PROVO — Heading into his last home game of the season, BYU head football coach Bronco Mendenhall is determined to keep his team focused this week despite playing 0-11 Savannah State.
Mendenhall explained how the matchup with the Tigers came to be, saying that a bigger opponent was in place until a contract was broken late in the scheduling process, causing the Cougars' staff to scramble to find an opponent.
“We had an opponent scheduled, would’ve been a fantastic and intriguing matchup right now, and somewhere along the line all I got was word that that game will not happen,” explained Mendenhall.
PROVO — On Oct. 2, Taysom Hill was a Heisman candidate in the national spotlight leading an undefeated BYU team ranked 18th in the country. On Oct. 3 at home in a loss against the Utah State Aggies, Hill saw his season end with a broken leg, and he knew it pretty quickly.
“I remember the play, I remember thinking that, hey I just broke my leg,” Hill said. “When it happened I immediately reached down and grabbed my leg in pain and then walked off the field. As they were examining me I finally just told them, like look Steve, our trainer, it's broken.”
Hill is six weeks into his six-month recovery and says that rehab is getting more intense, but he is on schedule. This isn’t the first time Hill has suffered a significant season-ending injury during a Utah State game; in 2012 he injured his LCL six weeks into the season. Hill says that experience helped and this time is different, he is now married and in the midst of the intense BYU junior core finance program. He said he’s been able to take his competitive fire and aim it at academics, but more importantly marriage has given him perspective.
PROVO — The Cougars are looking at their 10th straight bowl game after securing their sixth win against UNLV. However, Miami is still a month away, and defensive coordinator Nick Howell says there are still two regular season games to play, and the team isn’t content with just going to a bowl game.
“I would say that we are not satisfied,” Howell said. “It’s good that we’re gong to a bowl game. We’ll be satisfied when we win this week, and if we win the next week and if we win our bowl game, that’ll bring some satisfaction. But to say just ‘yeah, we’re gong to the bowl game, we got six wins’… if we stay satisfied with that, I don’t thank that’s a good deal.
"But there could be some satisfaction out there from fighting through this thing and doing our best the next couple weeks," he added.
Having opened their 2014-15 campaign with a home win over Long Beach State, the BYU Cougar hoopsters will this week play home games on back-to-back nights before heading to Hawaii and next week's Maui Invitational.
Arkansas Little-Rock will visit the Marriott Center on Tuesday night, with Division III foe Southern Virginia providing the opposition on Wednesday night. Thursday will see the team take off for the islands, where three games in three days await next week.
BYU head coach Dave Rose says the accelerated early-season pace could pay off in the islands.
PROVO — Coming off a 42-23 win over UNLV on a cold night at LaVell Edwards Stadium BYU now sets its sights on and begins preparations for its final home game of the season this Saturday afternoon versus the Savannah State Tigers.
Despite Savannah State’s 0-11 record BYU’s players and coaches are determined to keep focus heading into this week’s matchup not only for the team’s sake, but also for the 26 seniors who will play their last home game in front of the Cougar faithful.
BYU head football coach Bronco Mendenhall explained that he doesn’t want to reminisce too much with three games still remaining on the schedule, including the bowl game in Miami, but emphasizes that the team and coaching staff does want to ensure a great finish and experiences together for the seniors.
PROVO — The BYU Cougars announced a two-game football series with the SEC’s Missouri Tigers on Thursday. The first meeting will take place at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri, home of the Kansas City Chiefs, on Nov. 14, 2015. BYU will then host Mizzou in Provo on Nov. 7, 2020.
“It’s a great opportunity and challenge for our football team to play such a fine school as Missouri,” said BYU Athletic Director Tom Holmoe. “They are a new SEC school with a rich football tradition going back to the Big 12. It will also be exciting for our team to play at Arrowhead Stadium in a region of the country where we haven't been in awhile.”
The Cougars and Tigers have met only once before in football, when BYU beat Missouri in the 1983 Holiday Bowl.
PROVO — With the taste of a win fresh in their mouths, the Cougars will get back at it this weekend with an old Mountain West Conference foe in UNLV. At this week’s “BYU Football with Bronco Mendenhall,” coach Mendenhall said that the win in Tennessee gave his team a new outlook on the season and that they’re ready for whatever comes next.
“The attitude of the team even in the stretches where we were close, but not getting the victories, they were resilient and tough, but not much smiling going on,” Mendenhall said. “It just is more fun and it’s much more rewarding for myself as the head coach to see smiles because they’ve been working really, really hard … it just gave them the sense that this could be a really good team, and this could be a really good finish.”
Bad luck was a constant companion for the Cougars in October, starting with the loss of Taysom Hill and ending with a four-game losing streak. This week’s player guest was senior quarterback Christian Stewart, who stepped up in Hill’s stead and led the team through that difficult stretch.
The last time BYU played a basketball game that counted (v. Oregon in the NCAA tournament back in March), head coach Dave Rose had nine roster players in uniform.
Friday night, as the Cougars open the regular season with Long Beach State at the Marriott Center, Rose will have dressed and ready for action 15 players, all of whom are scholarship or scholarship-committed players.
The sudden depth is an unusual luxury for Rose, who has decided against additional trimming of the roster for the time being. With Kyle Davis sitting out the season after transferring from Utah State, and Jamal Aytes out indefinitely following ankle surgery, only freshman Jordan Chatman is projected to redshirt, giving Rose 15 guys ready to roll.
PROVO — From Taysom Hill against Utah State to Jamaal Williams at Middle Tennessee, injuries have defined the last six weeks of BYU football. The depth and youth of the team has been in the spotlight with a focus on mistakes. After a four-game losing streak, the victory at Middle Tennessee and a bye week, the Cougars are confident in their personnel and itching to get back on the field.
Quarterback Christian Stewart now has the majority of the starts for BYU, and he believes in the guys he will have on the field with him, even if they aren’t the stars everyone expected on the field. Today he spoke about the absence of Jamaal Williams
“I feel like, yeah it hurts us big time,” Stewart said. “But at the same time, we have other guys who will step up and make big plays. I’m not too concerned about the loss. Obviously I want him out there, don’t get me wrong, but I know that Algie (Brown), Paul (Lasike), Adam (Hine), Nate (Carter), those guys are gonna step up big time this week."
PROVO — As the Cougars welcomed November in Tennessee two weeks ago, all they could think about was getting a win. After what seemed to be a never-ending October full of injury and woe, BYU needed a change … and fast. The defense seemed uncharacteristically uncertain, but it found the victory it was looking for against the Blue Raiders. Tuesday, defensive players said snapping that losing streak gave them some much-needed confidence as they prepare to host UNLV on Saturday.
“I think we kind of got our groove back having a win,” said sophomore defensive back Kai Nacua. “It felt good getting a win again, so I think everyone’s refocused and they know what we need to do … and just want to do a lot better than we were.”
The Cougars face a 2-8 Rebel team with a quarterback who’s comfortable on his feet. Defensive coordinator Nick Howell says containing UNLV’s quarterback will be key to a Cougar victory on Saturday.