Men's Football Blog | The Official Site of BYU Athletics

Men's Football Blog

Nelson to Start against San Jose State

Oct 07, 2011 - Posted by Jordan Christiansen at 5:35 pm | Permalink

BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall today announced that junior quarterback Riley Nelson will start against San Jose State on Saturday night.

"My decision to start Riley on Saturday is based on the productivity of our offense at the end of last week’s victory over Utah State," Mendenhall said. "After coming out of the game last week, Jake (Heaps) has responded very well with an excellent week of practice and he is eager for his next opportunity. I have confidence that both quarterbacks can lead this team.”

BYU hosts San Jose State Saturday night at 8:15 p.m. The homecoming game will be televised on ESPNU.

Football Notes and News

Oct 06, 2011 - Posted by Kenny Cox at 1:19 pm | Updated: October 6, 2011 1:23 pm | Permalink

A few notes from the team:

- This Saturday's game against San Jose State will be BYU's annual Breast Cancer Awareness Game. Players will wear pink athletic tape, sweatbands, towels and other athletic gear featuring pink to show their support.

- Walter Kahaiali'i has switched from the offensive line to the defensive line. Kahaiali'i, a 6-foot-3, 325-pound junior, played in four games this year and will now help out on a talented defensive front.

- Senior defensive end Matt Putnam has been cleared to play for the 2011 season. Putnam, who has played in 38 career games while starting nine in 2010, was ruled academically ineligible by BYU at the beginning of preseason camp, has finally been cleared to return to the field by the NCAA. Putnam has been working with the scout team since BYU cleared him last week as he awaited word from the NCAA.The Brigham City product could see some limited playing time as early as this week against San Jose State to get him up to speed.

- Marcus Mathews touchdown catch against Utah State was the first touchdown reception by a tight end since Dennis Pitta caught a 17-yard touchdown pass from Max Hall in the 2009 Maaco Bowl Las Vegas. That is a 17-game streak the tight ends were glad to see come to an end.

Up Close: Marco Thorson

Oct 05, 2011 - Posted by Ralph R. Zobell at 1:06 pm | Updated: October 6, 2011 10:15 am | Permalink

Take a closer look at senior offensive lineman Marco Thorson, as published in BYU-Utah State game program:

Nickname: Moose
Favorite cold cereal: Cinnamon Toast Crunch
Favorite Bronco Mendenhall Quote: “It’s a choice.”
Why did I choose to play football over other sports: too slow for anything else; no checkers scholarship.
Before a football game, I: nap.
How did I spend my off-season: I was Omer’s beach.
Who is the best player I’ve ever faced: Mania Brown.
What would I like to do sometime in my life is: catch a one-pound fish.
If I could play another position, what would it be:  Kicker.
One place I would like to visit:  Antarctica.
Who has had the greatest influence on my football career and why:  My parents, without them I couldn’t walk-on.
How did I select my jersey number: take what you can get.
What is my favorite hobby or activity away from football: desert riding.
If I had to give up all my possessions except one, what would be the one thing I kept and why: My motorcycle, it keeps me sane.
If I were on “Who Wants to be a Millionaire,” the person I’d call for my lifeline is:  My wife, she’d tell me to take the money and run.
People say I look like: a moose.
My favorite professor or most interesting class I’ve taken at BYU:  History of creativity.
My favorite scripture: Alma 29:1-2
My favorite website:
My advice to youngsters: have fun.
If I were hosting you on a recruiting visit to Provo, the most impressive thing I’d have to show you is: the stadium.
One rule I’d change in college football is: overtime.
If I could invite any people to dinner, who would they be: Anthony Bourdain, Steven Colbert, Brian Regan.

History of 4th Quarter Comebacks

Oct 04, 2011 - Posted by Jordan Christiansen at 1:11 pm | Updated: October 6, 2011 9:10 am | Permalink

When Riley Nelson's pass fell into the arms of Marcus Mathews for BYU's game-winning score against Utah State last Friday, this year's BYU football team accomplished a feat no other Cougar team has done since 1978.

The win was the second on the season for BYU after trailing by 10 points or more in the fourth quarter. Down 24-13, the Cougars claimed the 27-24 win four weeks after turning a 13-0 fourth quarter deficit to Ole Miss into a 14-13 victory. Not since BYU stunned New Mexico and Oregon 33 years ago has a team had two such comebacks in the same year.

In 1978 against the Lobos, a Marc Wilson-led team rallied after falling behind 16-6 and 23-20 in the final frame, pulling out a 27-23 win in Albuquerque. Cougar running back Scott Phillips capped off an 89-yard drive with a 4-yard touchdown run with 4:39 left in the game and the BYU defense forced a turnover on downs on the ensuing UNM possession for the final margin.

Similarities with BYU's win over Utah State abound in the 1978 squad's second comeback two weeks later, this time at Oregon. Like Utah State, Oregon had also seemed snakebit that season, with the loss to BYU its fourth in a row after leading in the fourth quarter. Also, BYU's comeback over the Ducks was orchestrated by the Cougars' backup quarterback at the time - Jim McMahon. McMahon, a sophomore, came on in the third quarter for Wilson with BYU down 16-3. Losing by the same score going into the fourth, McMahon threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Tod Thompson. After the defense forced a punt, BYU went 63 yards for the score on a 1-yard run by Doug Williams, earning the win after the Ducks' field goal attempt on the final play of the game fell short.

Other players of note on that 1978 team include future All-American Clay Brown; current head coach Bronco Mendenhall's brother, Mat; current linebacker Jameson Frazier's father, Danny and current Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid. The freshman roster included Tom Holmoe and Kyle Whittingham.

Before this season, BYU has come back from a deficit of 10 or more points in the fourth quarter just 11 times since 1977. Prior to the Ole Miss game, the last time BYU accomplished the feat was in 2006 against Utah. Down 24-14, the Cougars defeated the Utes 33-31 after John Beck's last-second throw to Jonny Harline. Other classic games among the 11 comebacks include 2001 vs. Utah, 1996 vs. Kansas State in the Cotton Bowl and 1980 vs. SMU in the Holiday Bowl (BYU's largest-ever fourth quarter comeback after trailing by 20 points).

In all, BYU has won 43 games after trailing in the fourth quarter since 1977. Seven have come under current head coach Bronco Mendenhall's tenure, including four 10+-point comebacks (New Mexico in 2005, Utah in 2006, Utah in 2007, Colorado State in 2008, Oklahoma in 2009, Ole Miss in 2011, Utah State in 2011).

Interestingly, one of two times BYU has had a program-record four fourth-quarter comebacks in a season came in the national championship year of 1984 when BYU had four, including the season opener against Pittsburgh and the season finale against Michigan in the Holiday Bowl. The other came in BYU's 12-2 season in 2001 when current offensive coordinator Brandon Doman was the Cougar quarterback.

Utah State has suffered the most fourth quarter defeats to the Cougars over the years - five in total (1981, 1983, 1997, 2002, 2011). BYU has also come back on Utah, New Mexico and Wyoming four times apiece with all four comebacks over Utah coming since 2001.

BYU's win over UCF was tied going into the fourth while the Cougars' loss at Texas was the opposite - a loss after taking a 16-10 lead into the final quarter. Will the Cougars keep going down to the wire?

UCF Supporters Thank Cougar Fans

Sep 29, 2011 - Posted by Jordan Christiansen at 1:18 pm | Permalink

BYU athletics, along with media covering BYU, received compliments on Cougar fans' hospitality following last Friday's 24-17 win over UCF in Provo.

UCFVideos tweeted twice about his visit to Provo, saying "#BYU has the classiest fanbase I have ever witnessed. Fans were friendly before and after the game. Folks in #Provo are pure class," along with "My wife enjoyed the trip. Said she would love to bring our kids out here. I told her UCF had only signed a 1 and 1 with BYU."

The BYU athletics video coordinator also passed along another word of thanks from UCF video services after conducting him through a tour of the BYU Broadcasting facility.

Today, Daily Herald sports editor Jared Lloyd included a letter in his article today that he received from a UCF fan following the game (read his article here). The Knights fan's comments read in part:

"My wife Robin and I both traveled from Orlando to Provo to watch the UCF-BYU football game....we wanted to let you know what a GREAT time we had during our trip. From the moment we arrived in Provo, everyone we met was friendly and expressed their appreciation that we had chosen to come visit their beautiful city. En route to the game, we were stopped numerous times by BYU attired fans welcoming us and wishing the Knights good luck in the game."

While we cheer on our Cougars and support them to the fullest, thanks also to all of you Cougar fans who also go out of your way to welcome those who visit BYU. As we welcome Utah State this weekend and those members of other programs later this season who have never experienced a game day at LaVell Edwards Stadium, lets continue to show the country why we have the best fans and are the best place to play in the country.

More on senior running back Bryan Kariya

Sep 29, 2011 - Posted by Kenny Cox at 10:56 am | Permalink

Senior running back Bryan Kariya has been named a candidate for the 2011 National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete Awards.

For more on the NFF and the Scholar-Athlete Awards CLICK HERE.

Kariya, from Salt Lake, has a 3.9 GPA and is a Chinese major with a minor in business management. He is second on the Cougars in rushing and in last week's 24-17 victory over UCF  led the team with 14 carries, 52 yards and one touchdown to go along with a pair of receptions for 11 yards. He is one of 47 FBS athletes selected as a candidate.

As a captain of the BYU football team, Kariya has been able to set an example of hard work on the field, accompanied with hard work in both the classroom and in the community. He has been a leader on BYU’s team for years. He is often the first voice heard at practice, on the field or from the sideline encouraging his teammates.

Other academic achievements include being named to the 2010 ESPN Academic All-America Second Team as the only FBS Division I running back on the All-America team. He was also named to the 2010 ESPN Academic All-District VIII First Team and is a two-time MWC Scholar-Athlete and three-time Academic All-Mountain West Conference honoree.

He has been involved with several projects in the community, including volunteering with the Boys and Girls Club and speaking to youth at church functions and schools. Kariya has been involved with “Koins For Kenya,” a program to help bring educational opportunities to those that have none. He and his wife traveled to Africa in 2005 to help with the program.

On the field, Kariya played a huge role in 2009’s game against No. 3 Oklahoma, playing for an injured Harvey Unga, and rushing for 42 yards while catching four passes for 76 yards, including a 49-yard reception. He had at least one carry in every game of 2010 and 11 games of 2009. He is currently second on the team in rushing for 2011.

Nominated by their schools, which are limited to one nominee each, candidates for the awards must be a senior or graduate student in their final year of eligibility, have a GPA of at least 3.2 on a 4.0 scale, have outstanding football ability as a first team player or significant contributor, and have demonstrated strong leadership and citizenship. The class is selected each year by the NFF Awards Committee, which is comprised of a nationally recognized group of media, College Football Hall of Famers and athletics administrators.

3.60 Average GPA
27 Nominees with a 3.9 GPA or better
6 Nominees with a perfect 4.0 GPA
86 Team Captains
56 All-Conference Picks
17 Academic All-America Selections
10 All-America Selections
27 Players (among all divisions) represented in this week's national top 25 polls
1 Player Formerly Named an NFF National High School Scholar-Athlete
47 Nominees from the Football Bowl Subdivision
33 Nominees from the Football Championship Subdivision
11 Nominees from the Division II
30 Nominees from the Division III
6 Nominees from the NAIA
61 Offensive Players
50 Defensive Players
16 Special Teams Players

A Look Inside the Indy Players of the Week Process

Sep 27, 2011 - Posted by Jordan Christiansen at 12:38 pm | Updated: October 10, 2011 3:15 pm | Permalink

The 2011 season marks the inaugural FBS Independent Player of the Week awards. But how are the weekly awards decided?

Once BYU football announced its move to go independent, a move was made to somehow recognize achievements among the four independent programs. When part of a conference, individual sports information departments submit nominations for each player in the offensive, defensive and special teams categories. Upon submission, a panel at conference headquarters then chose and announced the three players to be honored.

Without a conference a different process needed to occur. After speaking with Army, Navy and Notre Dame, it was decided that each school would recommend four media members to be part of a voting panel that would add two national writers who would vote on the three awards.

In the first four weeks of the award, all four schools have had at least one honoree, with Notre Dame leading the way with five awards. Notre Dame receiver Michael Floyd has claimed the offensive award twice, helping the Irish take offensive honors three of the first four weeks.

BYU has thus far earned four recognitions, including two by sophomore linebacker Kyle Van Noy for his play against Ole Miss and UCF, respectively. The Cougars' other two honors have both come on special teams - kicker Justin Sorensen in week two for going 3 of 3 on field goals at Texas and kick returner Cody Hoffman in week four for his 129 return yards including a 93-yard return for a touchdown against UCF.

Last season, BYU had six MWC Players of the Week, including Riley Stephenson twice during the season, linebacker Brandon Ogletree midway through the season and Luke Ashworth, Andrew Rich and Mitch Payne each recognized after the Cougars' win at Colorado State.

Up Close: Hebron Fangupo

Sep 26, 2011 - Posted by Ralph R. Zobell at 2:35 pm | Updated: September 26, 2011 2:37 pm | Permalink

Take a closer look at senior defensive lineman Hebron Fangupo, as published in BYU-Central Florida game program:

Nickname: Loni
Favorite cold cereal: Free cereal
Favorite Bronco Mendenhall Quote: “What if”
Why did I choose to play football over other sports: they have clothes and shoes my size.
Before a football game, I: get ready.
How did I spend my off-season: with my wife.
Who is the best player I’ve ever faced: Kristoffer O’Dowd (USC Center).
What would I like to do sometime in my life is: visit every temple with my wife.
If I could play another position, what would it be:  Quarterback, because you can sneak it every play.
How did I select my jersey number: only one available.
What is my favorite hobby or activity away from football: read with my wife.
What is the best book I’ve ever read: Missionary Handbook
People say I look like:  Hebron Fangupo
My favorite professor or most interesting class I’ve taken at BYU:  Book of Mormon class
My favorite scripture: John 15:13
My favorite website:
My advice to youngsters: Serve a mission.
If I were hosting you on a recruiting visit to Provo, the most impressive thing I’d have to show you is: the Temple.
One rule I’d change in college football is: off sides
If I could invite any people to dinner, who would they be: my beautiful wife Rebekah Lee Fangupo.

Friday Night Lights

Sep 20, 2011 - Posted by Kenny Cox at 5:24 pm | Permalink

The BYU football team is playing three Friday night games this season on ESPN. The first is coming up this weekend against UCF and the second is the following week against Utah State. The third Friday game is scheduled for October 28 against TCU, a neutral site game at Dallas Cowboys Stadium. Some have looked down at the Friday night games, with traditional college football being played on Saturdays. It also usually gives teams one less day to prepare. Head coach Bronco Mendenhall understands that while Friday night games might require harder work in preparation, they have their advantages.

"It certainly makes it difficult to prepare, but with this being the first year of independence some concessions have to be made to get the exposure we are hopeful for," Mendenhall said. "Hopefully I can coach the team to a level that we are playing at a level high enough where the exposure really helps us."

If you want exposure, Friday night games might be the way to get it. With one major college game scheduled each Friday night, all college football fan eyes will settle on that game. Several media members, college football analysts and even coaches and players will be in hotel rooms preparing for the next day's game and watch the Friday night ESPN game.

In fact, the Friday night primetime ESPN games this season between Baylor-TCU, Arizona State-Missouri and Boise-State Toledo have been averaging over 2 million viewers each game.

With possibly that many eyes on BYU each week, the Cougars are sure to gain more national exposure.


Pregame Fireside - Utah

Sep 19, 2011 - Posted by Jordan Christiansen at 11:05 am | Permalink

OREM, Utah - The BYU football team held its third pregame fireside of the season Friday evening at the Windsor Stake Center.

Head coach Bronco Mendenhall centered his remarks around 1 Nephi 10:19, "For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them by the power of the Holy Ghost, as well in these times as in times of old, and as well in times of old as in times ot come..." Mendenhall counseled those in attendance to continue to be "diligently seeking" truth and a testimony.

The fireside was highlighted by three musical numbers, including sophomore punter Brian Smith's rendition of the hymn "Be Still My Soul," accompanied on the piano by his mother. Senior defensive back Travis Uale, sophomore offensive lineman Manaaki Vaitai and junior offensive lineman Walter Kahaiali'i also sang a capella "When There's Love at Home." All players joined in the traditional singing of the primary song "We'll Bring the World His Truth."

Player speakers included junior deep snapper Reed Hornung. Hornung spoke of how his mother's counsel to "get in the car" when he wanted to quit football early in his high school career had since been an inspiration to him throughout his life. When experiencing trials on his mission, his mother again wrote "get in the car," telling him to once again move forward through hard times.

Senior wide receiver/holder Matt Marshall also spoke, describing his experiences of overcoming poor choices and growing as a person while playing football at BYU.