BYU running back Jamaal Williams will miss the rest of the season after suffering multiple knee injuries in the Cougars 27-7 win at Middle Tennessee on Saturday.
"Significant injury," said head coach Bronco Mendenhall on Monday, when asked about Williams' status. "Surgery tomorrow, done for the year. It's severe and multiple. Significant and severe, is what I was told."
Williams left the game after taking hard hit to the lower body following a key third-down catch late in the third quarter. At the BYU sideline, a clearly distraught Williams reclined on the training table with his right knee on ice, a towel covering his head. A steady stream of teammates made their way to Williams' side as the game wound down.
PROVO — Despite a four-game skid, BYU football's offense has moved the ball well and continued putting points on the board, but there is plenty of room for improvement.
Offensive Coordinator Robert Anae spoke about fundamentals Wednesday, such as getting your helmet in the right place and gaining leverage on the line, but his main concern is efficiency.
“It was kind of the deal the other night where a lot was asked,” Anae said. “And we didn’t get going 'til later in the game. Inconsistent — we’ve got to focus on starting better, starting fast and being efficient when we hit the field.”
PROVO — Heading into this week’s matchup with Middle Tennessee, BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall is eager for this week’s game, seeing it as both an opportunity to get out of the losing skid and as an opportunity to claim a win at a very key time for his team and its season.
“I think first and foremost it’s how bad our coaches and team want to get out of the skid and want to improve, want to commit, want to execute, want to practice, and how hungry they are to put in the work to make that happen,” Mendenhall said during his weekly coach’s show.
Mendenhall said he likes the effort he’s seen from his players this week and is encouraged with the mindset they’re carrying and their will to execute this week as they take on the Blue Raiders.
PROVO — Coming off yet another disappointing defensive performance in a loss to Boise State last Friday, the Cougar defense knows all eyes are upon them this Saturday as BYU travel to Murfreesboro, Tennessee, to take on the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (5-3, 4-1 C-USA).
The Cougars also have seen their points-allowed-per-game average shoot up from 18.75 through the first four games to 40.75. While the losses and daunting defensive statistics may have the fans' moods down, the desire to play better and improve is still very evident in the BYU locker room.
“From the outside it might seem to some that the season is over, that these last games don’t mean anything, but to us they do,” said junior defensive captain Remington Peck. “We feel we can still have a positive season and end on a good note.”
PROVO — From an exciting 4-0 start, to a four game losing streak, this BYU team has seen a full range of emotions this season. The Cougars are coming off a devastating 25-point loss to Boise State, but there was an overwhelming feeling of unity and high expectations at Monday’s practice.
“Of course we’re a little disappointed, I mean, it’s been four games,” senior wide receiver Jordan Leslie said. “But, we’re coming in with a strong, competitive mindset. We need to prove something. We need to come out and play strong.”
The Cougars put up more than 300 yards of total offense on Friday, but allowed their opponent to reach more than 600 yards for the first time under head coach Bronco Mendenhall.
BYU was picked second to perennial West Coast Conference power Gonzaga in preseason coaches' balloting unveiled Monday at the league's annual Basketball Tipoff/Media Day event in Los Angeles. BYU guards Tyler Haws and Kyle Collinsworth were also named to the preseason All-WCC squad.
Gonzaga received nine of ten first-place votes in order-of-finish polling, with BYU receiving the other top-spot nod. Coaches are not allowed to vote for their own teams or own players.
PROVO — This week BYU sets out to accomplish something only four teams have done in the last 14 years: win a football game on the “smurf turf” of Boise State. The Broncos are 88-4 on their home field since 2000, and in Wednesday's radio broadcast of "BYU Football with Bronco Mendenhall," the head coach echoed his weeklong message that execution is the key to a competitive game Friday night.
The defense has taken a lot of the criticism this season, allowing 387.6 yards per game (the most since 2005). Coach Mendenhall says a lot of the defense’s struggles come down to inexperience and young players who haven’t yet mastered the art of assignment-sound football.
Mendenhall said he saw “giant” improvement in the secondary last week, and that he was encouraged by what he saw in the film room.
PROVO — With less than half of the 2014 season remaining and currently on a three-game losing skid, the BYU Cougars are ready to move on from the past and focus on this week’s opponent, Boise State.
Entering a short week with the game being on Friday night, the players and coaches clearly recognize there is no time to dwell on the disappointments and lack of execution that has plagued both sides of the ball the last three weeks, but instead the work must come in fixing the problems as they move forward.
“Streaks of winning or losing, all we focus on is one week at a time and try to look out the front of the windshield, not the back rearview mirror,” explained offensive coordinator Robert Anae Tuesday morning.
PROVO — After a third straight loss, head coach Bronco Mendenhall and his young team say they know the primary issue holding this team from wins. After practice Monday morning, the theme was assignment-sound football.
“The main thing for our team to take another step forward, I think just discipline and execution are the two words that would really be helpful.” Mendenhall said.
Mendenhall said the team is very close to making those plays that win games, but admitted he underestimated the youth and inexperience of the team and on defense that contributes greatly to the lack of execution.
PROVO — BYU head football coach Bronco Mendenhall used his Wednesday night show to express disappointment with his team's most recent loss, but also to pull positives from the Cougars' 31-24 overtime setback at UCF.
The margin between victory and defeat is always narrow in extra time, but Mendenhall said if the team executes all night they don’t have to dwell on a single play, or put the game in anybody else’s hands.
Case in point: BYU's final offensive play of overtime, in which an apparent fourth-down pass interference call was missed by the officiating crew. In the days that followed, the officiating supervisor in charge of reviewing questionable calls acknowledged that the field officials missed the play.
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