admin | Posted: 19 Nov 2018 | Updated: 8 Nov 2020

BYU meets Utah in Deseret First Duel on Saturday

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PROVO, Utah – BYU football meets No. 17 Utah in the Deseret First Duel on Saturday at 8:00 MST at Rice-Eccles Stadium for the final regular season game. The game will be televised on Fox Sports 1. 

Live radio coverage can be found on the BYU Sports Network two hours prior to kickoff with Greg Wrubell, which will be broadcast on BYU Radio Sirius XM 143/89.1 FM HD2, KSL 1160 AM/102.7 FM,, and on the BYU Cougars app, BYU Radio app and KSL app.  

BYUtv will provide pregame and postgame coverage with Countdown to Kickoff starting 7 p.m. MST. Postgame coverage runs for half an hour or more after the game depending on the timing of the game.

BYU (6-5) vs. Utah (8-3)
Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018
Kickoff: 8:00 p.m. MST
Salt Lake City, Utah
Rice-Eccles Stadium (45,017)

BYU Game Notes
Utah Game Notes

THE SERIES. BYU and Utah are meeting for the 93rd time in the history of the two programs. The Cougars trail in the Deseret First Duel 31-57-4. Utah is on a seven-game winning streak, the second longest for either team in the rivalry. BYU won nine games in a row from 1979-1987. Since 2005, 10 of the 12 matchups have been decided by one score, including last year's 19-13 loss to the Utes in Provo. The Cougars' last win in Salt Lake City was in 2006, when quarterback John Beck found tight end Jonny Harline in the end zone on the final play of the game for a 33-31 victory.

WE ARE ALL COUGARS. Both head coaches in the matchup are BYU graduates and former players at BYU. Head coach Kalani Sitake was a fullback for the Cougars from 1994, 1997-2000 while Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham was a linebacker from 1978-1981. Whittingham was an all-WAC and WAC Defensive Player of the Year in 1981 at BYU. Utah linebackers coach Justin Ena and tight ends coach Freddie Whittingham also played football at BYU. Guy Holliday, Utah wide receivers coach, held the same position at BYU prior to heading up north.

COACHING TREE. Kyle Whittingham's coaching tree includes Kalani Sitake. Sitake worked for Whittingham for 10 seasons at the University of Utah. Sitake started as a linebackers coach for Whittingham in 2005. In 2009, Sitake was promoted to defensive coordinator and in 2012 as assistant head coach. Sitake is also connected to Gary Andersen, Utah's associate head coach. When Andersen was the head coach at Southern Utah, Sitake worked for him as the running backs and tight ends coach. Sitake also went with Andersen to Oregon State in 2015 as his assistant head coach and defensive coordinator. Sitake credits Whittingham and Andersen, along with Hall of Fame BYU coach LaVell Edwards as three of his biggest coaching mentors.

YOUNG GUNS. BYU has played 26 freshmen this season, including 17 true freshmen. There have been 11 different freshmen that have started games for the Cougars, including five true freshmen. Against Hawai'i, BYU started seven freshmen, including six on offense. Only Minnesota had started more freshmen on offense in a game (7). Freshmen have accounted for more than half of BYU's total scoring this year (149 of 278 total points – 53.6 percent).

The following are quotes from Monday's media availability.

Head coach Kalani Sitake
On close games against Utah
It’s really competitive. I think there are a lot of people that really care about it – we definitely do. This is an important game to me, an important game to our coaches, an important game to the administration and the fans. Our players are really excited for it. We love the way we’re feeling right now and building some momentum, so I’m excited for this game and to go up to Rice-Eccles and have a great one Saturday night.

On importance of starting strong
That’s something we’re addressing. We want to make sure that everything is ready to go and that we give everything we have for all 60 minutes and if possible more. We are always working constantly to try and get the perfect game and it will be a good opportunity to start fast and finish strong. I think it will be a good time for us to play a complete game and maybe our best game of the year. It’s a really important game for us and we’re approaching it that way. We’ll prepare this week with the same mindset and do whatever it takes to get a win.

On emotions of the rivalry
I’ve been a fan in this rivalry, I’ve played in it. I played against my older brother who was at Utah when I was here at BYU. I’ve coached in it, on both sides, and so I think there’s a lot of experience that comes into playing and handling the emotions. It’s not just another game, it’s the most important game of our season right now. That’s our approach and it adds a lot of expectations, puts a lot of pressure of our players, but I’m ok with it.

On drawing on coaching experience from Utah
I know Coach Whittingham personally, but football is still football and it comes down to the players. I think he’ll say the same thing. I don’t if there’s a scheme out there that football coaches don’t know and aren’t familiar with. We’re familiar with each other but other than that the players don’t have the history that we have. They have to go out, play the game and execute. This is going to come down to those guys. We’re familiar with each other as coaches, but we’re not the ones playing. There’s a lot of great coaches on that staff that I know and I feel like we have great coaches on our staff. They’re just as familiar with us. We’re all good friends, but we’re going to go have a great game and see what happens. We all want to win.

Wide receiver Micah Simon
On how important the rivalry game is to the team
It’s very important. It’s the most important game of the year. To us, to the coaches. The fans know it too. We’re going to prepare super hard this week and be ready to go Saturday night.

On being introduced to the rivalry when coming to Utah
It was probably the Vegas bowl when it really hit me. It was my first bowl game and just seeing the fans from both sides there and the type of game it was. We got down early but just anything can happen in rivalry games and we came back and we were right there. You know, it’s a great rivalry and I’m glad to be a part of it.

On Utah’s defense
Yeah, great defense. They want to be tough in every position. They want to be physical in every position so we’ll have to match that and bring more intensity, more passion to it and use our strengths as well against them. We’re a physical team as well. We’ll use our speed. We’ll attack them from different areas and we’ll be ready to go.

On Zach Wilson leading the offense in this game
I’m excited for Zach. He’s gotten better each week. He’s made mistakes but that’s how it is in the game of football. He’s learned from the mistakes and he’s continued to prepare and continued to put himself in a position to make plays. I’m excited for him. I’m confident in him to lead us. It’s good to see him stayed relaxed in the course of a game through the ups and downs. They’ll be ups and downs this week as well and it’s been great to see how he’s responded.

Offensive lineman Austin Hoyt
On getting ready for this week against Utah
We’re all excited for the challenge. We’ll be focusing on the physicality this week and getting ready for their front. From what I’ve talked about so far with the rest of the offensive linemen, we’re excited to prepare for this weekend.

On the rivalry even though he grew up in California
I grew up watching the BYU vs. Utah games. My dad was a big believer in the rivalry. Of course we still respect Utah and I think they’re a great school, but that rivalry has just been a part of me since I was little.

On getting the pass game going
I think that’s really important. The first key is giving Zach time to have vision down the field and find the guys who are open. With pass protection we have to start out with making sure the protection is right between us and the quarterback so he doesn’t have to scramble and make a crazy pass on the run. 

On Zach handling this game
I think he’ll do well. Watching him play in the Boise State game, for the most part, he was able to handle the noise and pressure from that game really well. It’ll be similar at the Utah game as well. He’ll do great handling the environment and everything that goes along with that.

Defensive back Austin Lee
On playing against his old teammates
It’s going to be different just because I’ve practiced with all of them and I know quite a bit of them. So it’s going to be different. It’s going to be fun. It’s a big rivalry game and we’ve just got to come out. We’ve got to prepare. We’ve got to execute Monday through Friday and then hopefully Saturday we can execute and perform to the best of our ability and come out fast. I think it’ll be really fun playing guys that I’ve practiced with and being on the competitive side of the game.

On how BYU matches up with Utah
I think it’s a good match up. Utah is very physical. They’re a physical team and that’s what they teach and that’s the identity that we try to create as well. We like being physical and we like being relentless to the ball. I think they have a lot of that in them as well and so as of right now, we’re just trying to get the right scheme, trust our coaches and then perform well. I think we match up well.

On the importance of turnovers in the rivalry game
I think there’s always an emphasis about getting the ball out and trying to create those turnovers, especially as a defense. In a rivalry game when emotions are higher, it might be a little more found. When things are flying around you’ve got to go get the ball. We’ve got to be in a plus one or a plus two in those turnover margins.

On his family being Utah fans
They’re very supportive of me personally and my goals and my ambitions and what’s best for me as an individual. Once they saw what would be a better fit for me, they approved. I think it’s a little different turning the red into the blue for them but they were excited for me as an individual.  

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