Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo

Healthy DB Bills ready for challenge of Boise State

By Sean Walker, KSL.com Contributor | Posted - Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 9:33pm



PROVO — When the Cougars found themselves in a shootout at Houston, it would have been natural to drift to thoughts of a gallant return for one of BYU's top defensive backs, Craig Bills.

But the Timpview High School product wasn't phased. He trusted his teammates to get the job done, and he had faith in them.

Besides, it was his call to sit out Oct. 19 at Reliant Stadium.

"It was all my decision. I passed all the tests, so they couldn't tell me that I couldn't go," Bills said after Tuesday's practice. "But throughout the week, my symptoms came back, and I didn't feel good. I talked to my family and my teammates, and felt that I shouldn't go."

Trust in his teammates didn't make the decision any easier.

"It was probably the hardest thing that I've done," Bills added. "It was hard not playing and being out there with those guys."

With the game plan shifting to a rare Friday night game against Boise State, Bills said he is ready to go and should start against the Broncos. BYU defensive coordinator Nick Howell will need every player he can get.

"Their offense is good," Howell said. "I love what they do, and I love watching those guys. It's creative, and it's really good. That's why they're good."

Grant Hedrick will start the game for the injured Joe Southwick for the Broncos, but Howell expects to see the same offense on the field, no matter who is calling the signals. It's an offense that has captivated the nation over the past decade, with large thanks to a bevy of trick plays, formation changes and ball-chucking wide receivers.

"As soon as they get to the 40 yard line, they stop looking normal and start looking creative with different formations, Wildcat, motion, gadget plays," Howell said. "If you're lined up wrong, you're going to get beat. If you look at the wrong place, you're going to get beat. So there's a tremendous amount of pressure, definitely."

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Don't expect Bills to take any plays off after missing nearly two games. The 6-foot-1 junior with 26 tackles and a recovered fumble on the year is ready to go hard.

"That's another reason I didn't play last week," he said. "I'm not the type of player who is going to go out there half-heartedly, or back down."

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BYU's offense set a school record with 115 plays against Houston, and lineman De'Ondre Wesley said it's evidence of massive improvement since the Cougars' early-season loss at Virginia.

"I feel like, since week one to now, we've grown and we are a whole lot better as a group," Wesley said. "We're getting faster, more in shape, we're learning things and figuring out how coach Anae and coach Tujague want to do it."

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Howell said the rash of injuries BYU saw during fall camp are coming along better than expect. Dallin Leavitt, Jordan Johnson and Trent Trammel are among those progressing well from early injuries and will likely be back in time for spring practices. Trammel would even be able to play in a bowl game, Howell predicted.

"He could probably play in the bowl game," he said, "but he's not going to with a redshirt year."

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You can find full audio interviews of Bills, Howell, Wesley and offensive lineman Brayden Kearsely in "Cougar Cuts," top left corner.

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Sean Walker is a KSL Newsradio BYU intern.

Sean Walker

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