PROVO — Friday’s BYU football practice was the second day the Cougars have focused on UConn, their opponent in the season opener in East Hartford, Connecticut. With the game against the Huskies one week from tonight, the players and coaches felt good about how seamlessly the team has slipped into game prep mode.
“We’re ready; I can for sure say that,” receiver Mitch Mathews said emphatically. “(Our) bodies are beat up, but that comes with every team in the country. But we’re focused on redeeming ourselves from the opening game last year.”
While last year’s season-opening loss at Virginia is something BYU is trying not to duplicate, the players, and specifically quarterback Taysom, believe that they have made huge strides since then.
BYU on Wednesday announced another Pac-12 football scheduling agreement, this time with the University of Washington. The teams will meet at Husky Stadium in Seattle on Sept. 29, 2018, with the second game of the series scheduled for LaVell Edwards Stadium on Sept. 21, 2019.
The deal brings to nine the number of Pac-12 teams on future BYU schedules, accounting for 22 games in total, from 2014 through 2025.
With the season opener at Connecticut only ten days away, BYU is making the transition from training camp to game prep.
Head coach Bronco Mendenhall said Monday represented the final day of two-a-days, while Wednesday will feature a final camp scrimmage, "for younger players that are working their way to get on the travel team to possibly establish some depth or a special-teams role."
"Then, we'll move on to UConn."
SAN BRUNO, Calif — The West Coast Conference released its 2014-2015 men’s basketball conference schedule Monday. The BYU Cougars will begin and end WCC play against Gonzaga. BYU will host the Bulldogs on Saturday, Dec. 27, at the Marriott Center in Provo, and end conference play in Spokane on Feb. 28.
The Cougars won’t play more than three consecutive road games (Jan. 15 at Pacific, Jan. 17 at St Mary's and Jan. 24 at San Diego) and more than three consecutive home games (Feb. 12 vs. St. Mary's, Feb. 14 vs. Pacific and Feb. 19 vs. San Diego) in conference.
The WCC regular season will end Saturday, Feb. 28. The 2015 West Coast Conference Basketball Championships will take place from March 5-10 at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.
BYU on Friday night held its second training camp scrimmage--an exercise that actually produced fewer points than the first scrimmage six days ago, but had head coach Bronco Mendenhall optimistic about a team he said is "more explosive, faster, and more dynamic" than previous versions.
The offense accounted for two touchdowns and a field goal in 12 series. The estimated LaVell Edwards Stadium crowd of 12,000 fans saw quarterback Taysom Hill lead seven series, with backup Christian Stewart getting five sets of snaps.
Hill threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Kurt Henderson on his second series of the night; his other six series ended in five punts and an interception.
Two weeks to the day after his players reported for training camp, BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall approached the halfway-point of camp by saying "I like where we are now," looking to Friday night's stadium scrimmage as "basically a little navigational guide" to help him determine what needs the most attention before the seaon opener at Connecticut.
Speaking after a two-hour practice at the outdoor practice fields, Mendenhall said "we'll scrimmage everybody," presumably meaning that no one will be held out except for health reasons.
"I would like to see really clean execution offensively," said Mendenhall, ticking off the objectives for Friday night. "I'd like to see physical defense, and I'd like to see good tackling."
Not quite halfway through four weeks of preparation for BYU's season opener at UConn, head coach Bronco Mendenhall on Tuesday said "man, it seems like camp has gone on forever, already."
Pronouncing the team "relatively healthy, and progressing, peaking towards scrimmage Friday night," Mendenhall said that "I feel good about where we are," but acknowledged again the grind of the preseason--a preseason he has said before could be a week shorter without sacrificing any readiness for opening day.
Asked if there might ever come a time when a coach voluntarily opts not to use the maximum of NCAA-allotted preseason practice periods, Mendenhall said "(I'm) tempted to (shorten camp), because I know of a lot of coaches right now that don't use their double-days when they have them."
The first week of BYU training camp featured wide receiver Nick Kurtz standing out. Saturday, at BYU's first scrimmage of camp, Kurtz was sitting out--due to a foot fracture that was diagnosed on Friday.
The injury news was a downbeat way to start the day; head coach Bronco Mendenhall said Kurtz will be out for "probably six to eight weeks, would be my guess."
"Luckily we have depth at receiver at this this point," said Mendenhall, "but that will hurt us, because he was doing a really nice job."
Day six of BYU training camp concluded with a media-observation period featuring red-zone work. Taysom Hill had three productive series, ending them with touchdown passes to Nick Kurtz (twice) and Terenn Houk.
Hill's backup Christian Stewart again got a lot of reps, and connected with Colby Pearson on a long TD strike during an 11-on-11 segment; word is the two also connected on a deep score before reporters were allowed in.
A BYU camp practice that was originally scheduled to be closed was opened to the public on Wednesday, with just under a thousand fans filling the available seats at the Student Athlete Building fields.
Those on hand saw Bronco Mendenhall put his players through a two-hour session that featured running back Algernon Brown in uniform for the first time, and tight end Devin Mahina doing some live work for the first time in camp.
Having missed the first four practices due to academics-related issues, Brown was in helmet-only mode on Wednesday, with the rest of his teammates taking part in the first fully-padded practice of the month. Mahina, who is recovering from an ankle injury suffered during pre-camp conditioning, was in full pads and running live routes in the "skelly" portions of practice.