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FORT COLLINS, COLO. -- Things couldn't have gone better for BYU this weekend in Fort Collins, Colo. as the Cougars simply overwhelmed Colorado State in a lopsided 49-10 victory over the Rams.
Both the offense and defense were firing all pistons and showed that this BYU team was different than the one two months ago. Head Coach Bronco Mendenhall was thoroughly pleased with the performance of the team, but was also quick to put things into perspective.
"When we watched their [Colorado State] film against San Diego State, we were preparing for a game like we played against San Diego State," Mendenhall said. "I wasn't sure how much improvement we made vs. UNLV, but this gives me a better idea that maybe we took a little bigger jump than I thought we might have."
It is hard to say who exactly took the larger step, the offense or defense. Both sides were making big plays, putting to rest questions about the youth and maturity of the team critics may still have.
True freshman quarterback Jake Heaps and senior wide receiver Luke Ashworth are prime examples of growth taken place. Their combined performance shows what results are possible with time and reps at practice. The two connected for four touchdowns in the first half, a BYU record. Heaps finished the day completing 15 of 20 passing attempts for 242 yards and no interceptions.
Heaps is quick to recognize the success as a team effort.
"Our offensive line hasn't given up a sack in two games," complimented Heaps. "My line plays great football. Those guys are the heart and soul of this offense. They're so fun to be around. You want to go out there with guys that will battle for you and they are complete warriors."
Ashworth, not surprisingly was the reception leader of the game with four catches for 113 yards and his four touchdowns doubled his season total.
"Jake had some really good throws and it was just a fun time being in the end-zone," Ashworth stated. "We had a good week in practice and I think it shows in the game just how well our week of practice was. We had a good game plan going in, just doing what Jake does which is throwing the ball."
Coach Mendenhall is excited with the progress Heaps and his receivers are making. Heaps is gaining confidence game to game and it is noticeable in his decision making, poise and throws and those early season drops by Ashworth and company seem to have diminished.
It seems the coaching staff also recognized the positive changes which gave them the confidence to open up the playbook, as evident by the 62-yard flea-flicker from Heaps to Ashworth that gave BYU its first score and set the tone for the rest of the game.
"You can see some real chemistry starting to develop in maybe the last two weeks especially, maybe the last three," Mendenhall observed. "It's good because it's starting to give us the balance again to be able to run and throw the football."
BYU defense continues to look stronger with each game. They caused four turnovers against CSU and scored their first points of the season. Linebacker Kyle Van Noy recovered a fumble forced by defensive back Corby Eason and returned the ball 45 yards for the score.
"It was just a good play. The ball happened to be on the turf, I picked it up and ran for the touchdown," said Van Noy who's gallop to the end zone looked more like a running back than a linebacker. "I'm just having a blast with my teammates. I don't think we're as dominate as everyone sees it yet, but the potential for us to be dominate is huge.
"We brought back the physicality. We're all trying to get that passion and when we all get it together it's a pretty great thing."