Estimated read time: 11-12 minutes
Fresh off a humbling loss to Nevada on Saturday, the Cougars (2-1) will take to the road for the second straight week, traveling to Georgia Tech on Saturday, Sept. 21. The game, which will be played at Tech's Bobby Dodd Stadium, is scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m. (EDT). The trip will mark only the Cougars' second trip to the state of Georgia, as well as the first-ever game against Georgia Tech. BYU last traveled to Georgia during the 1982 season, falling to the Georgia Bulldogs in Athens, 17-14. The Yellow Jackets will complete the home-and-home arrangement by traveling to Provo during the 2003 season.
Saturday's game will be broadcast live to a regional television audience on ABC, beginning at 3:30 p.m. (EDT). Tim Brandt will call the action, with Ed Cunningham lending color analysis. Sam Ryan-Herbst will report from the sidelines. The game will be broadcast locally on KTVX, Ch. 4. The game will also be broadcast to ABC affiliates in areas of Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, New Mexico, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina and North Carolina. For additional coverage information, fans should consult www.abcsports.com. Fans can also tune to KSL 1160-AM with Greg Wrubell calling the action and Marc Lyons lending expert analysis. Bill Riley will report from the sidelines.
The Cougars will depart Salt Lake City on Friday, Sept. 20 at 11:30 a.m. (MDT), arriving in Atlanta at approximately 5 p.m. (EDT). While in Atlanta, the team will stay at the Marriott Marquis. BYU will return to Provo via Champion Air immediately following the game.
BYU vs. THE ACC
Saturday's game will mark only the fifth game against a current Atlantic Coast Conference team. In previous meetings against teams from the ACC, BYU has posted a 1-3 record, including a 38-35 come-from-behind, overtime victory at Virginia in 2000. The Cougars lost to the Cavaliers in 1999 in Provo, and have twice fallen to Florida State (1991, 2000).
SCOUTING GEORGIA TECH
Like the Cougars, Georgia Tech will enter Saturday's game with a 2-1 record, losing its first game of the season last Saturday at Clemson, 24-19. After opening the season with a dominating home victory over Vanderbilt, the Yellow Jackets picked up a second straight win at UConn. Tony Hollings, who ranks fifth in the nation in rushing with 148.0 yards per game, has racked up 444 yards and eight touchdowns in his first the games after moving from the Tech secondary last spring. Behind Hollings and quarterback A.J. Suggs, the Yellow Jackets are averaging 31.7 points per game. Suggs has completed 69 percent of his passes this season, connecting on 36-of-58 attempts for 469 yards. Defensively, Georgia Tech is allowing just 13.7 points and 281.7 yards per game. The Yellow Jackets will look to All-American defensive end Greg Gathers, and linebackers Recardo Wimbush, Daryl Smith and free safety Jeremy Muyres to stop the BYU offense.
NATIONAL RANKING SHORT LIVED
Following the Cougars' 35-32 victory over Hawaii on Sept. 6, BYU climbed from among the unranked to No. 24 in last week's USA Today/ESPN Coaches' Poll. After a 31-28 loss at Nevada, the Cougars fell from the top-25. BYU has been ranked in the top-20 or top-25 polls in 23 of the last 27 seasons. The only years in which BYU has never been ranked during the season (since 1976) were 1978, 1987, 1998 and 2000. Last season BYU broke into the top-25 on Sept. 9, following a 44-16 win at Cal. The Cougars climbed as high as No. 7 in the USA Today/Coaches' Poll and No. 8 in the AP Top-25 poll.
GEORGIA TECH (GEORGIA) CONNECTION
BYU head coach Gary Crowton served as the co-offensive coordinator at Georgia Tech under head coach Bill Lewis during the 1994 season. Crowton was at Georgia Tech for only one season before taking over as the offensive coordinator at Louisiana Tech in 1995. BYU strength and conditioning coach, Jay Omer, served for eight seasons (1993-2000) as the Director of Player Development at Georgia Tech. Omer was named the Strength and Conditioning Professional of the Year for the Atlantic Coast Conference in 1997. As a teammate of Deion Sanders, BYU assistant coach Brian Mitchell played cornerback for the Atlanta Falcons from 1991-1993. Sophomore defensive back Micah Alba is from Marietta, Ga. Stretching it ... quarterback Bret Engemann and linebacker Mike tanner served an LDS Church mission to Boston, Mass. While in Boston, Engemann served under the direction of former Atlanta Brave's All-Star Dale Murphy. Defensive lineman Ryan Gunderson and receiver Pat Williams both served Church missions in Georgia.
TOO MUCH YELLOW
In the first three games of the season, the Cougars have been flagged a league-leading 37 times for 325 yards, including 13 times for 140 yards in Saturday's loss at Nevada. The Cougars are averaging 12.3 penalties for 108.3 yards per game. The school record for most yards penalized during a single season came during the 1980 campaign when the Cougars were flagged for 1,319 yards over 12 games.
WHAT A PAYNE
BYU kicker Matt Payne has been pulling double duty this season, serving as the Cougars' punter and kicker. Admitting he likes to punt more than kick, Payne unloaded for a total of 402 yards on seven punts in the Cougars' 31-28 loss at Nevada. Against the Wolfpack, Payne averaged a season-high 57.4 yards per punt. During the game, Payne was credited with a career-long 72 yard punt, surpassing his previous long by eight yards. Currently, Payne leads the Mountain West Conference and ranks second in the nation with a 50.06 per-game average. Payne leads the nation in net punting, averaging 47.41 yards per punt. In the kicking department, Payne is 1-for-3 on field goal attempts. He has not attempted a field goal in the Cougars' last two games. On PATs, Payne is 12-of-15 on the season.
HOME SWEET HOME
With a perfect 6-0 record in Provo last season, the Cougars have recorded 12 undefeated home season since the 1967 campaign. In fact, since the stadium was expanded to 65,000, the Cougars have posted eight different seasons without losing a game in Provo. The 2001 perfect home season marked the first since 1998.
HIT THE ROAD
Saturday's game will mark the second straight road game for the Cougars. Since hitting the road on Saturday, Sept. 14 (at Nevada), the Cougars will not return to the friendly confines of LaVell Edwards Stadium until Saturday, Oct. 19. During that stretch the Cougars play at Nevada, Georgia Tech, Utah State and Air Force. After an Oct. 19 home game against UNLV, the Cougars will take to the road yet again for a league game at Colorado State. Over a span of seven weeks, BYU will play just one home game.
THE STREAK IS STILL ALIVE ... 341 GAMES AND COUNTING
With Rod Wilkerson's 31-yard touchdown reception (from Bret Engemann) in the second quarter (vs. nevada), BYU extended its NCAA record streak to 341 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.
DRIVIN' THE DISTANCE
On Aug. 29, the Cougars drove 99 yards (vs. Syracuse) to set a BYU record for the longest scoring drive in school history. The drive, which lasted nine plays and took 2:59, was highlighted by a 58-yard run by sophomore running back Marcus Whalen. Against the Orangemen, the Cougars racked up drives of 99, 92, 80, 73 and 71 yards. Against Hawaii, the Cougars posted long-distance drives of 65, 80 and a game-high 95-yard, go-ahead touchdown drive in the third quarter. At Nevada, BYU posted its third 90-yard drive of the season, recording a 92-yard scoring march in just five plays. During the 2001 season, BYU produced 20 different 80-yard drives. In the first game of the 2002 season, the Cougars produced two 90-yard scoring drives, equaling last year's entire season total.
A WHALE OF A TALE
After redshirting the 2001 season, sophomore running back Marcus Whalen is doing his best to answer the question, "How will BYU deal with the loss of Doak Walker Award winner Luke Staley?" In the season-opener (vs. Syracuse), Whalen turned in 140 yards on 19 carries, averaging 7.4 yards per carry. Whalen was credited with a career-high 58-yard run to the goal line, then punched it in on the next play for his first TD of the season. Against Hawaii, Whalen was credited with a career-high 30 carries, racking up 141 yards and two more touchdowns. In the third game of the season, Whalen turned in 135 yards on only 14 carries, averaging 9.6 yards per carry. During the first quarter, Whalen broke loose for what appeared to be a 92-yard touchdown run, but was returned to the 21 yardline after a illegal block was called on the Cougars. Whalen was officially credited with a career-long 71 yard run. On the season, Whalen leads the MWC (ranks sixth nationally) with a 138.7 yards-per-game average, and ranks sixth in overall scoring, averaging 8.0 points per game. On pace to record over 1,664 yards on the season, Whalen would eclipse Staley's single-season rushing record of 1,596 yards. Saturday's game (at Nevada) marked Whalen's third 100-yard performance, which ranks 11th on BYU's all-time 100-yard rushing games list.
Of all the members of the BYU roster, 70 players have served a full-time, two-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (63.3 percent). Over 60 percent of those returned-missionaries, 60 percent speak a foreign language, including 23 players who speak Spanish as a second language. 96 players on this year's roster are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (87.3 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. The average of the Cougars' 22 starters is 22 years old.
PAPER OR PLASTIC
In the first game of the 2002 season (vs. Syracuse), the Cougars allowed just one sack, while producing three sacks against the Syracuse offense for a combined loss of 13 yards. Against Hawaii, the Cougars failed to produce a sack against the Warriors' run-n-shoot offense. Offensively, the physical offensive line allowed just one sack. In the Cougars' 31-28 loss at Reno, BYU produced a season-high five sacks. Sophomore Brady Poppinga lead the team with two sacks for a combined loss of 11 yards. The Cougars allowed just two sacks on the afternoon. Last season, the BYU offense gave up 24 sacks, averaging 1.8 sacks per game. Defensively, BYU recorded 25 sacks, averaging 1.9 sacks per game.This season, the Cougars are averaging 2.7 sacks per game, while allowing only 1.3 sacks per contest.
ENGEMANN BY THE NUMBERS
Nearly two years after being sidelined with a shoulder injury, junior quarterback Bret Engemann made his return to the field in the Cougars' season-opener against Syracuse. In his first start since Sept. 30, 2000, Engemann led BYU to a season-opening victory, recording three touchdown completions and running for another in the Cougars' 42-21 victory over Syracuse. Engemann completed a career-high 35-of-54 (.648) attempts for 386 yards, marking the second 300-yard game of his career. In his come-back performance against the Orangemen, Engemann was responsible for four touchdowns on the evening, including a career-high three TD completions and a three-yard run. The 6-foot-5 Provo, Utah, native started things off with an 11-for-15 (.733) performance in the first quarter, racking up 111 yards and a six-yard touchdown strike to Andrew Ord. In the second quarter, Engemann racked up another 105 yards, 10 more completions, and a two-yard pass to Toby Christensen to put the Cougars up 14-7. During the second quarter, he also engineered a school-record 99-yard scoring drive to give BYU a 21-7 lead with 4:53 remaining in the first half. After the half, Engemann kept up his blistering assault on the Syracuse defense, posting 12 more completions on 15 attempts (.800) for 80 more yards. After the Orangemen had tied the score at 21-21, Engemann led the Cougars on a 10-play, 92-yard drive and scored the go-ahead touchdown on a three-yard run. On the night, Engemann produced scoring drives of 99, 92, 80, 73 and 71 yards. Against Hawaii, Engemann racked up 26 yards on 21-of-46 attempts, including a touchdown pass to Toby Christensen. Trailing by 10 in the final minutes of the second quarter, Engemann got the Cougars on the board with an 11-play, 80-yard drive that ended with a 19-yard strike to Toby Christensen in the endzone. In the third game of the season, Engemann ran into a tough Nevada defense. Engemann completed just 6-of-16 attempts before turning things over to reserve QB Lance Pendleton in the second half. During the first half, Engemann found Andrew Ord for a 31-yard touchdown pass, marking his fifth TD pass of the season. Over three games, Engemann is 62-of-116 (.534) with just two interceptions.
MARGIN OF VICTORY
Throughout the 2001 season, the Cougars tallied 608 points, averaging a nation's best 46.8 points per game. BYU allowed 396 points, giving up an average 30.5 points per contest. Overall, the Cougars registered a +16.3-point margin of victory. The Cougars won four games on the season by 30 or more points, including a season-high 45-point win over Nevada on Sept. 1. The 2002 season got off to a similar start, with the Cougars posting 42 points on Syracuse. BYU outdistanced the Orangemen by 21 points. In the second game of the season, (vs. Hawaii), the Cougars held on for a three-point victory. The margin narrowed to just +7 after falling to Nevada, 31-28. In 2002, the Cougars have outscored their opponents by an average 35-28.