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3 key players for BYU and Utah in this weekend’s rivalry game

Utah wide receiver Britain Covey (18) is tripped up by BYU defensive back Austin Kafentzis (24).
Utah wide receiver Britain Covey (18) is tripped up by BYU defensive back Austin Kafentzis (24) during the second half of the utah-BYU game at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019.
Colter Peterson, Deseret News

Here’s a few of the names you’ll need to know when BYU and Utah face each other Saturday night in the latest rivalry matchup.

The game will kick off at 8:15 p.m. MDT at LaVell Edwards Stadium and be televised on ESPN.


Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Jaren Hall (3) runs during the Vegas Kickoff Classic in Las Vegas on Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021. BYU won 24-16.
Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Jaren Hall (3) runs during the Vegas Kickoff Classic in Las Vegas on Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021. BYU won 24-16.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

BYU

Quarterback Jaren Hall

Hall passed his first test in replacing Zach Wilson. Even with a slow start, Hall completed 18 of 28 passes for 198 yards and two touchdowns while adding 36 rushing yards in the Cougars’ season-opening 24-16 win over Arizona.

Now comes a bigger challenge. How will the dual-threat Hall perform against a traditionally strong Utah defense, one that has time and again forced BYU quarterbacks into mistakes throughout this nine-game Utes win streak?

Wide receiver Samson Nacua

The Cougars have a good stable of receivers, including Samson Nacua and his brother Puka, high-profile transfers this offseason. Neither Nacua brother played on offense in the opener, though.

If Samson Nacua plays, he provides an important wealth of knowledge as someone who has won in the BYU-Utah rivalry. The former Utes receiver played three times in the rivalry for Utah and had seven receptions for 64 yards and a touchdown.

Linebacker Keenan Pili

Pili had a huge game in the opener, leading the Cougars with a career-high 17 tackles in the win over Arizona. He had 10 solo tackles and added a sack.

Pili, fellow linebacker Payton Wilgar and safety Chaz Ah You will face a huge challenge in trying to slow down the Utes’ star tight end lineup of Dalton Kincaid, Brant Kuithe, Cole Fotheringham and Thomas Yassmin. Kincaid led Utah with four catches for 75 yards and two touchdowns in its season opener against Weber State.


Utah Utes quarterback Charlie Brewer (12) is under pressure from Weber State Wildcats linebacker Conner Mortensen (11) during the season opener at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021. Weber lead 7-3 at the lightning strike delay.
Utah Utes quarterback Charlie Brewer (12) is under pressure from Weber State Wildcats linebacker Conner Mortensen (11) during the season opener at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021. Weber lead 7-3 at the lightning strike delay.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Utah

Quarterback Charlie Brewer

Brewer was as advertised in his Utah debut. The Baylor transfer looked poised and polished in the Utes’ 40-17 season-opening win over Weber State, completing 19 of 27 passes for 233 yards and two touchdowns, with an interception on a heave to end the first half.

This will be Brewer’s lone game in the rivalry, though he had plenty of big-game moments during his four years as a starter at Baylor. Now, he’ll try to add his name to a pantheon of Utah quarterbacks — guys like Tyler Huntley, Travis Wilson and Jordan Wynn, among others — who’ve bested BYU in the past decade-plus.

Cornerback Clark Phillips III

The freshman Phillips is already a leading force on a talented Utes defense that includes other big names such as Devin Lloyd and Mika Tafua. Last week, he had six tackles and a pass deflection against the Wildcats.

Now, Phillips gets his first taste of the rivalry before it takes a two-year hiatus. If he leaves early for the NFL, it may be Phillips’ only rivalry game. Question is, will he be the one to carry on the Utes’ tradition of getting a pick-6 against BYU?

Wide receiver/returner Britain Covey

Covey just continues to contribute big plays in a variety of ways for Utah: against Weber State, he had 14 rushing yards, 14 receiving yards and 39 punt return yards.

Plus, he’s had plenty of success on the right side of winning in this rivalry, having joined the Utes program in 2015. If there’s anyone you’d bet to have the big impact play on special teams come Saturday, it would be Covey.