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My first order of business is to give all BYU fans major props for the effect you all had in last week's game! I couldn't believe the decibel level even with my sound-canceling headphones on.
One of the things I remember most about my freshman year in 2003 was traveling to South Bend, Indiana and playing against one of the most storied programs in the country: the University of Notre Dame.
That particular year however, Notre Dame was struggling. The Fighting Irish, boasting a 2-6 record, welcomed the Cougars. I was amazed as over 80,000 people piled into the stadium to support the team they loved. (By the way, that team had Brady Quinn, Jeff Samardzija and Julius Jones, and still had a rough year). At the beginning of the game the fans in the stands put their arms around their neighbors and the entire stadium swayed back and forth together. They couldn't wait for their team to take the field.
As impressive as that was to see, BYU vs. SDSU equaled that memory as Cougar fans came out by the thousands to cheer on their team. The stadium was electric; fans were loud on third down and helped maintain momentum by being a constant energy. As the season has progressed I have learned a lot about this current team. While they have gotten down, I don't believe they have given up. They are truly fighters. Thank you for not giving up on them!
This week the Cougars face their toughest challenge of the season. TCU is an all-around very talented team. They have the most seasoned and experienced quarterback in the country, a punishing and explosive running back, and the most dynamic receiver and returner in the league. Oh, and their defense is ranked #1 in the FBS; a difficult task for any team to handle.
Even considering those facts, if you ask anyone on the team if they feel like they can win, they will answer in the affirmative without hesitation. They know it will be tough and they will need some breaks, but they still believe.
In considering this game against the Horned Frogs, I began to be reminded of a similar scenario featuring a man who is no stranger to Cougar fans: Max Hall. Last Sunday, the Arizona Cardinals started former BYU signal-caller Max Hall vs. the New Orleans Saints. Let's just compare that game to BYU's current contest for a moment.
-the Cardinals started an undrafted rookie quarterback: BYU is starting a true freshman quarterback
-the Cardinals played the defending Super Bowl Champions: BYU plays the defending conference champions and the #3 ranked team in the country
-the Cardinals beat New Orleans 30-20: BYU.. yet to be determined.
Now, I am by no means suggesting that BYU will come away with an easy victory, but, for a win to be feasible, similar scenarios must unfold for the Cougars just like they did for the Cardinals.
First of all, the defense needs to show up "big time." And by show up, I mean they are going to have to create plays by causing turnovers. I might even go so far as to say that for BYU to win, the defense will have to score a touchdown; just like the Cardinals.
For those of you who didn't see the game, Arizona's defense created four turnovers and scored two touchdowns. I believe Coach Mendenhall has a bit more magic and inspiration up his sleeve.
Like the Cardinals, BYU will have to play possession football on offense, establish the running game, and run the clock. In short, BYU must "take it to the Max" in Fort Worth.