PROVO — Coming off a bye week, it is clear that the time off was not wasted as BYU seeks to improve upon its No. 18 AP poll ranking and 4-0 record heading into Friday night’s game with in-state rival Utah State.
The BYU coaches and players all expressed that despite their early season success the season is still a long way from being over, with eight games still remaining, and there is still more this team must improve upon to achieve its ultimate goals.
This bye week may have come at the perfect time to provide some reflection and rededication as the team enters October, facing quality opponents both at home and on the road.
PROVO — No. 18 BYU knows that with an undefeated record, every time it steps on the field is crucial, and that is evident in the way it treated the bye week and practice on Monday morning.
“Was it a bye week?” asked running back Jamaal Williams. “It felt like we were still getting ready for another game. They kept us with the mindset of not being lazy or thinking this is a time off to relax. It was the opposite.”
That is exactly what head coach Bronco Mendenhall wants. He said this bye week was much different from others, that this team has the depth and the hunger to remain physical and demanding on the practice field.
PROVO — The BYU Cougars announced a four-game football series with UMass on Wednesday. The series will begin in 2016 and will be the first time that the two programs will meet in football.
BYU will host the Minutemen in Provo on Oct. 8, 2016 and Nov. 18, 2017. The Cougars will then play UMass at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, home of the New England Patriots, on Nov. 10, 2018, and Nov. 23, 2019.
By the time the first game is played in 2016, UMass will be a football independent just like BYU. That is something that appealed to Cougar Athletic Director Tom Holmoe.
PROVO — For the first time in six years, the BYU Cougars prepare for Game 5 with a perfect 4-0 record under their belts. The Cougars repaid Virginia for last year’s loss with a 41-33 victory over the Cavaliers Saturday at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
“Another good win for our program,” BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall said. “It’s nice to have a strong start to our season and timing for the bye week is good.”
Mendenhall said he was especially impressed with the efficiency of the offense and special teams this week, but that the defense could use a little polishing over the bye week.
PROVO ‐ Wednesday night on “BYU Football with Bronco Mendenhall" the BYU head coach gave insight into what has contributed to the early season success of the No. 21 Cougars (3-0) and how they need to carry that into their bout with Virginia at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
Mendenhall credits some key bench marks for last week’s 33-25 win against Houston, including scoring first, leading at halftime and scoring on defense. He pointed out BYU has never lost when they’ve had a defensive score. One concern against Houston was squandering the lead after a fast start, but more important, Mendenhall said, was the attitude the team showed despite the turn of events.
“Our team could’ve been frustrated, they could’ve been angry, they could’ve, but they just came in at halftime and you know we got this and finish strong," he said. "I like the mental resiliency.”
PROVO — The Cougars addressed the media one final time on Wednesday as they gear up for a rematch with Virginia this Saturday. BYU enters the game with a perfect 3-0 record, while the Cavaliers are riding the momentum of a 23-21 upset over then 21st ranked Louisville.
BYU fell to Virginia in Charlottesville last season in a devastating 19-16 loss, but the Cougars say this year will be different.
“This is going to be a great game,” said junior running back Jamaal Williams. “Last year, we weren’t all there. We were still trying to figure out who we are.”
PROVO — After some extra days of rest, following their 33-25 win last Thursday over the Houston Cougars, BYU is preparing for ACC opponent Virginia in what has become a potential turning-point type game for both teams’ seasons.
Last year, BYU fell in the season opener to Virginia 19-16 in a wet and wild game the Cougars, and their fans, would love to forget. Virginia was certainly a lesser opponent last year, finishing the season 2-10, and BYU left feeling as if it had let a win slip away.
Though redemption will certainly be a motivating factor heading into this year’s contest, the Cougars have a much tougher task ahead of them due to a much improved Virginia team.
PROVO — One year and two weeks ago on a rainy day in Charlottesville, Virginia, the Virginia Cavaliers beat BYU, 17-16, on Day One of the season, crushing the Cougars' anticipation for a great year.
BYU knows as an independent the only way to take advantage of a national stage and make noise is to win and keep winning. As the Cougars prepare to square off against Virginia Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at LaVell Edwards Stadium, once again they know this time is under much different circumstances and BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall relishes the opportunity.
“Really like that they're coming to Provo," he said. "I really like it this early in the season we have exposure already, we’re playing well and one more chance to show what our program is about.”
This week’s coach’s broadcast of "BYU Football with Bronco Mendenhall" welcomed in week three of Cougar football just days after the team’s dominating victory in Texas. The Cougars gave the Longhorns a 41-7 beat-down in Austin — a victory Mendenhall says came down to maturity, preparation and a really good quarterback.
Taysom Hill received a lot of national attention after his performance Saturday with 99 rushing and 181 passing yards. Because BYU’s independence status gives it more visibility on a national stage, Mendenhall said, “it’s hard for someone not to take notice.”
Mendenhall mentioned that because the program is so visible, it’s important for the team to perform well against big opponents like Texas.
PROVO — After last week’s 41-7 trouncing of Texas in Austin, the BYU Cougars have returned home for a short week of preparation before their home opener vs. Houston at LaVell Edwards Stadium this Thursday night.
BYU’s matchup with Texas started slow as the Cougars found themselves missing chances to capitalize and entered the half with what seemed like an under-achieving 6-0 lead. BYU, however, came out strong in the third quarter on both offense and defense.
Taysom Hill capped off the first drive of the second half with an impressive highlight-reel touchdown run, including a leap over a Texas defender for the game’s first touchdown, and it was all BYU from there. The offense went on to score three more times in the third quarter and added another touchdown in the fourth quarter to seal the victory.