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PROVO -- BYU is going to Logan this week banged and bruised, but still with high spirits. Head Coach Bronco Mendenhall made sure that although the team is currently facing a 1-3 season, morale is high and there should be an understanding that it will take time for the team to be back at the level fans are used to.
"I don't think anything that anyone else is doing can increase the sense of urgency I feel," Mendenhall said. "I have a clear vision of what I want this team to play like and what I believe they can play like, and it really has nothing to do with anyone else around us. That vision in the past has been very helpful in winning a lot of football games and moving the program forward."
After four games it seems that the theme for the BYU Cougars football team this year is clear: consistency and improvement. Mendenhall isn't necessarily looking for all-stars at every position, but steady improvement from snap to snap and game to game.
Statistically, BYU has shown growth throughout the season with in the three games that they have lost. Looking at the games against Air Force, Florida State and Nevada there has been a clear improvement.
BYU held Nevada to 435 total offensive yards compared to the 477 total offensive yards that Air Force was able to put up. BYU also had its most productive day on offense against Nevada, gathering 320 total offensive yards. BYU was able to gain 21 first downs, a season high, compared to 17 against Florida State and 15 against Air Force.
Another statistic which has been quietly making a difference is the amount of penalties for BYU. BYU had seven penalties for 45 yards against Air Force and five penalties for 45 yards against Florida State. Against Nevada, BYU had a total of only one penalty for five yards.
Now that injury has plagued the Cougar team, will BYU continue to rise? Nevada added injury to insult when starting nose tackle Romney Fuga was injured on an illegal block. The block went unseen by the referee and there was no penalty on the play. Fuga was a key defensive player and due to the injury, redshirt player Graham Rowley who wasn't scheduled to play until next year will now be placed in the defensive line rotation.
Other key injuries for the Cougars include junior linebacker James Frazier who will have to have surgery to repair a broken thumb suffered in the Nevada game. Frazier is expected to be out 3-to-4 weeks. True freshman Kyle Van Noy and junior Jadon Wagner will rotate in his spot.
"It's the next chance to improve, the next chance to measure, the next chance to develop," Mendenhall stated in response to whether the game against Utah State is a must win. "A win is what we're shooting for and that's what we'll prepare for, but I think I've said all along that this step is going to be a longer process than many people would like it to be. I think the direction is the right direction."