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PROVO - BYU will host New Mexico State on Saturday, Nov. 19, with kickoff set for 8:15 p.m. MT. The game will be broadcast live from LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo, Utah, on ESPNU, WatchESPN.com and KSL Radio 1160 AM, 102.7 FM and ksl.com.
- BYU (7-3) vs. New Mexico State (4-6, 2-3 WAC)
- Date: Saturday Nov. 19, 2011
- Time: 8:15 p.m. MT
- Site: LaVell Edwards Stadium Provo, Utah
- TV: ESPNU, WatchESPN.com
- Radio: KSL Newsradio 102.7 FM/1160 AM and ksl.com
- Series Record: First Meeting
- Kickoff Weather: Snow flurries, temps in the upper 20s
This is the first meeting between the BYU Cougars and the New Mexico State Aggies.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
- BYU will honor 19 seniors this weekend at the game, including offensive lineman Terence Brown, running back JJ Di Luigi, defensive back Corby Eason, tight end Matt Edwards, defensive lineman Hebron Fangupo, linebacker Jameson Frazier, wide receiver Spencer Hafoka, wide receiver McKay Jacobson, running back Bryan Kariya, linebacker Aveni Leung-Wai, wide receiver/holder Matt Marshall, linebacker Jordan Pendleton, defensive lineman Matt Putnam, offensive lineman Matt Reynolds, defensive back Steven Thomas, offensive lineman Marco Thorson, safety Travis Uale, defensive lineman Simote Vea and linebacker Jadon Wagner.
- This is the first-ever matchup between the two schools and the third time this season BYU has played an opponent for the first time in program history after also facing Ole Miss and UCF earlier this year.
- Sophomore Jake Heaps will start at quarterback this weekend for the first time this season since Sept. 30 against Utah State after junior Riley Nelson was injured last week against Idaho. Heaps started the first five games of this season and last 10 games of the 2010 season as a true freshman.
- Under head coach Bronco Mendenhall, BYU has posted a 21-3 record in November with all three losses coming against Utah.
BYU has just two games this November, only the second season along with 2003 that BYU has played less than three November games since 1943. BYU has played just two games in November in only five of its previous 86 seasons (2003, 1942, 1931, 1928, 1925). The only time the Cougars won both games during those years was in 1925 with wins over Western State and Montana State.
WALKER KNOWS BYU
The Aggies head coach DeWayne Walker knows BYU as he worked under LaVell Edwards in 1994 as the Cougars' cornerbacks coach. He has also coached against BYU three times in his coaching career. Walker worked as UCLA's defensive coordinator from 2006-08. The Bruins played the Cougars three times during that stretch. UCLA defeated BYU in the 2007 regualar season 27-17 but BYU got back at them with a 17-16 win in the Las Vegas Bowl the same year. Walker's last trip to Provo wasn't a memorable one - the Cougars blasted UCLA 59-0 at LaVell Edwards Stadium in 2008.
BYU has been steadily improving throughout the season. After a low point in the season and struggling against Utah, the Cougars have seen a jump in their offensive output. After Utah, BYU was ranked 118th nationally in rushing with 48 yards per game, and now sit at 54th with 165.00 yards per game. After the UCF game the Cougars had the 111th ranked total offense with 291.3 yards per game. six games later BYU is ranked 54th at 398.9 yards per game. Scoring has also improved as well, going from 18.2 points per game to 28.4 points per game. With two more regular-season games to go, the Cougars will have plenty of opportunities to improve.
In its last six games, BYU has seen great balance from its passing and running game. The Cougars have 1,378 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns to go along with 1,397 passing yards and 15 touchdowns. In five of the six games, BYU has gone for at least 200 rushing yards and 200 passing yards. The Cougars had seven different players combine to rush for 243 yards and three touchdowns and Riley Nelson, Jake Heaps and James Lark combined to throw for 262 yards and three more touchdowns vs. Idaho. Against Idaho State, BYU ran for a season-high 290 yards and four touchdowns while adding 282 passing yards and three touchdowns. The week before against Oregon State BYU rolled up 282 yards on the ground and 217 in the air. Against San Jose State, BYU was even more balanced, rushing for 224 yards and throwing for 219 yards and vs. Utah State, the Cougars used 251 passing yards and 200 rushing yards to beat the Aggies.
THIRD DOWNS ... NOW AND THEN
BYU is currently ranked No. 7 in the nation in third-down conversions, converting 51.52 percent. At the end of September, BYU was 78th in third-down coversions, converting 38.86 percent. In September, the Cougars converted 30 of 77 third downs, while in October BYU converted 33 of 50 third downs, good for the best mark in the nation for the month. Against Idaho last week, BYU was 9 of 13 on third down to improve their mark even more.
HOFFMAN KEEPS IT GOING
Wide receiver Cody Hoffman continues his streak, catching at least one pass in 16-straight games. Hoffman snagged six passes for 114 yards and two
touchdowns, all in the first half against Idaho. He had four receptions for 67 yards vs. TCU. Against Idaho State he had five catches for 71 yards and two touchdowns. Hoffman set career-highs at Oregon State with 9 receptions for 162 yards. The redshirt sophomore caught four passes for 68 yards and one touchdown against Utah State. He grabbed three receptions for 24 yards against UCF. Hoffman finished with a team-high eight catches and 138 yards vs. Utah. He extends his streak to 16 games with at least one reception and 22 of 23 career games.
OH, HE PLAYS FOOTBALL, TOO
Running back Bryan Kariya has been an asset or the BYU ground game for the last several years. He has also been an asset in the classroom. Kariya was just named to the Capital One All-Academic District 8 Team. With a 3.9 GPA and a major in Chinese with a minor in business, Kariya plans to head out to dental school after his BYU career is over. Last season, Kariya was the only Division I running back named Academic All-American by ESPN. He doesn't have the most carries or the most yards but he constantly falls forward for extra yards and his a tough runner. Kariya has been extremely valuable in short yardage situations or when the Cougars need to find the end zone. Kariya actually leads the team in rushing touchdowns with four.
BEHIND ENEMY LINES
BYU continued its streak of recording at least 4.0 TFL to six games against Idaho. Four different Cougars combined to record 5.0 TFL and Kyle Van Noy led the way with 2.0 TFL in the game.
Idaho - 5.0
TCU - 4.0
Idaho State - 9.0
Oregon State - 7.0
San Jose State - 5.0
Utah State - 6.0
After playing four games on the road or at neutral sites, the BYU defense ranks seventh in total defense in the NCAA when away from home. The Cougars are allowing 286.3 yards per game when playing on the road and rank behind six teams that are currently ranked in the AP Top 25. BYU is also one of two non-BCS teams in road defense, along with No. 10 Boise State. Coach Mendenhall Weekly Press Conference - NMSU
The following is a partial transcript from head coach Bronco Mendenhall's weekly press conference including comments from offensive lineman Marco Thorson, defensive lineman Eathyn Manumaleuna, defensive back Preston Hadley and wide receiver McKay Jacobson.
My comments regarding the Idaho game aren't much different then what I said after the game in the press conference. I thought our teams played one of the most complete games, our special teams were stronger from start to finish than what they had been. I think our offense had a really nice balance. We played good defense and despite the loss of Riley early on, Jake came in and did a nice job in moving the football team and making good decisions. As we prepare now for New Mexico State and DeWayne Walker who has ties to BYU, having spent time here as an assistant coach. They are very explosive offensively with speed and athleticism at running back, receiver, and a mobile quarterback. New Mexico State has a wide-open style and up-tempo. Defensively they've struggled with managing points, but they in terms of their season a lot of games have been close. It will be an interesting match-up and an intriguing match-up and another one that fortunately for us is on ESPN. With that I'll take questions that anyone has regarding this weeks opponent or next weeks game.
Can we get an update on Mike Hague and Houston Reynolds? Is there any further evaluation on their injuries?
The latest update on Mike Hague was he had an AC separation. He is expected and has a chance to return and play this week, probably wont see him in practice or any kind of contact until Thursday, which will be necessary to keep the depth we need in the secondary. Regarding to Houston Reynolds, he has been playing with a torn labrum in his shoulder. His commitment has been and his hope has been that he could make it through the entire season before he gets surgery. There wasn't increased damage done, he was hurt and he took a shot too it and it was very, very painful so we'll have to let that subside a bit. It doesn't look like structurally there is anything that requires surgery immediately.
What is the latest on Riley?
The latest on Riley and I'm not sure what everyone knows to this point. There was basically what is called a multiple pneumothorax, which the severity of the blow hits you, so hard that air escapes the lung, goes into the body cavity and then the lung collapse, about 30 percent of the lung was collapsed. They put a tube in, sucked the air out so the lung can re-expand. He'll be released from the hospital today. There was also, from my understanding, two ribs that have been were broken or fractured up near the top. I think it's the second. There is a chance the Riley could return to play as early as Hawaii. They're listing a four-week recovery at this point, and that's plus or minus, so normally when they give those times it's conservative in nature. One of the issues will be, any time there is a lung injury with extended air travel that adds increased risk. He might be able to play but not make the trip because of the pressurization in the air cabin as he's flying, so that will be a decision that comes later.
So if he is healthy and cleared to play for the Hawaii game, would he be immediately go back into the starting role?
You played DeWayne Walker obviously for a few years when he was at UCLA, do you keep a friendship with him? Have you talked to him much over the past two or three years?
Maybe just once a year, either I'll just see him at the convention or in this particular year, we had just beaten Utah State and I received a text from him, then we were getting ready to play or had San Jose State coming up on our schedule and they had just played them, so he provided some insight into what he thought of San Jose, so there have been a few texts like that, have gone back and forth and that's really the extent of it. I would say our relationship is slightly more than professional, and more friendly than a lot of the coaches that I interact with. He's done a nice job. I think that with the remaining teams left, they have us on their schedule. I still believe they have Utah State, but the progress they're making, you can see it in athleticism and in talent. And the schemes are catching up to that, so whether this will be the breakthrough year or whether next year, you can see progress.
Is it harder to evaluate against a team like Idaho or a team like TCU?
Not necessarily. I have never really tried to manage that. I take into account of what I think of the opponent but when I look at the film from the game and grade our film and evaluate our team I am looking at the execution of each and every player. I am looking at the position mastery, the fundamentals and the effort regardless of who we play. We did take a step forward. It was a cleaner game that was played.
Are you getting tired of the late starts?
Late starts are not my favorite. However it is a trade off that I would make and make every time now in relation to the exposure. I didn't feel like that at one time. In the Mountain West we had a huge push to play when college football is supposed to be played and is Saturdays at 11 a.m. or 1 p.m. or etc. The feedback now from so many people having seen us play is I am willing to endure a long day to have people see us. They are hard.
Do you find it interesting that your running quarterback was hurt throwing the football?
It's not that he was just throwing it but that he was standing in there to the very last second with a guy bearing in on him. He see's him bearing in on him and throws it anyway and throws a touchdown. What is more ironic is that wasn't the play he was hurt on. He played about five plays afterwards. The touchdown pass that he was hit second on, he had been playing on it already. It was the first hit earlier he was hurt on.
Did anything appear a little bit dicey with getting updates and news on the injury to Riley?
No more so than after the initial evaluation because his pain threshold and his tolerance is so high trying to get an idea oh how hurt he was because he doesn't act hurt. When they pressed on his chest cavity that is when they could tell that there was air that had escaped from the long. That is when they took him to the hospital. They could tell just by pushing on it, it wasn't because he was in dire pain or anything.
How do you adjust the offense from a mobile quarterback to a pocket passer now?
It is an adjustment and there will have to be some things changed. Really the offense is similar enough that it's mostly just Riley's ability to scramble that makes it difficult. Not much but I couldn't give you a percentage of offense that would change with Jake rather than Riley, other than the scrambling ability. That will be the biggest difference.
Is this group of seniors all your recruits and how would you categorize them?
I think they are all mine with a few exceptions. They have helped us win a lot of football games. To have so many that have made it through the program from beginning to end that means a lot to me in terms of retention and identifying the right kids on the front end. My hope is as you visit with them after the season or even now what they say about their experience will matter a lot to me. Not by what they say but hopefully there experiences will have been positive and will be helpful as they transition into real life.
Is this a chance for Jake Heaps to regain some trust or anything with the team or coaches?
Jake has a great opportunity, and I am not sure it is a matter of trust, I think it is just a matter of continuing to play with I poise and maturity and increased confidence in leading our team. Jake much like Riley a year ago had the more difficult schedule to begin with. Now he has a chance to re-surge and I would expect to see him do it now after seeing him have an increased level of leadership, excitement, execution and to really demonstrate not only to the team but everyone around BYU football to remind them just how capable he really is.
Offensive Lineman Marco Thorson
What is the experience like on senior night?
It has been an emotional experience for the younger guys. You just kind of realize that you are one step closer to it being over and it goes so quick and it is over before you realize it. I think in years past my heart has gone out to seniors as they leave. We'll miss them on the team and we will miss their presence. I don't know what I will think when it is me.
Talk about the balance of the offense and the play of the offensive line?
I think we have taken on a role of being leaders on the team this season. Our focus has been at performing at high level, executing our assignments and doing what we are supposed to do. Each week no matter the outcome we watch the film and see things to improve on and that is why each game we have gotten better as a unit and as a group.
Defensive Lineman Eathyn Manumaleuna
What challenges on the defensive line when you face a running quarterback vs. a drop back passer?
With a running quarterback it chances quite a bit on our schemes and our blitzes. The assignments we get from Coach Mendenhall we can trust that his calls will help us with the plays no matter what kind of quarterback is back there. It is on us whether or not we want to be dominant in our assignments and execute well.
Defensive back Preston Hadley
What do you know about New Mexico State who scores a lot of point?
Not much at all really. If they score a lot of points it means we have to be sharper with our execution. We are hopefully going to just dictate what they do.
How do you feel with this being the last home game of the season?
I guess it hasn't hit me yet. Just thinking about it is kind of a shock about how fast the season has gone by. It has just been a giant blur. It's sad with it being the seniors' last home game and playing at LaVell Edwards Stadium. It is going to be hard not playing here for another year now.
Wide Receiver McKay Jacobson
Now being a senior, if you were to look back and tell yourself something as a freshman what would you say?
I would just say to keep working and be ready for opportunities. That is really all I can say. I have enjoyed my time here. I have three more games left. I would say look forward to enjoying each practice, each game and enjoying the whole experience.
Does your game change at all with Jake in at quarterback or with Riley?
With Riley you have to be aware that he might scramble or the play breaks down to be ready. With Jake the ball comes up on you faster than it normally would since he has a strong arm. Besides those two things I can't really think of anything else I do differently. You just have to go out there and play and be aware.