Positional breakdown

Quarterbacks

John Beck has been a big improvement over last year when he was either fumbling or overthrowing every down. He still has his rough moments, such as the three terrible passes he threw in the red zone that could have won the UNLV game. He has definitely benefited from an improved receiving corps. Alex Smith continues to shoot up the Heisman chart. While he is still a long shot to win, he has

probably wrapped up a trip to the ceremony.

Edge: Utah

Running Backs

After a bad start in which he was used poorly, Curtis Brown has stepped it up. More

importantly, he has stayed healthy in a backfield with almost no depth. Fahu Tahi is a good short

yardage option. Marty Johnson had a big game versus Wyoming, getting his 13th touchdown of the season. The fanfare surrounding Johnson at the start of the season has died down, but the senior has stayed healthy and effective all year. Ganther seems to have a few big runs in him every game, and will hopefully be a great one-two punch with redshirting Mike Liti next year.

Edge: Utah

Receivers

This unit was a disaster for the Cougars last season. Following an all out recruiting blitz, BYU added some impressive talent. Todd Watkins came to Provo on a magic carpet made of rose petals, and except for a fumble late in the UNLV game, hasn’t disappointed. His speed and size is a rarity in a program known for slow possession receivers. Austin Collie has been a dogged competitor. The good news for MWC teams is that he will be out of their hair for the next two years when he goes on a mission. Paris Warren and Steve Savoy have been near clones of each other. They have basically the same number of catches and receiving yards, and both have 10 receiving touchdowns. Look for Travis LaTendresse to continue to quietly have big games.

Edge: Utah

O-Line

The fairly young Cougar line has improved as of late, but is still having a tough time opening holes for the run game. Last season’s impressive freshman Ofa Mohetau would have been a big help, but was

academically ineligible. Lance Reynolds has been a good find, switching to center after his mission. Utah’s front five is fully healthy again, and has continued to give running backs big holes and Smith plenty of pocket time.

Edge: Utah

D-Line

Shaun Nua and Nebraska transfer Manaia Brown anchor the line, combining for 10.5 sacks and 16 tackles for a loss. The Cougs have had success getting to the quarterback, and are adept at stopping the run. Utah’s starting line has only combined for 7.5 sacks, but is usually pretty good at getting the QB out of the pocket. With Sione Pouha finally 100 percent, look for BYU to have a tough time on the ground.

Edge: BYU

Linebackers

Like him or hate him, Brady Poppinga is a good player. Like most Cougars, it seems like he’s been around forever, and it’s good news that he’s finally a senior. The converted DE has six sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss. Cameron Jensen leads the team with 48 solo tackles. This will be the last home game for Ute seniors Corey Dodds and Tommy Hackenbruck. Along with Spencer Toone, the big three have transformed a pre-season question mark into one of the team’s biggest strengths.

Edge: Even

Secondary

Aaron Francisco is the all-around leader in the defensive backfield, and is probably the best player on the team. He’s anchored a unit that has been surprisingly good, especially with the corners being a big question mark coming into the season. This could be another dangerous game for the Ute CBs, with Watkins creating nasty match-up problems for whomever he is assigned to. If Ryan Smith comes up with another big game, he should be a shoe-in for All-Conference honors.

Edge: Even

Special Teams

It’s hard to hate on Matt Payne, even after his three misses versus New Mexico. For some reason, he is at his best from more than 50 yards. He should make the NFL as a punter, and his linebacker build can pack a nasty punch to unsuspecting kickoff returners. David Carroll hasn’t missed a kick yet and his kickoffs have been improving.

Edge: BYU

Coaching

Should the Cougars lose, Gary Crowton will have seen three straight losing seasons go by on his watch. That will probably end his coaching reign in Provo, especially amid the off-season Honor Code turmoil. Urban Meyer will need to continue to keep the troops focused with all the din surrounding his possible departure. So far it hasn’t even been close to a distraction, with Utah blowing away everyone.

Edge: Utah

Gary CrowtonCougar Head Coach

This could be it for ol’ Gary. After a 12-0 start to his Cougar coaching career, Crowton has gone 13-22 since. Cougar fans are angry at the close losses, the discipline issues, the honor code violations and the fact that he isn’t Lavell Edwards. A win at Utah would probably save his job, as it would give BYU a bowl berth after a season with a brutal non-conference schedule.

1 Todd Watkins WR 2 Bryce Mahuika RB 3 Naufahu Tahi RB 4 B.J. Mathis KR 5 Brett Cooper DB 6 Curtis Brown RB 7 Jason Beck QB 8 Matt Berry QB 9 Austin Collie WR 10 Matt Allen WR 11 Eric Watterson RB 12 John Beck QB 13 Nathan Soelberg DB 14 Antwaun Harris WR 15 Jason Kukahiko WR 16 Greg Lovely DB 17 Jackson Brown QB 18 Ray Hudson RB 19 Karland Bennett DB 20 Daniel Coats TE 21 David Tafuna DB 22 Micah Alba CB 23 O’Neil Howell CB 24 Spencer White DB 25 Quinn Gooch DB 26 Rodney Wilkerson WR 27 Ibrahim Rashada DB 28 Dustin Gabriel DB 29 Chris Hale WR 30 Billy Skinner DB 31 Nathan Meikle RB 32 Adam Nelson DB 33 Aaron Francisco S34 Brandon Heaney CB 35 Cameron Jensen LB 36 Markell Staffieri LB 37 Jon Burbidge S 38 Matt Payne P/K 38 Trent Williams K 41 Justin Luettgerodt LB 42 Grant Nelson LB 43 Kayle Buchanan DB 44 Moa Peaua FB 45 Judd Anderton DL 46 Michael Marquardt DL 47 Richard Nehring LB 48 T.J. Sitake DL 49 Brady Poppinga LB 50 Kyle Tew LB 51 Justin Williams LB 52 Matt Bauman LB 53 Gary Lovely LB 53 E.J. Caffaro LB 54 Lance Reynolds OL 55 Dan Bates LB . 56 Shaun Nua DL 57 Hanale Vincent OL 58 William Turner LB 58 Matt Ah You LB 59 Eddie Keele OL 60 Scott Tidwell OL 61 Junior Kato OL 64 Ray Feinga OL 65 R.J. Willing OL 66 Nate Hall OL 67 Gary McGiven OL 68 Jo Cozzens OL 70 Hala Paongo DE 72 Nick Alletto OL 73 Jake Kuresa OL 74 Nick Longshore OL 75 Scott Young OL 76 Travis Bright OL 77 Daniel Marquardt DL 78 Brian Sanders OL 80 Riley Weber WR 82 Ryan Beck CB 83 Saia Hafoka WR 84 Michael Reed WR 85 Zac Collie WR 87 Matthew Smith WR 88 Dennis Pitta TE 90 Jonny Harline TE 91 Travis Epperson K 92 John Denney DL 93 Jared McLaughlin P 94 Vince Feula DL 95 Isley Filiaga DL 96 Jeremy Gillespie TE 97 Justin Carlson-Maddux DL 98 Sosiua Sekona LB 99 Manaia Brown DL

Urban MeyerUte Head Coach

Among the countless things Meyer has done to endear himself to Utah fans, one of the biggest is his seemingly sincere hatred of the Team Down South. Even though he is civil to Crowton, they definitely don’t share the buddy-buddy relationship held by Edwards and Ron McBride. While it irks Coug fans to no end that he won’t refer to their school by name, it fills Ute fans with glee to see the Y supporters turn red.

1 Johnson, Marty RB2 Young, Antonio DB3 Fletcher, Gerald DB3 Johnson, Brian QB4 Wright, Jerome WR5 Warren, Paris WR6 Savoy, Steve WR7 Borreson, Bryan K8 Casteel, Brent RB9 Toone, Spencer LB9 Au, Brigham QB10 Gordon, Stephen DB10 Walker, Justin WR11 Smith, Alex QB11 Casco, Kawika DB12 Punimata, Nuuese DB13 Ganther, Quinton RB14 Brady, Kyle WR14 Madsen, Adam QB15 Rawlings, Brent P15 Poston, Darryl RB16 Oates, Eugene DB16 Nielson, Brady DB17 Sokugawa, Chris QB17 Tagovailoa, Fano QB18 Jacobsen, Chad TE19 Kovacevich, Matt Punter20 Liti, Mike RB21 Harper, Shaun DB22 Nagahi, Bo DB23 Madsen, John WR23 Rockwell, Zach DB24 Harris, Tim DB25 Scalley, Morgan DB26 McEntire, Curtis K26 Stowers, Ray RB27 Unutoa, Dymond DB28 Tate, Steve DB29 Smith, Ryan DB30 Ross, Adarrious DB30 Mokofisi, Malakai DB31 Evans, Casey DB32 Weddle, Eric DB33 Garrigan, Afa DB33 TeGantvoort, Charlie DB34 Iloa, Singa RB35 Mason, Matt DB36 Marold, Zac DB36 Kinsey, Billy RB37 Olevao, Loma LB38 Beck, John LB39 Clark, Jon TE40 Hackenbruck, Tommy LB41 Marshall, Grady LB42 Jiannoni, Joe LB43 Johnson, Joe RB44 Moleni, Pate DE45 Puccinelli, Alex DE46 O’Connell, Sean LB46 Hansen, Justin TE47 Burdette, Blake TE48 Burnett, Martail DE49 Richards, Derrek WR49 Johnson, Brock DB50 Condie, Brock LS51 Preobrazhensky, Dmitry LB53 Williams, Reza DE54 Miller, Taylor LB55 Johnson, Andrew OL55 Ledbetter, Marquess DL56 Sampson, Colt LB57 Beardall, Dan K/P58 Parkhurst, Brady LS59 Carroll, David K60 Apted, Terrence DL61 Tassainer, Jess LB62 Rowley, Butchie LS63 Gunther, Kyle OL65 Hatch, Jeff OL66 Conley, Robert OL67 Paullin, Blake LB68 Kemoeatu, Chris OL69 Boone, Jason OL70 Aalona, Makai OL71 Arquette, Mitch OL72 Voss, Jason OL73 Dahl, Steve OL74 Dirkmaat, David OT75 Pettit, Eric OL76 Soliai, Paul OL78 Tupola, Tavo OL79 Boone, Jesse OL80 Kruger, Paul DL81 Clifford, Brad WR82 Peel, John WR83 Johnson, Jordan WR84 Huff, Thomas WR85 Gueck, Rob WR86 Sorenson, Cody WR87 Moss, Trevor WR88 LaTendresse, Travis WR89 Sonntag, Nik DE90 Pouha, Sione DL91 Fanene, Jonathan DL92 Castaldi, Tony DL93 Dodds, Corey LB94 Fifita, Steve DL96 Kemoeatu, Tevita DL97 Sao, Willie TE98 Talavou, Kelly DL99 Scanlon, Bryce DL99 Afeaki, Kite DL