For the BYU basketball team, this week of final exams follows the Cougars' first in-state test of the season—a weekend win over Utah that further solidified BYU's current status as the dominant force in the blue-red hardwoods rivalry.
Saturday's come-from-behind, 61-58 victory improves Dave Rose's record to 12-3 against the Runnin' Utes, with BYU having won seven in a row and 11 of the last 12 meetings. The seven straight wins equal a BYU streak set from 1964 through 1967 and is second only to an eight-game run from 1909 through 1912—-the first eight games played between the two schools.
Cougar Tracks: Mendenhall says Nelson "not healthy enough right now" to be considered Poinsettia Bowl starterPosted Dec 10th - 6:51pm by Greg Wrubell
Meeting the media after his team's first practice in preparation for the Poinsettia Bowl, head coach Bronco Mendenhall said Monday that quarterback Riley Nelson is "not healthy enough right now to be considered as the (Poinsettia Bowl) starter yet."
"We've got time," said Mendenhall, but "at this point, we have to plan on James (Lark) working and going forward, and then just wait to see where Riley catches up."
Mendenhall said Nelson "practiced a little bit today. Still not 100% (with a rib cartilage injury)...he did get some work, but I would consider it light at best, if you were to describe it."
On the same day Utah State announced that basketball player Danny Berger had been released from the hospital, USU and BYU also announced that their postponed basketball game has been re-scheduled, for Tuesday, February 19th at the Marriott Center.
BYU's press release on the rescheduling reads:
While in San Diego on Wednesday to help promote his team's upcoming appearance in the Poinsettia Bowl, BYU head football coach Bronco Mendenhall was asked about recent rumors that have him linked with the coaching vacancy at Colorado.
As reported by the Deseret News, Mendenhall denied expressing interest in, being contacted about, or interviewing for the open job in Boulder—-a post which remains open after Cincinnati's Butch Jones turned down the school's offer of employment.
BYU head coach Dave Rose said Wednesday there is "no question" that postponing this evening's scheduled basketball game between Utah State and BYU was the correct decision, after Aggie forward Danny Berger's collapse and hospitalization on Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters only hours before game would have tipped off, Rose said that although unconfirmed reports of a postponement circulated Tuesday night, Utah State requested that BYU hold off on a postponement announcement until Wednesday morning, since "there was still a possibility that the game would be played."
With Utah State basketball player Danny Berger remaining hospitalized in critical condition after his on-court collapse on Tuesday, officials from USU and BYU have announced the postponement of the teams' Marriott Center meeting scheduled for tonight.
Utah State's press release on the situation reads:
A day ahead of his team's Marriott Center meeting with the Utah State Aggies, BYU head hoops coach Dave Rose said his players "are really focused on getting better as a team."
Following the second of two practices in preparation for Wednesday night's game, Rose said the last couple of days have been spent "trying to evaluate your team and correct things," while at the same time, "having enough confidence in your ability to believe that you're a good team and can respond to a tough situation."
At 5-3, the BYU hoopsters are off to their most sluggish eight-game start since 2006, and while there is a lot of basketball left to play, early-season shooting numbers represent a bit of a red flag for the boys in blue.
BYU's three-point percentage is pacing for a Rose-era low, a season after the 2011-12 squad set a new low-water mark from the arc. The Cougars' overall FG% (.450) is almost identical to the previous Rose-era low set in 2010-11 (.449).
BYU head coach Dave Rose is planning on making changes to his starting lineup for the second straight game. After practice on Tuesday, Rose said, "We're gonna change it tomorrow, so it'll be a little bit different...I think I'm actually really pleased with how way we start games; looking for the best way to continue that start."
Last Saturday against Cal State Northridge, BYU's starting five consisted of Craig Cusick, Brock Zylstra, Tyler Haws, Agustin Ambrosino and Brandon Davies. Davies and Haws are locks to be starters. As far as Craig Cusick knew on Tuesday, he will remain the team's floor general, saying, "I think so as of right now, but you never know; things can always change."
It appears that the switch will probably come at the forward position with Josh Sharp returning to the lineup after a one-game absence.
The BYU pass attack has been ranked in the middle of the FBS pack over the last two seasons (47th in 2011, 51st in 2012), but the "receiving" part of the passing offense has shown steady improvement in the two years since Ben Cahoon was hired to coach the wideouts.
If the wide receivers' primary objective is to catch every ball thrown their way, then BYU has come a long way from 2010--the season before Cahoon came on board.
When the 2012 BYU Football season began, there was no question about the identity of the team's starting quarterback. Riley Nelson was the senior incumbent, coming off a season in which he ended up ranked 16th in pass efficiency.
After coming off the bench for Jake Heaps in game five of the 2011 season to rally the Cougars to a win over Utah State, Nelson then paced BYU to victories in six of his seven starts.
Nelson's insertion in 2011 awakened a slumbering BYU attack, as he sparked the team with his mobility and ability to keep plays alive; the Cougars went from one of the worst third-down conversion teams before ho took over, to the best third-down team in the country over the season's final eight games.
For the first time in their postseason history, the BYU Cougars will play a bowl opponent on its home field.
BYU on Monday confirmed that the Cougars will meet San Diego State in the Poinsettia Bowl on December 20th at the Aztecs' home venue in Qualcomm Stadium.
A constant theme from the 2012 BYU Football season has been quarterback play--and quarterback health.
Tuesday night's season finale of "BYU Football with Head Coach Bronco Mendenhall" spent a lot of time on the Cougars' season-long QB quandary, in addition to a look back at last week's loss at San Jose State and the upcoming regular season-ender at New Mexico State.
Tuesday marked the second straight day that James Lark took all the reps at quarterback for BYU, as Riley Nelson continues to recover from a rib cartilage injury.
Head coach Bronco Mendenhall called Nelson "probable" for Saturday's game at New Mexico State, but said it was too early to say if BYU's senior starter would play in Las Cruces. When asked if there was a drop-dead date when a decision had to made, Bronco said, "usually by Thursday; they have to be able to participate some on Thursday."
While Bronco seems willing to wait a few more days, offensive coordinator Brandon Doman would like to make the decision sooner.
Coming off the program's first consecutive regular season losses since January of 2009, BYU head basketball coach Dave Rose has his team preparing for a WAC foe on a bit of roll, with UTSA visiting the Cougars on Wednesday night.
The Roadrunners are in the midst of a three-leagues-in-three-years transition, having left the Southland Conference for the WAC, with a move to Conference USA on tap for next season. Head coach Brooks Thompson's team has won three straight games after losing its season opener, and included in the victories was a nine-point decision at Old Dominion, which Rose called "a great win; that's a hard place to play and a hard place to get a win, and they won pretty handily there."
BYU head football coach Bronco Mendenhall said starting quarterback Riley Nelson did not practice on Monday, two days after suffering a rib cartilage injury in BYU's 20-14 loss at San Jose State.
"He's hurt," said Mendenhall of Nelson after an evening practice indoors. "Hopefully he'll be back by the (New Mexico State) game, but he got pounded (at SJSU)...he took a lot of shots."
"That he finished the game after watching it...it's pretty impressive."
The days preceding Thanksgiving didn't give BYU football or basketball fans much for which to be grateful.
Bronco Mendenhall's team dropped a 20-14 decision at WAC foe San Jose State on Saturday night, while Dave Rose's hoopsters went 0-for-Brooklyn in losing both of its championship round games at the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic—falling to Florida State on Friday, and fading late in a loss to Notre Dame on Saturday.
BYU head basketball coach Dave Rose on Wednesday night announced the signing of five high school players to national letters of intent, and confirmed the return of Kyle Collinsworth to the program at the conclusion of his LDS Church mission.
The new players are Lone Peak High School stars Nick Emery and Eric Mika, Idaho prepster Braiden Shaw, Oklahoma high schooler Jakob Hartsock and Wisconsin prep product Luke Worthington. BYU says "Mika and Worthington plan to play for the Cougars next season," while the other three signees are headed out on missions after the upcoming high school year.
LaVell Edwards Stadium sits idle until next football season, but the stadium's President's Loge remains the site for KSL Newsradio's weekly broadcast of "BYU Football with Head Coach with Bronco Mendenhall."
Wednesday night, Mendenhall and player Robbie Buckner joined Greg Wrubell, Marc Lyons and BYU fans as the Cougars prepare for Saturday's visit to San Jose State.
The Cougars' trip to warmer (if wetter) weather this week follows a frigid home finale against Idaho. BYU will be taking on a tough Spartans squad trying to prove that its 8-2 record is not a fluke.
Wednesday's BYU football practice ended with the good news that offensive linemen Braden Hansen and Brock Stringham had both returned to practice. When asked if Hansen, who's been out with an adductor injury since the Notre Dame game, would play, Bronco said, "he could play."
Sophomore cornerback Jordan Johnson returned to practice this past Monday after being suspended for the Idaho game. When asked how he's doing now, Bronco said, "he's doing great; I can't say it's not like it didn't happen, but so much happens in my day and in his day, it seems like a long time ago already."
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