Football: Utes and Cougs Set to Battle in Holy War

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Football: Utes and Cougs Set to Battle in Holy War

By Brittni Meservy

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Looking to improve its rivalry record with a seven-game winning streak, the University of Utah football team (1-0) will take on BYU (1-1), which have remained winless since 2009, on Saturday, Sept. 9 at 8:15 p.m. MT in Provo. The Utes come into the Holy War with their season opener victory against North Dakota under their belt. On the other side, the Cougars also won their season opener against Portland State before being taken down by LSU.

Utah’s first game of the year featured a new starting quarterback in Tyler Huntley and two new kickers, senior Matt Gay (3-for-3 in field goals and 4-of-4 in PAT’s) and freshman Chayden Johnston, who didn’t get off to a solid start on the season, as he missed the first field goal of the night from 45 yards.

Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham was pleased with what he saw from Huntley, applauding his decision-making and ability to extend plays on the field as being a part of the reason why he earned the starting role.

“I believe he’s going to get better and better as the season wears on,” Whittingham said. “As soon as he gets more comfortable and more settled in and situated to the position, I think it’s going to be a very positive production for his output.”

Jumping from Utah quarterback to BYU quarterback, it was a struggle for Tanner Mangum and his Cougars against the Tigers on the road. The end results reflected a talented LSU team that has a solid defense and a BYU team that had its run game shut down and wasn’t able to get into a rhythm of any kind the entire night, finishing with 97 total yards.

Utah defensive tackle Filipo Mokofisi said he expects to see a different BYU team come out ready to compete on Saturday evening because what he saw against LSU, he didn’t feel was “the real BYU.” He expects to see a higher level of passion, energy and execution brought forth by the Cougars. Whittingham, on the other hand, believes it’s a challenge to gauge where teams stand this early on because the season is still young. Nonetheless, he is making sure his team is ready to go against whichever BYU team takes the field.

“Like every team in the country, nobody really knows exactly what you got yet,” Whittingham said. “There’s not a lot of knowledge of what kind of team you are. It’s going to take several more weeks before I think people get perspective on the season and the different teams.”

A rivalry game or not, Huntley said “a game is a game” and losing isn’t an option so he is planning to lead his team to a win with an offense that he believes will cause trouble for the Cougars.

“We gonna be able to run the ball and we gonna to be able to pass the ball,” Huntley said. “That just is what our offense is built for, and we gonna put up points.”

Bragging rights will be crowned Saturday evening at LaVell Edwards Stadium as the reigning Holy War victors look to push its win streak, and BYU looks to make itself heard and turn its losing streak around to get momentum under its feet.

“This game, it’s its own entity,” Whittingham said. “It almost doesn’t matter what’s happened prior to this game. If you look back through the years, it’s always a battle and it’s always a hard fought close game right down to the wire, at least the majority of the time. And regardless of what’s happened in the past or whose record is what or who’s ranked, who’s not ranked, it seems to bring out the best in both teams.”

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