In losing 17-16 to Utah last year, the BYU Cougars saw the game swing on a handful of key plays.
Among those plays: a Utah punt that grazed a BYU player, extending a Utah possession resulting in a touchdown, and of course the blocked BYU field goal attempt (pictured above) that clinched the game for the Utes; two huge special teams plays that affected the outcome of the game.
Five weeks from Saturday, the BYU Cougars will step into Vaught-Hemingway Stadium (pictured above) and face the Ole Miss Rebels on their home field. The game will kick at 3:45pm CT in Oxford, MS--smack-dab in the middle of the day's highest heat, on an artificial surface that one BYU coach recently told me will feel like "130 degrees." Add in the famous southern humidity, and the Cougars will face environmental factors as extreme as any they will face all season.
Yet, as hot as it is going to be for the Cougars, the Rebels and their head coach may be feeling even more heat, and it could be a factor that plays to BYU's advantage.
The instincts that helped make Jackson Emery into BYU's alltime steals leader told him that the time was right to hang up the high-tops, so Emery is giving up pursuit of a pro basketball career to enter the business world.
"Everything happens for a reason," Emery told me this afternoon. "With the (overseas) market being really down this year and really slow and my agent having a really tough time--not because I'm not a good player, but just because of the whole market--I got a job opportunity here...(that) I decided I'm going to go with."
The next few days will be my final days off before I get back to work for the 2011-12 BYU Sports season. Basically, from late July through the end of the BYU Basketball season in mid-to late March, there are no vacation days (with the exception of a day or two around Christmas, if I'm lucky), so the middle of July usually represents my final fling, as far as time off goes.
As such, before I vacate the premises for a short time, here is an end-of-the week clearinghouse of scattered BYU Football/Basketball musings, in no particular order.
BYU sophomore quarterback Jake Heaps was today named to the 38-player "watch list" for the Davey O' Brien Award Watch List, given annually to the nation's best QB. His teammate J.J. DiLuigi is meantime one of 51 RBs on the Doak Walker Award watch list (see end of posting).
BYU quarterbacks have won the O'Brien Award four times-- more than any other school. Jim McMahon won the honor in 1981, Steve Young was a recipient in 1983, while Ty Detmer went back-to-back in 1990 and 1991. Additionally, BYU QBs have finished second (Robbie Bosco, 1984) and 3rd (Steve Sarkisian, 1996) in award balloting.
BYU's Jimmer Fredette capped off his personal awards season by winning an ESPY for Best Male College Athlete Wednesday night at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles.
Fredette outdistanced UConn point guard Kemba Walker and Auburn QB Cam Newton for the award, which Jimmer received from singer/actor Justin Timberlake (shown above with Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers).
With a newly-signed contract keeping him in Cougar blue for at least three more seasons, Bronco Mendenhall joined Marc Lyons and me during KSL Radio's two-hour BYU Football Media Day Special on Tuesday afternoon.
You can hear Mendenhall discuss his new three-year deal and his program's path to independence by clicking on the audio links in the "Cougar Cuts" box to the right. In Hour 1 of Tuesday's broadcast, you will hear Mendenhall, BYU LB Jordan Pendleton and BYU Offensive Coordinator/QB coach Brandon Doman. Hour 2 features BYUtv Managing Director Derek Marquis, ESPN VP Dave Brown, BYU QB Jake Heaps, former BYU OL and current ESPN commentator Trevor Matich, and WCC Commissioner Jamie Zaninovich.
BYU Head Football Coach Bronco Mendenhall helped to usher in his team's era of independence during his program's national Media Day Tuesday morning, saying "our goal is to win a national championship. To do that we'll have to be undefeated, and at some point we will be."
During a one-hour session broadcast live to a worldwide audience on BYUtv from the BYU Broadcasting studios in Provo, Mendenhall spoke of the "risk" involved with football independence. "Certainly there's pressure," said Mendenhall, "but why stay the same? We're anxious for this to be a defining moment in the institution's history- -to move forward. To not take the risk, that wouldn't be right."
In its first year as a Division 1 independent, BYU launches its college football campaign on a national scale Tuesday in Provo, with its own Football Media Day, originating live from the on-campus BYU Broadcasting studios.
I will be joined by Marc Lyons as we host a live, two-hour Media Day special on KSL Radio (102.7FM and 1160AM and ksl.com), from 1:00-3:00 pm Tuesday afternoon. The second hour of the broadcast (2:00-3:00pm) will also be heard on BYU Radio via byuradio.org and SiriusXM Channel 143.
At noon MT on Friday, the West Coast Conference officially added BYU to its membership, bringing to nine the numbers of affiliated schools in a group of private, faith-based institutions that is seeing its first expansion since 1979.
The WCC used the occasion of BYU's addition to unveil a new look and logo. The new design eliminates the previous "map-based" imaging and replaces it with a clean, bold representation that I think will serve the conference well for years to come.
The first BYU Football and Basketball games I ever called were for the WAC's "quadrant-era" Cougars. My football play-by-play debut was as a fill-in for a recuperating Paul James at the WAC Championship game in Las Vegas, in December of 1996. As the titleist in the Mountain Division, BYU defeated Pacific Division champ Wyoming (hailing from the calming shores of Laramie), and played in the Cotton Bowl, having been shut out of the Bowl Alliance—precursor to the Bowl Championship Series.
That same winter, I began my courtside tenure with the Cougar hoopsters, who would go 1-25 overall; 0-16 in a 16-team league that featured BYU playing cross-quadrant foes SMU, TCU, Rice and Tulsa, and inter-division cross-over opponent Wyoming.
The last week of June represents the first week of the next phase in Jimmer Fredette's career, and the final week of BYU's membership in the Mountain West Conference.
Interestingly, July 1st represents key a date for both Fredette and BYU. Friday could be the first day of an NBA lockout, and will be the first day of BYU's membership in the West Coast Conference. The countdown is on.
Jimmer Fredette's westward journey continued Thursday night. The kid from upstate New York has gone from the Rocky Mountains on to Northern California, with the consensus national player of the year in college basketball making the leap to the pros by becoming the tenth selection in the first round of the 2011 NBA Draft.
Fredette was picked by the Milwaukee Bucks, who made the pick for the Sacramento Kings, one of the teams involved in a three-way deal that also featured the Charlotte Bobcats.
Sitting down with me on NBA Draft day, BYU head coach Dave Rose said Jimmer Fredette "is the best college scorer that I've ever been around," and that "for what Jimmer does, and the skill set that he has...he can play at any level in any league."
"The NBA game is a lot different than the college game," said Rose, "(but) every coach needs a guy who can make baskets, and Jimmer can make baskets--from the perimeter, at the rim, at the free throw line, on balance, off balance. You just need guys who can make baskets."
Jimmer Fredette drew a large crowd around his table at the NBA's Draft Week media availability this morning in New York City, attracting more attention than most of the higher-ranked players who will be joining Jimmer in the "green room" tomorrow night.
You can hear Jimmer's entire 30-minute media session by clicking on the "play" button in the "Cougar Cuts" box to the right; you can also hear a conversation I had with Jimmer's Octagon agent Chris Emens.
The first clue about what kind of week this is going to be for Jimmer Fredette was when his PR rep said we probably shouldn't shoot our scheduled interview with Jimmer outside, near the lights of Times Square.
Too many people, too many autograph-seekers, too many complications. Even in New York City, where commotion and celebrity are facts of life, Jimmer needs a little peace and quiet where he can find it.
Jimmer Fredette remains the "mystery man" of this year's NBA Draft; is he a sure-fire top-ten pick, a high-teen lottery selection, or someone who will slip on Thursday night?
Everyone seems to have an opinion, but the opinions of the team executives for whom Fredette worked out have been uniformly positive. That feedback has led Jimmer to enter draft week brimming with confidence and positivity, based on those close to Fredette.
Following a selective NBA workout schedule that took him to five cities from east coast to west coast, Jimmer Fredette is home again--back in Glens Falls, NY for a few days, before heading downstate to start the next phase of his basketball-playing career.
By Jake Hatch, KSL Radio Sports Producer
SALT LAKE CITY -- It was media day at the Zion's Bank Basketball Center and inside the media gathered for what was the Jazz' biggest pre-draft workout of the year.
No fewer than 50 media members crowded around Jimmer Fredette, Kemba Walker, Jazz Head Coach Tyrone Corbin and Jazz GM Kevin O'Connor when the doors opened to the Jazz practice court. Coach Corbin and O'Connor both said they were surprised by the attention this workout received.
He hasn't yet taken his first class at Lone Peak High School, yet T.J. Haws already has his first college scholarship offer: from BYU.
As confirmed by T.J.'s father and former BYU star guard Marty Haws, Cougar head coach Dave Rose has offered the sophomore-to-be, with Marty saying T.J. was "thrilled."
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