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."
The BYU hoopsters are heading east, while the football team travels west on a busy weekend ahead. While Dave Rose's team faces a statement-making pair of games in the early stage of its season, Bronco Mendenhall's squad is on the home stretch and already bowl-bound, but facing a notable challenge just the same.
The BYU Basketball team takes a 2-0 record to Brooklyn's Barclays Center and the championship round games of the "Coaches vs. Cancer Classic." First up, on Friday night, is a 1-1 Florida State team that bounced back from an opening-night upset loss to South Alabama by blasting Buffalo earlier this week.
After opening the season with a comfortable win over a 20-win team from last season, Dave Rose's BYU Cougars welcome to Provo a 22-win squad from 2011-12, as the Georgia State Panthers make their first-ever visit to the Marriott Center on Tuesday night.
Calling the Panthers "a very athletic team, similar to (season-opening foe) Tennessee State," Rose previewed the matchup when meeting with reporters after an 80-minute practice Monday afternoon.
One of the strongholds of the BYU defense has taken an additional hit with the news that senior safety Joe Sampson has been suspended for an unspecified violation of team rules and has withdrawn from school, as announced on Thursday by head football coach Bronco Mendenhall.
Sophomore linebacker Zac Stout was also suspended for a violation of team rules and has likewise withdrawn from school.
After a week off Bronco Mendenhall rejoined Greg Wrubell and Marc Lyons on Wednesday night for KSL Newsradio's live broadcast of "BYU Football with Head Coach Bronco Mendenhall" from LaVell Edwards Stadium.
During the bye week the players had extra downtime and a chance to get caught up on schoolwork as they put in a couple days of mandatory lifting and three days of practice. Coaches and the athletic department worked on recruiting and scheduling, all of which was discussed Wednesday.
Bronco Mendenhall said he is very pleased with the latest additions to BYU's future football schedules. On Tuesday, BYU announced that it will play at Michigan in 2015. Today the Cougars announced a home-and-home series with the Virginia Cavaliers. BYU will travel to Charlottesville on August 31, 2013 and will then host Virginia in Provo September 20, 2014.
"Really excited; we've been working on them for a long time, at least the Michigan game," Bronco said. Virginia was a result of Washington State wanting out of the contract. The ACC needs games and we got a nice opportunity there."
The contracted Washington State game in 2013 was supposed to be played in Pullman. Bronco was asked if BYU will ever make that trip. "That's really up to them," Bronco said. "They chose to not want the game, so I don't know if we go back there or not."
A day after announcing a 2015 game at Michigan, BYU on Wednesday confirmed a two-game, home-and-home series with the University of Virginia, with the games scheduled for 2013 and 2014.
BYU will open next season in Charlottesville, with the Cougars and Cavaliers meeting on August 31, 2013. The two sides will then play in Provo on Sept. 20, 2014.
With BYU having traversed the toughest part of its 2012 schedule, BYU Offensive Coordinator Brandon Doman believes the next challenge is "to be able to finish". The Cougars will play their final home game of the season this weekend at home against the Idaho Vandals (1-8, 1-3 WAC).
Doman spoke with the media after Tuesday evening's practice, with media sessions also conducted by quarterback Riley Nelson and running back Jamaal Williams.
A 2015 BYU Football schedule that already includes a game at Nebraska got more of a Big Ten boost today with the news that the Cougars will visit Ann Arbor to face the University of Michigan.
BYU announced the game on Monday afternoon, in a press release that reads as follows:
With his team coming off an impressive road win at Georgia Tech followed by a bye week, BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall says his players are "anxious to play already… anxious to get back to work and I think anxious to really finish strong."
Speaking after a Monday evening practice in the IPF, Mendenhall said his 5-4 squad has "a lot to improve as a football program and as a team," downplaying the fact that BYU will finish the regular season with a trio of WAC teams, including two of the FBS' worst programs, in Idaho (this Saturday) and New Mexico State (Nov. 24).
A busy month of November is underway, with the BYU football team moving into its WAC-themed final quarter of the regular season, while the Cougar hoopsters tip off their 2012-13 campaign with a first-month slate that features a high-profile trip to New York City.
The football team's 5-4 record is a disappointment, considering the preseason expectations, and the established benchmark of a ten-win season is no longer mathematically possible. Winning out would mean a 9-4 campaign and a five-game win streak to end the season, but it's unlikely that such a finish would sneak the Cougars back into the season-ending Top 25 polls—another annual program expectation.
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