Estimated read time: 12-13 minutes
The defending MWC champions will kickoff the 2002 campaign on Thursday, Aug. 29 against Syracuse in Provo, beginning at 5:30 p.m. (MDT). The game will be broadcast to a national television audience on ESPN. The Cougars and Orangemen last met in Syracuse, N.Y. during the 2000 season. After starting quarterback Bret Engemann left the game with a season-ending shoulder injury, Syracuse cruised to a 42-14 victory in the Carrier Dome. The game will mark only the second meeting between the two schools.
Thursday's game will be broadcast to a national television audience on ESPN, beginning at 5:30 p.m. (MDT). Mike Tirico (a Syracuse alum) will call the action, with Lee Corso and Kirk Herbstreit lending color analysis. Dr. Jerry Punch will report on the action from the sidelines. The game will also be broadcast nationally on the Westwood One Radio Network. Dave Sims will call the action with Shea Walker adding expert analysis. Locally, fans can tune in to KSL 1160-AM. Greg Wrubell begins his second season as the play-by-play voice of the Cougars, and will be joined by his broadcast partner Marc Lyons. Bill Riley will report from the sidelines. The game will also be re-broadcast on Friday, Aug. 30 on both KBYU and BYU-TV, beginning at 7 p.m. (MDT).
BYU IN SEASON OPENERS
This year's season-opener (vs. Syracuse) will mark the third time in the past four years the Cougars have opened the season in Provo, including a 1999 victory against Washington (35-28) and a 2001 triumph over Tulane (70-35). Last year, Crowton's first season at BYU, the Cougars handed Tulane a 70-35 defeat, which marked the most points ever scored by a BYU team in a season-opening game. Overall, the Cougars are 46-28-2 (.618) in season-openers, dating back to the 1922 season. When playing in the season-opener in Provo, BYU has posted a 25-10-1 (.708) all-time record. This year's season-opener against Syracuse will mark the 23rd time the Cougars have started the season against a current BCS team. BYU is 10-11-1 all-time against teams from current BCS institutions. The Cougars have won three of their last four season-opening home games, including two straight wins (1999, 2001).
ANOTHER EARLY START
This year's season-opener, which will be played on Thursday, Aug. 29, will mark the sixth time the Cougars have opened the season during the month of August, including the third straight season. This year's game will mark the third time BYU has played a game on Aug. 29, posting a 1-1 record on this date. The earliest start in BYU football history came during the 1996 season when BYU defeated Texas A&M on Aug. 24. Last season's opener on Aug. 25th (vs. Tulane) marked the second earliest start in school history.
ENGEMANN TO START
Thursday's game will mark the first start for BYU quarterback Bret Engemann after suffering a season-ending shoulder injury against Syracuse on Sept. 30, 2000. Engemann left the game midway through the first half after the injury occurred, but came back during the next series to complete a short screen pass. After that play, Enegemann did not return. Following the game, Engemann underwent surgery to repair his damaged shoulder. The 6-foot-4, 238-pound Provo native redshirted the 2001 season, unable to compete for playing time. Interestingly, Engemann will switch from wearing No. 13 to No. 5 this season.
28 STRAIGHT WINNING SEASONS AND COUNTING
Following a 63-33 win over Air Force on Oct. 20, 2001, the Cougars claimed their 28th straight non-losing season. BYU has not had a losing campaign since posting a 5-6 mark in 1973-former head coach LaVell Edward's second season as head coach. The Cougars' streak of 28 straight seasons ranks 11th all-time at the NCAA Division I-A level and is currently the third longest non-losing streak in the nation. (Nebraska ranks No. 1 with 40 straight seasons without a losing campaign.)
COUGARS CLAIM SECOND MWC TITLE
BYU captured its second MWC championship in the past three years after a thrilling come-from-behind win (24-21) over Utah on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2001. The victory marked the first outright title for the Cougars since the 1996 season and became the first-ever MWC team to win the league title with a perfect 7-0 record. Since winning its first conference title in 1965, BYU has won a total of 21 league titles, including 10 straight championships from 1976-1985. Of the 21 conference titles, BYU has won the championship outright 13 times.
BYU AND THE NCAA
During the 2001 season, BYU averaged a nation-leading 46.8 points per game. That scoring average was the highest in the NCAA since Kansas State posted an average 48.0 points per game during the 1998 season. BYU also led the nation in total offense, averaging 542.9 yards per game. Junior running back Luke Staley led the nation with an average 15.45 points per game. Staley scored 28 TDs on the season, including 24 rushing touchdowns. Staley also ranked third with a 143.82 yards-per-game average.
* BYU will play at USC and Notre Dame in 2003. The Cougars' home schedule will include games against Boise State, Georgia Tech and Stanford.
* The Cougars will have as many as 15 of 22 starters returning for the 2003 season, including 10 defensive starters.
THE STREAK IS STILL ALIVE ... 337 GAMES AND COUNTING
With Dustin Rykert's 10-yard run in the Liberty Bowl, BYU extended its NCAA record streak to 337 games without being shutout. BYU was last shutout during the 1975 season (Sept. 27, 1975 vs. Arizona State.) The Cougars don't have a single person on their 2002 roster that was alive the last time BYU was shut out.
BYU BREAKS 12-YEAR-OLD NCAA RECORD
During the 2001 season, BYU racked up a total of 7,057 yards of total offense, becoming the first team to ever eclipse the 7,000-yard mark. The Cougars eclipsed a 12-year-old mark set by Houston during the 1989 season. The "other" Cougars posted 6,874 yards during the 1989 campaign.
A WINNING TRADITION
Over the past two decades, BYU has consistently ranked as one of the nation's top winning programs. During the 1990s, BYU ranked 16th nationally with an 86-39-2 record (.685). In the 80s, the Cougars won 102 of 128 games to rank third nationally. Since the 2000 season, BYU has posted an impressive 18-8 (.692) mark, including a 12-2 record during the 2001 campaign.
The BYU-JV squad will take on Dixie State College on Friday at LaVell Edwards Stadium. Game time is slated for 7 p.m. (MDT). Tickets are available for $5 each.
Since the NCAA instituted overtime in 1996, the Cougars have played four overtime games, posting a perfect 4-0 record. Of the 31 teams which have played four or more overtime games, the Cougars are the only team to post a perfect 4-0 record. Interestingly, the Cougars have never played an overtime game in Provo. Following is a list of BYU's four overtime games:
PRESEASON INJURY BUG BITES COUGARS
Even before the 2002 season began, the Cougars lost three players to season-ending injuries. Redshirt freshman C.J. AhYou was lost on the first day of Fall Camp, suffering a torn ACL. AhYou, who was slated to start at defensive end missed the majority of last season also with a torn ACL. Just under two weeks prior to the Cougars' season-opener, senior offensive tackle Ben Archibald was lost for the season after suffering a mid-shaft compound fracture. Archibald, an Outland Trophy and Lombardi Award candidate, is expected to apply for a sixth-year following the 2002 season. Reserve senior cornerback Todd Barker injured his surgically-repaired shoulder and will be unable to return for his final season at BYU.
GILFORD AMONG NATIONAL INTERCEPTION LEADERS
Cornerback Jernaro Gilford currently ranks 12th among active players with seven career interceptions. Louisville's Anthony Floyd leads with 17. Gilford recorded a career-high six interceptions last season, marking the most interceptions in a single season since Jason Walker picked off six in 1998. Gilford has been slowed by a knee injury and has not practiced during Fall Camp.
PAYBACKS ARE A ...
Since 1980, BYU has had 60 different opportunities to repay an opponent for a previous loss. When the Cougars face an opponent, having lost in the previous meeting, they have recorded a 39-21 (.650) record. Since Nov. 7, 1998, BYU has not lost to an opponent in a payback situation, posting a perfect 13-0 record. This season, the Cougars will face two opponents in payback opportunity games.
ROSTER BREAKDOWN -- A RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE
Of all the members of the BYU preseason roster, 70 players have served a full-time, two-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (63.3 percent). 96 players on this year's roster are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (87.27 percent). Interestingly, 43 different players are married (40.9 percent). Of the 43 married players, there are eight couples with children and five couples expecting children in the near future.Reserve offensive lineman Nake Mali leads the group with two children, while receiver Reno Mahe has a son and is expecting a daughter in November.
AMONG THE TOP
Over the past three seasons, BYU ranks as having the 18th best overall record with a combined 26-12 record (.884). Miami (Fla.) leads the group with a combined record of 32-5 (.865) during that span.
UNLUCKY No. 13
Many people have long been superstitious of the number 13. Starting quarterback Bret Engemann wore the number during his sophomore campaign before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury against Syracuse. He has switched to No. 5 this season. Interestingly, 13 days prior to the season-opener (against Syracuse), senior offensive lineman Ben Archibald suffered a season-ending compound fracture in his left leg.
CONSISTENTLY THE BEST IN THE MOUNTAIN WEST
In the three-year history of the Mountain West Conference, the Cougars have posted a 16-5 record against league opponents. The Cougars are tied with Colorado State for the best league record in the history of the MWC, however BYU has posted a 2-1 mark against Colorado State over the past three seasons, including a 56-34 win last season.
BACK IN BLUE
During the off-season, BYU head coach Gary Crowton announced the hiring of Utah assistant coach Steve Kaufusi. Kaufusi was hired to take over the Cougars' defensive line, replacing Tom Ramage who retired after 30 seasons at BYU. Kaufusi and his brother, Rich, were Cougar defensive linemen during the 80s. Four other Kaufusi brothers played (or are playing) at Utah.
With six home games during the 2002 season, and two other games within the state of Utah, the Cougars will play a total of eight games in Utah. With the exception of a non-conference battle at Georgia Tech, the Cougars will also play three other road games that will require a quick, one-hour flight. In fact, BYU will not stay in Reno the night before the game. The Cougars will stay at their home headquarters (Holiday Inn) in Provo, and travel to Reno the morning of the game.
WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO SATURDAY'S WARRIORS
Due to various scheduling issues surrounding the MWC's television contract with ESPN, as well as the Cougars' non-conference schedule, BYU will not play a Saturday home game until Oct. 19. The Cougars first two home games fall on a Thursday and Friday. After two home games, BYU takes to the road for four straight weeks and will not return back to Provo until Saturday, Oct. 19 (vs. UNLV). In addition to two non-Saturday home games, the Cougars also play on a Thursday night (at Colorado State) and on Friday (at Utah State). Overall, three of BYU's first five games will fall on either a Thursday or Friday.
COACHING; A FAMILY TRADITION
BYU safeties coach Barry Lamb is in his ninth season as a member of the coaching staff. Prior to coming to Provo, Lamb served as the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at San Diego State. Prior to his stint at SDSU, Lamb also coached at Idaho, UNLV, Arizona State and Oregon. His wife, Karen, was recently named the head women's volleyball coach at BYU, replacing Elaine Michaelis, who had coached the program for the past 40 years. Karen began her coaching career in 1978, serving as an assistant at BYU. After additional coaching experience at the high school and junior college ranks, Karen returned to the collegiate level with head coaching assignments at UNLV and Washington State.
IN THE TRENCHES
The BYU offensive line, which includes three seniors and two juniors, weighs in at a beefy 1,528 pounds, averaging 305.6 pounds per man. This season's offensive line weighs an average 9.8 pounds heavier per man. The O-line will be squaring off against a Syracuse defensive line (three juniors and one sophomore) that tips the scales at an average 281.75 pounds per man. On defense, the Cougars' line (one senior, two juniors and one sophomore) weighs in at 279 pounds per man, while the Orangemen offensive line (one senior, two juniors and two sophomores) average 304.2 pounds per man.
UP OR DOWN
During Thursday's game, the following personnel will be coaching from the sidelines: Gary Crowton (head coach), Robbie Bosco (quarterbacks), Lance Reynolds (offensive line), Ken Schmidt (linebackers), Steve Kaufusi (defensive line) and Brian Mitchell (cornerbacks) and Paul Tidwell (running backs). Mike Borich (wide receivers), Mike Empey (tight ends) and Barry Lamb (safeties) will be in the pressbox.
For the first time in recent memory, the Cougars switched from the east sideline to the west sideline for the 2001 season-opener against Tulane. The move proved to be successful. In 2002, BYU head coach Gary Crowton has announced he will switch sidelines for both the Syracuse and Hawaii games. The remainder of the 2002 schedule will be spent back on the east sidelines.
BYU's opponents for the 2002 season had a combined 70-70 record in 2001. Four of those teams, including Syracuse, Georgia Tech, Colorado State and Utah, recorded bowl game victories last season.
LOMBARDI WATCH LIST
Three BYU players were originally named to the preseason Rotary Lombardi Award watchlist, which annually honors college football's top lineman. Senior offensive lineman Ben Archibald was on the list, but due to a season-ending injury has been removed. His capable bookend, left tackle Dustin Rykert (6-foot-7, 315) is also a candidate for the Lombardi Award. Senior tight end Spencer Nead has also been listed as a candidate for the prestigious award.
MACKEY WATCH LIST
In addition to being named among those being considered for the Lombardi Award, senior tight end Spencer Nead has been listed as a candidate for the John Mackey Award, which honors the top tight end in the country. Nead is the Cougars' top returning tight end after recording 22 receptions for 266 yards as a junior last season. Nead averaged 12.1 yards per reception and scored five touchdowns.
written by BYU Athletic Media Relations