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Kristin Murphy/Deseret News

BYU football team working on unity as Nebraska game nears

By Tanner Apeland, KSL.com Contributor | Posted - Aug. 31, 2015 at 10:10 p.m.



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PROVO — There may be a few unknowns as to what the Nebraska Cornhuskers' offensive scheme may be on Saturday at Memorial Stadium with new head coach Mike Riley and returning quarterback Tommy Armstrong, who has been compared to BYU's Taysom Hill.

However, the focus this week and a lot of fall camp for the BYU football team has not been on how to beat opponents but how to build chemistry and unity within the locker room in preparation to take on four of the top 40 ranked teams in the nation in the first month of the season.

Bronson Kaufusi, who was voted as a team captain along with quarterback Hill, has a lot of hope in his team.

"Entering this season there is a different feel than previous seasons. It's … team unity and excitement," Kaufusi said. "Everyone is united with the same goal. Everybody wants the same thing. There is a different level of confidence."

Mitch Mathews, who is expected to lead a deep group of receivers, says this is a special group of talent because of how many different rotations they can play in order to keep everybody fresh.

"We have a lot of depth, with no drop-offs," Mathews said. "We can compete with anybody, at any place, at any time … this is the best senior class I have ever seen."

Coach Bronco Mendenhall had a big grin when he announced that two walk-on players, running back Nate Carter, a 26-year-old running back, and wide receiver Mitchell Juergens have been awarded scholarships to the upcoming season.

"It's one of the coolest things I get to do as a coach," Mendenhall said. "I love when kids come without a scholarship and earn their scholarship. I think that's how life works."

Offensive lineman Ryker Mathews was thrilled with the news as well. He said the locker room went crazy when the coach made the announcement.

"It's so much better for the team in general when we know who deserves the scholarships," Mathews said. "When we know they have been working as hard as they could and putting everything into the team, it definitely helps us out and we have confidence in them that they are going to keep working that hard."

Mendenhall is not sure how Nebraska is going to play, both on offense and defense, but history against Oregon State, current Nebraska coach Mike Riley's former team, has taught him that it will not be an easy fight.

"They are really well coached. … I don't know Nebraska's personnel well enough, but I do know that their staff will put them in the right position for them to have success," Mendenhall said.

The players are excited, the coaches are prepared, and the fans are anxious.

"You grow up watching teams like Notre Dame and Nebraska play, and now we get to open the season playing one of those teams. This is a really exciting opportunity and I can't wait to take advantage of it," Kaufusi said.

Listen to audio from Monday's post-practice media availability from coach Mendenhall, Bronson Kaufusi and Ryker Mathews in the "Cougar Cuts" section below.

Tanner Apeland is a student at Brigham Young University studying business management. He is from Portland, Oregon, and hopes to find a profession that combines his passion of sports broadcasting and marketing.

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