, which experienced mixed results against the Tigers, will be facing Utah's new offensive attack, featuring talented playmakers, Saturday night at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
In his first start, Ute quarterback Tyler Huntley completed 23 of 32 passes for 227 yards with one interception and one touchdown in a season-opening victory over North Dakota last week. Huntley also rushed 18 times for 70 yards and two more scores.
“I think they have a really good quarterback,” said Cougar coach Kalani Sitake. “I think that he is dangerous on the ground.”
Defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki said dealing with a dual-threat QB like Huntley will be a test.
“It’s hard. You can’t completely rush your ends and abandon everybody in the pass,” he said. “We’ve got to make sure we keep an eye on him and spy him in certain ways. It’s definitely going to be a challenge for us.”
Last week, LSU quarterback Danny Etling completed 14 of 17 passes for 173 yards against BYU.
Utah also boasts talented skill position players like running back Zach Moss, who ran for 127 yards and a touchdown last week, and wide receiver Darren Carrington, who caught 10 passes for 127 yards and a touchdown.
The Utes rolled up 499 yards of offense last week.
“The challenge this week is speed and space," Tuaiki said. "That’s what their offense is trying to do, to try to get their skill players in open spaces and make you miss tackles.”
SAME OLD STORY: Sitake, who spent a decade as an assistant coach under Kyle Whittingham at Utah, recognizes a lot of familiar concepts when he watches film of the Utes.10 comments on this story
"It’s what I’m used to seeing. I recognize a lot of things they are doing offensively and defensively,” he said. “When I was there, we focused on our depth. From what I see, they have replaced their four draft picks at O-line with really solid players. They seem to have a young backfield but those players are capable, too. That’s huge compliment to their coaching staff and their recruiting. What coach Whittingham has done and what his vision was has a lot of influence on what I want to do as a coach here. The goal here is to make sure that we have better depth and that we play better."
SEEING RED: BYU running back Squally Canada’s favorite color isn’t popular in Provo.
“My favorite color is red,” he said. “People get mad at me. ‘You need to go up to Utah with that.’ It’s neither here or there. I don’t wear it on game week. Everybody knows my car is red. They see me and they say, ‘That’s Squally.’”