Utah-BYU football rivalry still burning hot despite Utes win streak

Saturday , September 09, 2017 - 12:00 AM

KAREEM COPELAND, Associated Press

PROVO — Darren Carrington is new to the Utah-BYU rivalry but the Oregon transfer has picked up the nuances fairly quickly.

The senior receiver remembers the criticism after he signed with Utah following his dismissal from the Ducks program for an arrest on a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence.

“They’ve been hating on me and saying some things that I’ve been peeping in the media,” Carrington said. “More power to them, but yeah, we’re coming. They’ve definitely added more fuel to my fire. This is my team. If (my teammates) hate them, I hate them too.”

Utah (1-0) has won six straight against BYU (1-1) and 15 of the last 18. The rivalry has always featured close ties between programs separated by less than 50 miles, but things have taken on a different feel since Kalani Sitake was hired to lead the Cougars last year.

Sitake played at BYU, but spent 10 seasons coaching at Utah under Kyle Whittingham, including six as defensive coordinator, and the two are close friends. Whittingham and two Utes assistant coaches played at BYU while two BYU assistants, including defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki, coached at Utah. Utes receivers coach Guy Holliday held the same position at BYU before Sitake brought in his staff.

“If I had to fight my brother at the end of this week, we’d shake hands at the beginning and then we’d get down,” Tuiaki said. “After that, we’d hug. None of that bothers me.”

The matchup comes at a good time for BYU after being shut out 27-0 by No. 12 LSU last week.

BYU quarterback Tanner Mangum said there wasn’t time to dwell on the loss and Utah always elicits a high level of energy. Nine of the last 11 games between the two programs have been decided by a single score.

“We don’t have time to feel sorry for ourselves,” Mangum said.

Most coaches and players tried not to add fuel to the fire this week for a game that already elicits strong emotions.

Utah safety Chase Hansen quickly clarified himself while using a little brother-big brother analogy to avoid any disrespect.

But Sitake and Whittingham acknowledged this is not just another game on the schedule. Bragging rights for a rivalry that began in 1896 remain on the line.

“Like coach Whitt said, ‘We don’t lose to those people down South,‘” Utah quarterback Tyler Huntley said.

Other things to watch when BYU hosts Utah:

UGLY O: Sitake said there will be changes after the Cougars offense sputtered through the first two weeks. BYU was held to negative-5 yards rushing and 102 passing yards last week and never crossed midfield. BYU’s Mangum has completed 54.9 percent of his passes and the team has just 19 first downs in two games.

CARRINGTON CARRYING: Carrington made his Utah debut last week with 10 catches, 127 yards and a touchdown. The receptions were the most by a Utah receiver in a single game in the last two seasons and the yardage eclipsed any individual single-game output from 2016. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound receiver will be a major factor in Utah’s new spread offense throughout the season. BYU starting cornerbacks Dayan Ghanwoloku and Troy Warner will be tested.

TRENCH WARFARE: The Utah offensive line was not at its best in the Utes’ season-opening win as it continues to gel after replacing four starters. It will be challenged by a BYU defensive line led by Sione Takitaki. The junior defensive end leads the team in sacks (2.0) and tackles for loss (4.0) and is tied for No. 2 with 12 tackles.

GAY FOR 3: Utah senior Matt Gay won the placekicking job in Week 1 after going three for three on field goals. Utah coaches hadn’t decided on a kicker after fall camp and gave freshman Chayden Johnston the first opportunity and he missed from 45 yards out. Gay came in and connected from 49, 33 and 32 yards to earn the starting job.

MIXED BAG: Huntley is making his second career start after totaling 297 yards of total offense and three touchdowns. ... BYU starting safety Micah Hannemann will miss the first half after being flagged for targeting last week. ... Utah was flagged 11 times for 135 yards in the season opener.

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