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AUSTIN FACER: What I saw from a bird’s eye view at BYU’s win over Utah

PROVO – I was surprised. I really was.

I did not expect what happened at LaVell Edwards Stadium on Saturday. Utah’s 9-game winning streak over BYU was snapped with a 26-17 victory by the Cougars.

BYU came out energized, Utah was flat for way too long, and by the time the game ended, minutes before the Sabbath began at midnight, the fans were on the field celebrating the upset (suggesting perhaps that the real winner of the night was the Delta variant as any thought of social distancing in the midst of an ongoing pandemic was thrown out the window).

Here are my thoughts and observations from the game – if you want a game story, go to any of the other publications likely writing almost the exact same thing as everyone else.

BYU came out juiced

Maybe it was because all of the Cougar faithful had read the article I wrote for ABC4.com which outlined how much the world had changed since BYU last won in 2009. Maybe it was because they got to stay up way later on a Saturday night than they usually do. Maybe it was because Dennis Pitta was signing autographs in the pregame tailgate section, who knows?

Whatever the reason, BYU came out juiced. The stadium and the players were absolutely fired up to be playing Utah on Saturday. The Utes, on the other hand, appeared to be a little more stoic through warmups and even through the first half.

I didn’t sense that to be a real issue before the game began, even though I thought it was noticeable. I’ve seen an excited team absolutely get crushed, quickly. When Utah played TCU in 2010, Rice Eccles Stadium was absolutely rocking. The Utes were ranked fourth, TCU was sixth, ESPN College Gameday was in town, and the energy in the building gave teenage Austin the impression that it would be a special night.

TCU proceeded to drum the Utes, 47-7.

I was expecting Utah to pull a 2010 TCU and immediately suck all the air out of the building right from the get-go. That didn’t happen.

Best media pregame meal in the state

If you ever get the opportunity to cover a BYU football, don’t think about it, don’t worry about whatever else you had planned to do that night (trust me, that date you had been looking forward to all week wasn’t going to go nearly as well as you were hoping), don’t worry about not knowing how to cover a sporting event, just do it. Being in the press box at a BYU football game is fantastic for no reason other than the fact that the food spread is absolutely elite.

For each home game, the BYU media relations department books the Brazilian grill, Tucanos, to serve up some delicious food to the grubby, disgusting media. We don’t deserve it at all, which makes it taste that much better.

Most places serve a pregame meal to the media, but that doesn’t mean all teams provide the same quality of experience, both in taste or in presentation. In case you were at all curious what the power rankings of pregame meals are, I will list them in order of best to worst right now:

  1. BYU athletics
  2. Ogden Raptors (Yes, really. I’m not kidding)
  3. Utah Jazz (Used to be a lot better)
  4. Salt Lake Bees
  5. Weber State athletics (Usually always pizza or Chik-Fil-A)

Not sure, never had a meal at one of their games: UVU, SUU, Dixie State, Utah State, Utah Grizzlies

DEAD LAST: Real Salt Lake (Feels like leftovers from whatever was in the club section the game before, but hey, at least you can wash it down with room temperature bottles of water.)

Thank you, BYU football. I will happily cover a game there any night of the year for the food alone.

BYU recognizes Ty Jordan with classy gesture

I’ll say this, a lot of what BYU does at football games is really top-notch. I think from a presentation standpoint, BYU might put on the best football game “experience” product in the state.

The Cougars took the field for their first home game of the season with tons of fanfare. A slickly-produced hype video preceded the players running through a giant ‘Y’ made on the field, with the band and cheerleaders lining the way from the south end zone to the 50-yard line. There were fireworks and fire effects, it was pretty cool.

One BYU player, I don’t remember who, ran out with his teammates carrying a ‘Long Live Ty Jordan’ flag. He headed to the tunnel area to find a Utah player to give it to with not much success at first. After a while, Utah’s backup QB Cam Rising accepted the flag, giving the Cougar a bro hug as well. Aaron Lowe, wearing Jordan’s No. 22, then took control of the flag.

It was a really nice gesture of BYU to acknowledge Jordan. A bit awkward with the handoff – seemed like someone forgot to tell Utah about it – but the thought and action were both very classy.

Weber State delivers clever tweet

As some few knew and others maybe had heard and decided not to care, there was actually another in-state matchup on Saturday night.

A few hundred miles to the south, Weber State headed down to St. George to take on Dixie State. If you already knew that and were more invested in that matchup than the one in Provo, chances are you don’t care much for our sparse coverage of the Wildcats and the Trailblazers. We are very sorry. We’ll get better at that.

Anyways, while the action slowly began at LaVell Edwards Stadium, whoever was in charge of Weber State’s Twitter account took advantage of the Wildcats’ first score of the game with a well-placed, funny, and perhaps even self-aware joke to accompany the graphic.

Well played, Weber State. By the way, Weber State won 41-3, so not well played at all, Dixie State.

Press box fashion show

As far as I am aware, there are no dress code protocols in the press box. You can wear whatever you want. There are, however, some unwritten rules or norms to be followed at all costs for fear of judgment or gossipy chatter from other media members.

One of those unwritten rules is to not wear the logo of either school or team that is playing. It’s really usually a bad idea to wear the colors of either team. The idea is to at least pretend to be an impartial, objective reporter here to do a professional job.

Some, however, chose not to follow this unspoken code. For example, one prominent Provo-based radio host, who I will not name, usually wears either a BYU basketball jersey or some kind of offensively blue jacket with Ys and Cosmos all over it. I didn’t get a chance to see what he wore on Saturday night, I didn’t care enough to look.

One reporter on the Utah side of the press box – yes, they segregated us – wore a drum and feather-branded polo, jacket, and hat. Not a great look, but he’s a young pup in the biz, and probably wasn’t getting paid at all to be there, so I’ll withhold the full wrath of my judgment.

The big story of the night from the press box runway was Salt Lake Tribune columnist Gordon Monson absolutely owning the sneaker scene among the media. Monson showed in a pair of Jordan 3 Fire Reds that put everyone else’s shoe game to shame. Radio host/retired ass-kicker Sean O’Connell, who usually brings some strong footwear anywhere he goes – I think Nike Air Max 90s are his favorite – didn’t even try by donning a simple pair of Converse All-Stars. Combined with his severely sun-faded hat, jeans, and a Jimmy Buffett t-shirt, Monson absolutely crushed his fit. We were all witnesses.

A lot of people go to college for 7 years

I realized about at about halftime that Saturday’s game would be a milestone of sorts for one Utah player, wide receiver/punt returner/8th-year junior, Britain Covey.

It seems like Covey, a former All-State quarterback at Timpview High School, has been at Utah since the beginning of time, you’re not too far off. Covey first donned the crimson and white – something that was a huge recruiting victory by Kyle Whittingham at the time – back in 2015. You might remember after earning freshman All-American honors, took a two-year break to serve an LDS mission in Chile. He took a redshirt year after an injury partway through the 2019 season and after not losing a year of eligibility in 2020 thanks to the pandemic, will still have another year to play after 2021.

Some feel that Covey, who has already graduated and will likely have a job at his family’s consulting empire waiting for him, may call it a career after this season. Regardless of whether or not fans will see Covey on the field in 2022, the pride of Timpview won’t ever play another game in Provo, that’s for sure.

In his Utah County swansong, Covey had one catch for six yards to go along with one punt return for 35 yards.

And a loss.

Kalani picks off Brewer, Ah You follows

In a humorous moment in the first quarter, Utah quarterback Charlie Brewer threw the ball away into the BYU sidelines, where it was caught by Cougar head coach Kalani Sitake. Perhaps sensing the cameras on him, Sitake took advantage of the moment with the pigskin, by tucking it under his arm and feigning a step or two towards the endzone.

Two plays later, Brewer’s pass found another member of the opposing team, linebacker Chaz Ah You, who unfortunately for the Utes, was inside the sidelines and eligible to cause a turnover.

Two passes caught by BYU in the same set of downs was not an ideal start to the game for Brewer.

Parting shots

After Utah running back Micah Bernard rumbled into the endzone for a 22-yard score, I was expecting to look like a genius in the best way possible.

Those of you who listened to our podcast this week with Jake Hatch and Alex Lundberg will recall that I predicted that Utah would roll over the Cougars, scoring a defensive touchdown along the way.

With the score 23-17 with 9:31 to go after Bernard’s score, I doubled down on my prediction with this tweet:

With visions of a moment of glory in football soothsaying in my head, I intently watched the following BYU possession from the edge of my cushioned seat.

Would Utah manage to punch the ball out or grab an interception and take it to the house to snatch the lead and steal the victory?

Would I be vindicated at the last moment?

Do I have a gift from God?

No.

BYU went the length of the field, eating up over six minutes of clock on a drive that was capped by a 21-yard field goal to essentially put the game out of reach.

Cougars win. Austin was wrong. Ding, dong, the streak is dead.

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