Cougs' To Open Conference Play Against New Mexico

Cougs' To Open Conference Play Against New Mexico

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PROVO, Utah -- After coming up a bit shy against fourth-ranked USC last weekend, BYU will travel to Albuquerque on Saturday to take on New Mexico in the league-opener for both teams. Game time is slated for 6 p.m. (MDT) and will be broadcast locally on KSL-TV (Ch.5) by SportsWest. After falling at Texas Tech last weekend, 45-28, the Lobos are also 1-1 on the season. The Lobos stunned BYU at Edwards Stadium last season, winning their first game in Provo since 1971.

Saturday's game will mark the 53rd meeting between BYU and New Mexico. The Cougars lead the series, 38-13-1, dating back to the first-ever meeting in 1951 -- a 34-0 UNM victory. Despite losing to the Lobos in Provo last season (the Cougar's first loss to New Mexico at home since 1971), BYU has won 20 of the last 22 meetings, including four of the last five contests. BYU is 18-8-1 against New Mexico in Albuquerque, including a mark of 10-1 over the last 11 games at University Stadium. BYU hasn't lost in Albuquerque since 1997.

Saturday's game will be broadcast live by SportsWest on KSL-TV, Ch.5, beginning at 5 p.m. (PT). KSL's Tom Kirkland will call the action with former BYU quarterback Blaine Fowler lending game analysis. The game will also be broadcast on the Church Satellite System. Fans with access to ward or stake meeting houses with satellite capabilities can view the game, live, on the Church Satellite System.The Committee has specified that the games may be viewed in any room throughout the ward or stake building, excluding the chapel. The Audio-Visual Committee for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has specified that the games may be viewed in any room throughout the ward or stake building, excluding the chapel. Fans can also tune to KSL 1160-AM with the broadcast team of Greg Wrubell, Marc Lyons and Bill Riley.

Since 1972, BYU has registered a mark of 21-9-1 (.694) in league openers. When opening the conference season in Provo, the Cougars have posted a mark of 10-2 (.833) over that same span. On the road, BYU is

Saturday's game will mark the seventh time BYU and New Mexico have met in a league-opening game. The Cougars own a 6-1 record against the Lobos in those contests, dating back to 1977. The last time BYU and UNM met in a league-opener was 1996 -- a 17-14 BYU victory.

Senior defensive back Brandon Heaney suffered a season-ending shoulder injury against Georgia Tech. The injury is to the opposite shoulder he had surgically repaired after last season. Heaney is expected to have surgery this week on the injured shoulder and is likely to miss the remainder of the season. Running back Marcus Whalen suffered a foot injury against Georgia Tech and did not play against USC. He is questionable for the New Mexico game. Backup quarterback John Beck suffered a concussion against USC. He will not play against New Mexico. Junior Todd Mortensen will backup Matt Berry at quarterback. Reynaldo Brathwaite suffered a bruised sternum against the Trojans. He is expected to play against the Lobos.

After a team-leading eight receptions for 114 yards in the Cougars' 38-15 loss at fourth-ranked USC, redshirt freshman Daniel Coats currently ranks as the nation's top tight end, as well as the nation's top freshman receiver in both receptions per game and receiving yards per game. The 6-3, 249-pound tight end has averaged 7.0 receptions per contest and an average 103.5 yards per contest. Coats was named the MWC Offensive Player of the Week on Sept. 1 after helping the Cougars to a 24-13 season-opening victory over Georgia Tech. In his first collegiate game, Coats not only earned the starting assignment against Georgia Tech, he also led the entire team with six receptions for 93 yards. Coats, a graduate of Northridge HS in Layton, Utah, was also credited with a game-high two touchdown receptions and averaged 15.5 yards per reception -- the first freshman tight end in school history to record two TDs in a single game. With BYU trailing 3-0 with 5:07 remaining in the first quarter, facing a fourth-and-three from the Georgia Tech 38 yards line, sophomore QB Matt Berry found Coats over the top for a 38-yard, finger-tip touchdown catch -- his first, career reception. In the third quarter, trailing the Yellow Jackets 13-7, Berry hooked up with Coats for what would be the game-winning touchdown -- a 15-yard pass in the endzone to cap a seven-play, 80-yard drive to start the second half. In his second career start, Coats broke the 100-yard barrier, becoming the first BYU receiver to record 100 yards since Reno Mahe had eight receptions for 124 yards against UNLV last season. Coats's performance also marked the first 100-yard performance for a tight end since Doug Jolley racked up 177 yards on 10 receptions in 2001 against Air Force.

In only two games, freshman tight end Daniel Coats has already broken two freshman tight end records and is zeroing in on a third. In just two games, Coats has 207 yards receiving, breaking Chad Lewis' freshman record of 172 yards throughout the entire 1993 season. With three touchdown receptions on the season, Coats has also broken the old single-season freshman tight end record of two, set by both Kirk Tanner (1974) and Ralph Martini (1986). With 14 receptions on the season, Coats needs just two more to break Kirk Tanner's freshman tight end record of 16 receptions during the 1974 season.

After winning the time of possession battle for the second straight week, BYU is enjoying an average 10 minute and 20 second advantage in terms of time of possession. Against Georgia Tech, the Cougars dominated the clock, racking up an 18:12 advantage over the Yellow Jackets. At USC, the Cougars had the ball 2:30 longer than the Trojans.

With all eyes on the new-and-improved defense, the Cougars stepped up to the challenge against both USC and Georgia Tech. While the Yellow Jackets scored 13 points, the BYU defense did not allow a single touchdown. Against the Trojans, the Cougars held the fourth-ranked team in the nation to just seven first-half points. Overall, the BYU defense has recorded four shutout quarters, including two quarters against Georgia Tech and two quarters against USC. After giving up an average 384.7 yards per game in 2002, BYU held Georgia Tech to just 243 total yards and USC to 306 yards. A year ago, the BYU defense gave up 177.8 yards rushing and 206.9 yards passing per contest. Against Georgia Tech, the defense allowed just 96 yards rushing (an improvement of 81.8 yards over last season) and 147 yards passing (an improvement of 59.9 yards over last season.) Against the Trojans, the Cougars held USC to just 71 yards rushing and 235 yards passing.

The BYU offensive line, which includes three seniors and two freshmen, weighs in at a beefy 1,528 pounds, averaging 306 pounds per man. The O-line will be squaring off against a UNM defensive line (three seniors) that tips the scales at an average 275.7 pounds per man. On defense, the Cougars' line (two seniors and a junior) weighs in at 280.3 pounds per man, while the Lobo's offensive line (two seniors, one junior, one sophomore and one freshman) average 320.2 pounds per man.

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