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PROVO - BYU will host UCF for the first time in program history on Friday, Sept. 23, with kickoff set for 6:05 p.m. MT. The game will be broadcast live from LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on ESPN, WatchESPN.com and KSL Radio 1160 AM, 102.7 FM and ksl.com.
- BYU (1-2) vs. UCF (2-1)
- Date: Friday Sept. 23, 2011
- Time: 6:05 p.m. MT
- Site: LaVell Edwards Stadium, Provo, Utah (64,045/Grass)
- TV: ESPN
- Radio: KSL Newsradio 102.7 FM/1160 AM and ksl.com
- Series Record: First meeting
- Kickoff Weather: Sunny, temps in the upper 70s
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
- BYU is facing its third school from the state of Florida in its first-ever matchup against UCF. BYU is 1-4 all-time against Florida schools overall with its lone home win against No. 1 Miami (FL) in 1990.
- BYU is looking to avoid back-to-back home games for the first time since dropping its last game in 2004 and home opener of 2005. The Cougars have not lost back- to-back home games on consecutive weekends since 2003 after losing to Stanford and Air Force.
- The Cougars have an overall record of 7-4 on Friday games dating back to 2000.
- The game features two of the best pass defenses in the country. UCF is first in the nation after allowing just 93.7 yards per game. BYU is 24th in the nation with a 168.7 ypg average.
The BYU receiver combination of freshman Ross Apo and sophomore Cody Hoffman have been the bright spots on the offensive side of the ball. Apo has scored a touchdown in each of the Cougars' first three games this season while Hoffman recorded a career- high 138 yards receiving on eight receptions last week versus Utah.
THE BYU-UCF SERIES
This will be the first game between BYU and UCF. The Cougars and Knights scheduled a home-and-home series beginning with this game. BYU will travel to Orlando in 2014 for the return game.
UCF AT THE NEXT LEVEL
Despite its relatively new presence in FBS college football, the Knights have been able to produce some top talent in the NFL. Notable names include two-time Pro Bowl Miami Dolphins wide receiver Brandon Marshall, three-time Pro Bowl quarterback Daunte Culpepper and two-time Super Bowl champion and four-time Pro Bowl cornerback Assante Samuel of the Philadelphia Eagles. UCF has 11 current NFL players.
BRING ON THE BCS
Since the start of the Bowl Championship Series in 1998, BYU has played at least two BCS-automatic qualifying teams every year. In 2011, the Cougars are playing four BCS schools this year in Ole Miss, Texas, Utah and Oregon State. Only two other seasons (2000 and 2003) has BYU played as many BCS teams. To start the 2011 season the Cougars play three of the four teams consecutively, opening with road games at Ole Miss and Texas before the home opener against Utah. Not since 1998 has BYU started a season against three BCS teams, when the Cougars lost to Alabama and Washington on the road and defeated Arizona State at home.
FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS
With BYU playing UCF on a Friday night, as well as Utah State and TCU later in the season, it is the most Friday night games the Cougars have played in the Bronco Mendenhall era. Under Coach Mendenhall, BYU is 2-1 on Friday night games, all coming against Utah State. This is also the first time under Mendenhall that the Cougars are playing back-to-back Friday night games, with Utah State coming after the Knights this week.
60 PERCENT OF THE TIME
Jake Heaps has completed 73 of 126 passes through three games of the 2011 season for a completion percentage of 58 percent. All-American BYU quarterbacks have always been accurate and Heaps will be in good company if he can get his percentage above 60. Ty Detmer, Steve Young, Jim McMahon, Steve Sarkisian and Robbie Bosco all had completion percentages above 60 for their BYU careers.
DON'T HASSLE THE HOFF
Wide receiver Cody Hoffman got involved with the passing game after catching just three passes for 20 yards in the first two games. Against Utah, Hoffman grabbed 8 balls for 138 yards to lead the team. He set a career mark for receptions and yards in a quarter, catching five balls for 98 yards in the first 15 minutes of play. Hoffman's catch total and yards for the game were also a career-high mark to add to a new career-high in kick returns as well with 8 returns and 139 yards, giving Hoffman 277 all- purpose yards, the sixth-best mark in BYU history. Hoffman is still looking for his first touchdown of 2011 after getting seven in 2010. With 1,228 all-purpose yards in his career, Hoffman passes Neil Balholm for 80th all-time at BYU. Just a sophomore, Hoffman will continue to move up the list.
RETURN FROM INJURY
After missing part of the Ole Miss game and the entire Texas game due to a concussion, senior linebacker Brandon Ogletree returned to the field against Utah. Ogletree led the Cougars in total tackles, with seven, including two solo and five assisted. Ogletree also helped the Cougars record a turnover in the first quarter after he recovered a fumble that was forced by fellow linebacker Uona Kaveinga.
FIRST HALF SUCCESS
For the second-consecutive game the BYU defense held the opponent's offense to seven points or less in the first half. BYU's defense did not allow a Utah touchdown until the waning moments of the first half when just 32 seconds remained on the clock. (Heaps' fumble was recovered in the end zone for a TD by Utah's defense)
BYU also forced two turnovers in the first half for the second-consecutive game. Against Texas, the BYU defense forced quarterback Garrett Gilbert into two early interceptions. In the game against Utah, the Cougar defense forced Jordan Wynn into one interception and forced one fumble.
30, 31, 32, 33 ... 46
With field goals of 30, 33, and 32 yards against Texas, respectively, sophomore kicker Justin Sorensen added to the only field goal of his career, a 31-yarder against Wyoming in 2008. In the third game of the 2011 season against Utah, Sorenson added his fifth career field goal, this one from a career best 46 yards. Coach Mendenhall Press Conference - UCF
*The following is a partial transcript from head coach Bronco Mendenhall's weekly press conference, including comments from wide receiver McKay Jacobson, defensive back Corby Eason and quarterback Jake Heaps.*Opening Comments:
I am looking forward to improving our football team and having a stronger showing than the previous against the University of Utah. I am looking forward to executing at a higher level, protecting the football at a higher level and I think those two things will make a difference. From what I have seen of Central Florida already they have an explosive quarterback and certainly are a capable football team. They are another difficult test.
With the restructuring of the offensive staff, is the process working and the results just aren't there?
I think it would be just that way. The results haven't shown yet. The day-to-day function of the organization and the way the players have responded, the way they are being treated and being coached, I am very comfortable with and at some point that is going to show on game day. It is certainly taking longer than the fans would like but I am confident it is going to happen. I like the decision and the results will be forthcoming.
Are you happy with Brandon Doman on the sideline versus the press box or will that change?
I don't intend to change it. Brandon will be given the choice to be wherever he feels most comfortable, wherever he thinks the team needs him and wherever he can be most effective. That isn't a decision I want to impose on him or one I wouldn't want imposed on myself. The bottom line is where can he help our football team the most and where can be most effective from. With his personality and his strengths I am comfortable with where he is.
With all of the conference realignment and leading to so-called "super conferences" are you worried about BYU being left out?
I haven't thought about being left out. I think the program is too strong with too much tradition and won too many games recently. I don't have too much control or say in how that will work.
Are you on board with playing a lot of Friday night games?
It certainly makes it difficult to prepare, but with this being the first year of independence some concessions have to be made to get the exposure we are hopeful for. Hopefully I can coach the team to a level that we are playing at a level high enough where the exposure really helps us.
What was the mood in the coaches' meeting this morning?
Monday mornings we start our staff meetings at 6 a.m. so the coaches are here before that. There was a lot of determination, a lot of resolve and a lot of diligence to help the program reach its potential at a faster rate than it currently is. I am confident that it will happen sooner rather than later.
What is the process of making changes to improve versus overreacting after a performance like last week?
It's a great perspective. If you could say that any one thing determined the outcome of the game, it would be seven turnovers. Even if you are a much better team than your opponent with seven turnovers you put the game at risk. If the teams are close, seven turnovers are very difficult to overcome. There is no one that is more urgent, or wants to the teams to perform at a higher level than I do or the coaching staff. When we learn to secure the football at a higher level, when we have some running game that can add balance to the passing game with it and when we play four quarters of dominant defense, that's when the team reaches its potential.
What have you seen so far from UCF?
I've seen two games as of this morning. They have a very, very talented quarterback with a unique system. They have option elements and some zone reads with the quarterback scrambling out of the pocket. The quarterback is a creative presence that makes things go. I haven't seen their defense yet but I just finished watching them beat Boston College so they are pretty good team.
Is the running game a concern now and what needs to change?
Yes it is. As there becomes increased emphasis placed on it eventually you want to see the results, either statistically or even signs that we are making progress. I haven't seen enough yet to say we are making progress in relation to the emphasis. I think the design has to be looked at first and foremost and what runs are we doing. And then we need to look at with whom are we doing it and in what situation. That needs to become clear. It has to fit into the offensive plan as to when those plays are called. Really, we haven't seen what the run game should look like in relation to the offense.
With two turnovers and trailing before the defense even took the field, does the defense have a reason to be frustrated with the offense?
The greatest thing that is happening right now, and I had the defense around me on one knee around me on a couple of occasions on Saturday, they are fiercely competitive and have a lot of resolve. They handled those sudden change situations very well. I had zero complaints with how they played other than the long run they gave up in the fourth quarter and the time they gave it up. I think they will continue to play well for a long time. They are supportive of the entire team and there is no place for anything other than support for their team.
How much can a loss like that and you don't respond well set the program back?
I think the second part; if we don't respond it can set us back. If we are able to respond and finish with a strong season, and with how many wins, certainly increases your chances. That is something I have to acknowledge as we prepare for UCF. The more wins we can get our first year of independence the better.
Wide receiver McKay Jacobson
Are you a guy that holds on to a game like Saturday for motivation or just moves on to the next?
I think in some senses you have to remember it to have something to respond to. With the performance we had it was just a horrible game all around and leaves a horrible taste in your mouth. At the end of the day that game is over and we have to focus on what we can do now and control, and that is preparing for our next game.
In past seasons how much as playing for a conference championship talked about at this point in the season and now what is it like?
Obviously this year is different being independent. We are still fighting and playing for many different goals.
What do you think will happen this week against the Knights?
We have to come out and prepare and get ready. We can learn what we can from what happened and have to respond as a team and get as ready as we can.
Defensive back Corby Eason
How do you think the team will respond after last week?
If we play BYU football we will be fine. If we can get the past behind us and just go on and work hard in practice and get prepared for this week. We play a good opponent so we just need to think about them.
Are you worried that the team looks like it hasn't put four quarters of football together?
Not really. It's like Coach Mendenhall has said, we just need to execute all four quarters. You can't slack off on anything and you have to keep working hard. We have to push ourselves even more in practice this week to improve playing good defense and good offense for a whole four quarters.
Quarterback Jake Heaps
What do you think about the offense and the performance right now?
I think we have a great opportunity to have an explosive offense we just haven't shown that yet. It is really frustrating as the quarterback of this team to not put our guys in that situation. It is tough but we are excited about the opportunity to come out and play another game and especially with a short week we can get over this a lot quicker. We have to perform as an offense and that's the bottom line if we are going to win games and be a good football team. I have to do better and perform the whole game.
How are things with you and Coach Doman and can a game like Saturday bring you closer?
You hope it can. If it tears you apart it's going to be a long season. Coach Doman and I had a good conversation and I think its going to grow us closer. It's not just us, it's our whole offense and we have to figure it out and put it all together. I have great confidence we will.