This will be the last shot for Kyle Van Noy to beat Utah. In the past BYU has dominated the rivalry, but as of late Utah has had BYU's number for a number of reasons. Van Noy is focused in his approach as BYU gets set to host the Utah Utes this Saturday.
"For me, I've never been someone to be a cheerleader or go around and be the hoorah guy," said Van Noy. "I'm always focused on my assignment and what my job responsibility is, and then I get to have fun. At the end of the day it's just a game and I get to have fun. You know, it's a rivalry game and [there’s] more exposure, more hype to it, so you just have to have fun. You can't get nervous about the game and [should] just have fun."
Against Texas, the Cougars played loose on both sides of the ball. The emotions of the game were kept in check despite the fact Texas was coming to town. In a rivalry game, the team that is able to best keep its emotions in check and play disciplined football often becomes the victor.
"I think it's key," Van Noy said. "I think everybody was having fun [against Texas] and was not too overly stressed out. Everyone knew going in they had a great practice that week and it was intense and felt like it was pretty easy. They were in shape and guys were flying around making plays and having fun."
When the Cougars put up 679 yards against Texas, the offense came out gunning quickly while the defense held the Longhorns to many three-and-outs. Van Noy feels BYU has to come out firing on all cylinders early again against Utah.
"I think we need to come out fast too," Van Noy said. "I think that was a big key for us was that we came out fast on all sides of the ball from offense to defense to special teams."
Turnover ratios have played a big role in BYU's losses to Utah over the years. It’s something Coach Mendenhall brought up with the team.
"I think it's huge," Van Noy said. "It shows that it's been a big factor in the last couple of games going over statistics, and it's probably going to be a big role this game. I don't see it changing much, so we've been practicing a lot on turnovers in practice. I think [Utah] will be practicing the same thing because they have the same stats as we do."
Van Noy has familiarized himself with a few key Utah offensive players he feels are pretty good and that the defense will have to account for.
"They bring a lot of different things to the table," Van Noy said. "They have a pretty good quarterback. They have a good wide receiver in [Des Anderson] and [as for] their running game, I'm not really sure if [Kelvin York] is playing or not. I don't know what his injury report is, but I know [James Poole] is a good running back. And [Jake Murphy], their tight end that's a receiver, is really good as well, so they have some good players on offense. They're going to try and spread you out and go for the big play I think in my opinion. I think they'll also want to get their ground game going and get [Poole] rolling."
In contrasting the different styles of play, Van Noy pointed out some difference between BYU’s and Utah's offensive approaches.
"I think Utah's offense, for me, spreads it out a little more," said Van Noy. "A lot of deep field throws, a lot of deep crossers, and then they mix that with the screen game and the little quick game. Then our offense kind of goes from short to deep, so it's kind of vice versa I would say."
At 6 feet 7 inches and 240 pounds, Utah quarterback Travis Wilson might be tall, but he is also a very mobile quarterback who can hurt defenses with his legs. BYU's defense knows all about mobile quarterbacks, having one of the fastest in college football in Taysom Hill.
"I think they have a good quarterback and a good system over there," said Van Noy. "I think going against Taysom in practice is good for us, but at the same time they kind of run a different style of offense, so you have to prepare different.
"We have a good scout team quarterback that's giving us a good look. He's pretty fast and doing a good job of being like Wilson I guess."
On Monday Van Noy was asked whether he thinks about past losses to Utah.
"No, not necessarily," he said. "I mean, I would be lying to you if I didn't think about it, but I don't wake up thinking, 'Oh, I lost to Utah’ every day, then sit here and weigh that. But yeah, I'm a competitor and I don't like losing. I'm 0-3 and I want to be 1-3, and that's better than being 0-4."
While BYU dismantled Texas 40-21 prior to the bye week, Utah is coming off a 51-48 overtime loss to Oregon State at home. The Cougars hope to win again at home and send seniors like Van Noy out with a rivalry victory.
"It's important for us, and I've talked to Kyle about that," said Taysom Hill. "We've had our conversations and we're going to prepare as best we can to do our best against Utah. Like I said, it's a rivalry game, so we're going to have to match and play harder than them. I'm confident if we can do that, we'll be successful for our seniors on Saturday."