BYU defense doesn't want to repeat last season's bowl game

BYU defense doesn't want to repeat last season's bowl game

(Deseret News)

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PROVO — As the BYU Cougars approach their Miami Bowl contest versus the American Athletic Conference co-champion Memphis Tigers, the defense is looking to not repeat last year’s bowl experience.

After a loss in last year’s bowl game to Washington, the defensive players have stressed this week the importance of keeping the momentum going, not only in finishing this season out with a victory, but also in creating a chance to move forward into next season with momentum.

“I think last year there was a feeling of something that was left on the field and in the season, so we got a lot of hungry guys who want to finish the right way,” said sophomore linebacker Austin Heder.

In order to springboard the momentum into next year the defense will need to focus on stopping not only a team on a six-game winning streak, but a very dynamic style of offense as well.

Memphis head coach Justin Fuente is in his second season at the helm and previously he served as the offensive coordinator at TCU, BYU’s former Mountain West Conference opponent. BYU is familiar with Fuente’s dynamic style of offense that often consists of a lot of variations in formation and an emphasis of the run. Having played against Fuente before, many on the team feel the advantage is in their favor and the game plan is coming together nicely.

“I think our coaches have an equally or better game plan," Heder said. "They’ve seen TCU a lot and they know the scheme and so we’re confident in what they’re coaching us up."

Coming off a performance in which the defense closed out the regular-season against a high-powered passing attack from the Cal, the defense is hoping to continue in building progress and in finishing off the season right.

“We’re focusing a lot on getting our energy up and hyped for the game, not just letting this game go by like it’s another game of the season, it’s a bowl game,” said junior linebacker Teu Kautai. “We’ve been successful in the bowl games and that’s what we want to do is win."

Focus and energy are definitely a challenge this time of year with finals taking place this week and the holiday season and a trip to South Beach on the horizon, but BYU linebackers coach Paul Tidwell has been pleased with the efforts of the team.

“I think we’ve had good practices and the motivation to play hard (and) play well is there," he said. "I think they’re going to be focused. I think they understand we’re going to get a ninth win. I haven’t seen any lax players thinking this is going to be a fun vacation on Miami Beach. I think they’ve been pretty focused and practicing pretty hard.”

Senior defensive back and the team's leading tackler Skye PoVey sees this game as big opportunity for a team that had a four-game losing streak sandwiched in between two four-game winning streaks. The game is also big for him because it will be his last in a BYU uniform.

“I just want to go out with a bang,” said PoVey. “I just want to try to play the best game I have and just go out with a game I can look back on and be really proud of the way I prepared and the way I played.”

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Mitch Davis


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