The last time BYU played a basketball game that counted (v. Oregon in the NCAA tournament back in March), head coach Dave Rose had nine roster players in uniform.
Friday night, as the Cougars open the regular season with Long Beach State at the Marriott Center, Rose will have dressed and ready for action 15 players, all of whom are scholarship or scholarship-committed players.
The sudden depth is an unusual luxury for Rose, who has decided against additional trimming of the roster for the time being. With Kyle Davis sitting out the season after transferring from Utah State, and Jamal Aytes out indefinitely following ankle surgery, only freshman Jordan Chatman is projected to redshirt, giving Rose 15 guys ready to roll.
PROVO — From Taysom Hill against Utah State to Jamaal Williams at Middle Tennessee, injuries have defined the last six weeks of BYU football. The depth and youth of the team has been in the spotlight with a focus on mistakes. After a four-game losing streak, the victory at Middle Tennessee and a bye week, the Cougars are confident in their personnel and itching to get back on the field.
Quarterback Christian Stewart now has the majority of the starts for BYU, and he believes in the guys he will have on the field with him, even if they aren’t the stars everyone expected on the field. Today he spoke about the absence of Jamaal Williams
“I feel like, yeah it hurts us big time,” Stewart said. “But at the same time, we have other guys who will step up and make big plays. I’m not too concerned about the loss. Obviously I want him out there, don’t get me wrong, but I know that Algie (Brown), Paul (Lasike), Adam (Hine), Nate (Carter), those guys are gonna step up big time this week."
PROVO — As the Cougars welcomed November in Tennessee two weeks ago, all they could think about was getting a win. After what seemed to be a never-ending October full of injury and woe, BYU needed a change … and fast. The defense seemed uncharacteristically uncertain, but it found the victory it was looking for against the Blue Raiders. Tuesday, defensive players said snapping that losing streak gave them some much-needed confidence as they prepare to host UNLV on Saturday.
“I think we kind of got our groove back having a win,” said sophomore defensive back Kai Nacua. “It felt good getting a win again, so I think everyone’s refocused and they know what we need to do … and just want to do a lot better than we were.”
The Cougars face a 2-8 Rebel team with a quarterback who’s comfortable on his feet. Defensive coordinator Nick Howell says containing UNLV’s quarterback will be key to a Cougar victory on Saturday.
PROVO — After breaking a four-game losing streak, the Cougars had a week to reboot and recover during their second bye week this season. Now one game away from bowl eligibility, both players and coaches expressed one goal as they welcome UNLV this week.
“After starting off 4-0 and pretty much starting from scratch when your starting quarterback goes down, then going 0-4 after the bye week … getting into the postseason would be really great for us,” said senior offensive lineman De’Ondre Wesley. “It would build the moral of this team for everything we worked so hard for in the offseason and in fall camp. To go to a bowl game would be pretty awesome.”
With Savannah State coming to Provo in two weeks, the Cougars are all but assured of a six-win season and an appearance at the Miami Beach Bowl in December, but senior wide receiver Jordan Leslie says the team is hungry to finish out with four straight wins.
For a third straight season and the 16th time in head coach Jen Rockwood's 20 seasons as head coach, the BYU women's soccer team is bound for the NCAA tournament.
The West Coast Conference-champion Cougars on Monday were drawn into a region with 2 seed North Carolina, and will open tourney play on Saturday at Colorado--the team which knocked BYU out of last season's NCAA tournament in the second round.
"I'm really excited about it," said Rockwood of her team's automatic bid and upcoming trip to Boulder. "You work all year to get to this point, and the girls had a great season. I'm anxious to go to Colorado; they're a good team."
PROVO — After an 82-64 win in their first exhibition game of the 2014-15 season over the Colorado School of Mines, the BYU basketball team continues its preseason preparation this Saturday night hosting the Seattle Pacific Falcons.
The big news heading into this week’s game is guard Kyle Collinsworth has been cleared to play following his recovery from an ACL injury he sustained towards the end of last season.
Head coach Dave Rose is excited to have Collinsworth back in the lineup, and Rose praised Collinsworth’s efforts that have led him to a quicker recovery than many initially anticipated at the time he suffered the injury.
BYU running back Jamaal Williams will miss the rest of the season after suffering multiple knee injuries in the Cougars 27-7 win at Middle Tennessee on Saturday.
"Significant injury," said head coach Bronco Mendenhall on Monday, when asked about Williams' status. "Surgery tomorrow, done for the year. It's severe and multiple. Significant and severe, is what I was told."
Williams left the game after taking hard hit to the lower body following a key third-down catch late in the third quarter. At the BYU sideline, a clearly distraught Williams reclined on the training table with his right knee on ice, a towel covering his head. A steady stream of teammates made their way to Williams' side as the game wound down.
PROVO — Despite a four-game skid, BYU football's offense has moved the ball well and continued putting points on the board, but there is plenty of room for improvement.
Offensive Coordinator Robert Anae spoke about fundamentals Wednesday, such as getting your helmet in the right place and gaining leverage on the line, but his main concern is efficiency.
“It was kind of the deal the other night where a lot was asked,” Anae said. “And we didn’t get going 'til later in the game. Inconsistent — we’ve got to focus on starting better, starting fast and being efficient when we hit the field.”
PROVO — Heading into this week’s matchup with Middle Tennessee, BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall is eager for this week’s game, seeing it as both an opportunity to get out of the losing skid and as an opportunity to claim a win at a very key time for his team and its season.
“I think first and foremost it’s how bad our coaches and team want to get out of the skid and want to improve, want to commit, want to execute, want to practice, and how hungry they are to put in the work to make that happen,” Mendenhall said during his weekly coach’s show.
Mendenhall said he likes the effort he’s seen from his players this week and is encouraged with the mindset they’re carrying and their will to execute this week as they take on the Blue Raiders.
PROVO — Coming off yet another disappointing defensive performance in a loss to Boise State last Friday, the Cougar defense knows all eyes are upon them this Saturday as BYU travel to Murfreesboro, Tennessee, to take on the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (5-3, 4-1 C-USA).
The Cougars also have seen their points-allowed-per-game average shoot up from 18.75 through the first four games to 40.75. While the losses and daunting defensive statistics may have the fans' moods down, the desire to play better and improve is still very evident in the BYU locker room.
“From the outside it might seem to some that the season is over, that these last games don’t mean anything, but to us they do,” said junior defensive captain Remington Peck. “We feel we can still have a positive season and end on a good note.”
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