PROVO — One year and two weeks ago on a rainy day in Charlottesville, Virginia, the Virginia Cavaliers beat BYU, 17-16, on Day One of the season, crushing the Cougars' anticipation for a great year.
BYU knows as an independent the only way to take advantage of a national stage and make noise is to win and keep winning. As the Cougars prepare to square off against Virginia Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at LaVell Edwards Stadium, once again they know this time is under much different circumstances and BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall relishes the opportunity.
“Really like that they're coming to Provo," he said. "I really like it this early in the season we have exposure already, we’re playing well and one more chance to show what our program is about.”
This week’s coach’s broadcast of "BYU Football with Bronco Mendenhall" welcomed in week three of Cougar football just days after the team’s dominating victory in Texas. The Cougars gave the Longhorns a 41-7 beat-down in Austin — a victory Mendenhall says came down to maturity, preparation and a really good quarterback.
Taysom Hill received a lot of national attention after his performance Saturday with 99 rushing and 181 passing yards. Because BYU’s independence status gives it more visibility on a national stage, Mendenhall said, “it’s hard for someone not to take notice.”
Mendenhall mentioned that because the program is so visible, it’s important for the team to perform well against big opponents like Texas.
PROVO — After last week’s 41-7 trouncing of Texas in Austin, the BYU Cougars have returned home for a short week of preparation before their home opener vs. Houston at LaVell Edwards Stadium this Thursday night.
BYU’s matchup with Texas started slow as the Cougars found themselves missing chances to capitalize and entered the half with what seemed like an under-achieving 6-0 lead. BYU, however, came out strong in the third quarter on both offense and defense.
Taysom Hill capped off the first drive of the second half with an impressive highlight-reel touchdown run, including a leap over a Texas defender for the game’s first touchdown, and it was all BYU from there. The offense went on to score three more times in the third quarter and added another touchdown in the fourth quarter to seal the victory.
PROVO - This week BYU gears up for an early-season bout with one of the biggest programs in college football, but head coach Bronco Mendenhall says the implications of the result against Texas go beyond the win or loss in week two.
During the weekly broadcast of "BYU Football with Bronco Mendenhall," heard on KSL Newsradio, the coach said that as an independent, BYU finds itself on the boundary of a new division in college football, a division between the Power 5 or "P5" conferences, and a second-tier group of conferences, known as the Group of 5 ("G5"). Mendenhall says this fact puts a magnifying glass on games against P5 opponents like the storied Texas.
"They have one of the largest if not the largest budget," said Mendenhall. "They have the best of everything and so to have the chance to be considered or measured against that, even if it meant two (road games) for one (home game), I'm willing to do it."
PROVO - After last season's 40-21 win over the Texas Longhorns, BYU's Taysom Hill-led offense is garnering a great deal of attention heading into this Saturday's game rematch in Austin.
2013's breakout performance saw the Cougars rack up 679 total yards of offense, including a team-record 550 rushing yards, in a game offensive coordinator Robert Anae called an early turning point in the season.
"We grew as a team last year against Texas and I hope to do so this year as well," said Anae on Wednesday after the Cougars' morning practice.
PROVO — The BYU Cougars ended their second weekday of Texas prep Tuesday morning, with defensive coaches and players meeting the media and previewing a key weekend meeting in Austin.
Saturday's matchup is highly anticipated by Cougar and Longhorn fans alike. While a win on Texas' home turf could have national ramifications for BYU, defensive coordinator Nick Howell says he tries not to look too far past the opponent.
"It doesn't matter. All that matters is what we can control, and that's doing our jobs the best we can," Howell said. "Every week is a one-week season. Nothing else matters … at practice; everything that we do is put into this game right here. That's what matters."
PROVO — The BYU Cougars returned to practice on Monday after a season-opening victory at UConn last Friday night. Up next for Bronco and the boys is a trip to Austin, Texas, to face the Longhorns on Saturday.
BYU’s signature win last season was against Texas at LaVell Edwards Stadium, when the Cougars crushed the Longhorns 40-21. In that game, Taysom Hill ran for 259 yards and scored three rushing touchdowns. That performance has obviously stuck with Texas, which has been very vocal about having this year’s BYU game circled on its calendar.
Despite all of the talk of last year’s game, Bronco Mendenhall doesn’t believe it is very relevant.
PROVO — The BYU Football team is days away from the start of its 2014 campaign, and as the game against the University of Connecticut approaches BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall is excited to see where this current group is headed.
Entering his 10th season as head football coach Mendenhall knows there is a clean slate, but also recognizes the expectations as well.
“A good year every year at BYU is top 25, 10 or more wins and that’s just what’s expected. Anything above that becomes a great season,” Mendenhall explained on Tuesday during the season’s first 'BYU Football with Bronco Mendenhall' radio show.
After what he called a "great" Monday morning practice, BYU head football coach Bronco Mendenhall looked ahead to his team's Friday night season-opener at Connecticut, noting that "it's always difficult to tell exactly where you are going into the opener."
Reflecting on last season's 19-16 loss at Virginia to start the season, Mendenhall said "I was shocked that we didn't score a bunch of points in our opener last year, based on how our offense had moved it against our defense."
"I'm more cautious," said Medenhall on Monday, "and maybe less accepting of exactly what I see and then trying to predict what that will really look like."
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.
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