Men's Football Blog

No Stars, No Problem

Feb 21, 2012 - Posted by Kenny Cox at 4:58 pm | Updated: February 22, 2012 10:53 am | Permalink

Inspired by SI.com's recent article on "two-star" players that are making noise in college football, we'll take a look at BYU's history with two-star or fewer athletes.

The article gave the nod to Riley Nelson and Cody Hoffman as two of the best two-star players heading into 2012. These are some other Cougar greats over the last 10 years who were two stars or fewer and ended up being better than their star-rating led on.

Max Hall
Hall led BYU to a 32-7 record, becoming BYU's winningest quarterback of all time. Hall transferred from Arizona State and racked up three consecutive 3,500-yard seasons, finishing his career with more completions (903), passing yards (11,365) and touchdowns (94) than any other Cougar signal caller not named Ty Detmer.

Dennis Pitta
Pitta wasn't even given a star-rating and walked on at BYU. The once lanky receiver bulked up and transformed himself into arguably one of the best pass-catching tight ends in NCAA history. Growing into a 6-foot-5, 247-pound consensus All-American, Pitta left BYU as the career leader in receptions (221) and third in receiving yards (2,901). He holds the NCAA record for most yards gained by a tight end.

Andrew George
The other half of what might be thought of as the best tight-end tandem in BYU history and one of the best in the NCAA is George. While his numbers weren't as prolific as Pitta, the near-identical 6-foot-5, 251-pound George was every bit as capable and will long be remembered for catching the game-winning touchdown in overtime against Utah in 2009.

Jordan Pendleton
Though often injury riddled, Pendleton was one of BYU's most ferocious defenders in recent memory. Originally coming in as a hard hitting safety, Pendleton grew into a fearsome outside linebacker and at 6-foot-3 and 238 pounds had a rare combination of size and speed. He burst onto the scene in BYU's 14-13 win over No. 3 Oklahoma in 2009 and had his best season as a sophomore.

Harvey Unga
In just three years, Unga became BYU's career leader in rushing yards with 3,455 on 696 attempts. As a freshman, Unga tallied 1,227 yards, a freshman record. Unga had three-straight 1,000 yard seasons and is one of only nine players to rush for at least 1,000 yards and have 1,000 yards receiving for a career.

Jan Jorgensen
Jorgensen played four-straight years for BYU and started all 52 games of his career, tied for a school record, helping the Cougars to a 43-9 record over that span. He set the Mountain West Conference record for career sacks and is second in school history.

Bryan Kehl
Currently an NFL player, Kehl was one of the most athletic Cougars to date. Kehl made plays all over the field for BYU and was an all-conference player in 2006 and 2007. He was drafted in the fourth round of the 2008 NFL Draft by the New York Giants.

Curtis Brown
Brown is currently BYU's career leader in all-purpose yards (4,996) and was the first Cougar to put together back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons on the ground. Brown became the school's career leader in rushing yards before Unga broke the record a few years later.

Jonny Harline
A first-team All-American by The Sporting News, ESPN, College Football News, CBSSportline and SI.com, Harline came from Ricks College and in two years caught 121 passes for 1,742 yards and 17 touchdowns. He is 20th on BYU's career receiving yards list and has a place in Cougar history for catching the game-winning touchdown from his knees to beat Utah in 2006.

*ratings based off of both Rivals.com and Scout.com

Reynolds, Fangupo invited to NFL Scouting Combine

Feb 09, 2012 - Posted by Kenny Cox at 1:38 pm | Permalink

Offensive lineman Matt Reynolds and defensive lineman Hebron Fangupo have been invited to the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine held Feb. 22-28 in Indianapolis.

Over 300 players were invited to the combine and all 32 NFL teams will be represented by coaches and scouts to evaluate potential draft picks. In 2011, BYU did not have any players invited to the combine but had three in both 2010 and 2009.

Reynolds, a 6-foot-6, 305-pounder played and started all 52 games of his BYU career. After deciding to return for his senior season, Reynolds was named team captain for a second time and was awarded numerous preseason honors (Outland Trophy Watch List, Lombardi Award Candidate, Lowe's Senior Class Award Nominee). Reynolds finished the season on the Phil Steele All-Independent First Team, Yahoo! Sports All-Independent Team, FBS All-Independent Team and was invited to East-West Shrine Game.

Fans will remember one of Reynolds most recent plays from the 2011 Armed Forces Bowl. After losing his helmet blocking earlier in the play, an unprotected Reynolds ran after a Tulsa defensive lineman chasing quarterback Riley Nelson, pancaking him to the ground, springing Nelson to make a touchdown throw across the field to Cody Hoffman, helping BYU to a 24-21 victory.

The Provo native was also named a freshman All-American by the Football Writers Association of America, Rivals.com, College Football News.com and Sports News. As a sophomore he was part of the College Football News All-Sophomore First Team and as a junior was named Phil Steele All-MWC First Team.

Fangupo, a 6-foot-1, 331-pound transfer from USC helped BYU to another 10-win season and was part of a No. 14 overall defense (312.9 yards allowed per game) and No. 19 in rushing yards allowed (112.08) ypg). Fangupo spent the 2009 and 2010 seasons with the Trojans before deciding to come to BYU for his senior year where he made an immediate impact, playing in all 13 games and starting 10.

Known as the strongest player on the squad, Fangupo is also versitale enough to play both nose tackle and defensive end, where he spent most of the 2011 season. He totaled 26 tackles, including six tackles for loss, good for third-best on the team.

Fangupo was named to the Phil Steele All-Independent Second Team and was an FBS All-Independent Honorable Mention.

To see the full list of invitees for the 2012 Combine CLICK HERE.

Hoffman named potential breakout player by ESPN.com

Feb 09, 2012 - Posted by Kenny Cox at 12:56 pm | Permalink

After putting together an impressive sophomore campaign, wide receiver Cody Hoffman was recently recognized as No. 2 on ESPN.com's list of top five potential breakout players at the wide receiver position for the 2012 season.

The Crescent City, Calif. product finished the 2011 season with 61 receptions for 943 yards and 10 touchdowns to lead the team in all major receiving categories. The ESPN.com article focuses on Hoffman's big-play ability, noting that in 2011 he had high marks in yards per reception (15.2), receptions per game (5.0), yards per attempt (10.1), vertical yards per attempt (12.1), which is productivity on passes thrown 11 or more yards downfield.

Hoffman recorded five games of 100 yards or more and caught multiple touchdowns in three games. He also set BYU single-season records in the return game, returning 36 kicks for 879 yards, including a 93-yard return for a touchdown.

To read more of ESPN.com's article featuring Hoffman and other standout wide receivers CLICK HERE.

Signing Day Recap

Feb 01, 2012 - Posted by Jordan Christiansen at 8:13 pm | Updated: February 2, 2012 4:28 pm | Permalink

BYU football and head coach Bronco Mendenhall finished a celebratory day today after welcoming 17 recruits to the Cougar program.

Coaches began the morning excited as fax after fax came in with each member of the 2012 class. As each recruit came in, Joe DuPaix, recruiting coordinator and running backs coach, taped the player's picture on the wall of the football offices as Mendenhall offered each a congratulatory phone call.

Later, Cougar Club members met in the Cougar Room at Edwards Stadium and via online video as Mendenhall reviewed the football program's accomplishments, then spoke on each recruit and missionaries returning to the team this season. DuPaix then expounded on each recruit before taking questions from the audience.

Meanwhile, Mendenhall next participated in a press conference with members of the media at the BYU Broadcast Building which was streamed live (and is available for on demand viewing) at byutvsports.com.

Ending the day, coaches Mendenhall and DuPaix, director of athletics Tom Holmoe, current players Riley Nelson and Brett Thompson and former Cougars and NFL players Chris Hoke (via phone), Bryan Kehl and David Nixon all gathered at the Broadcast Building to record interviews for a BYUtv Signing Day special.

Mendenhall and DuPaix described each player in detail, with a few personal insights such as Matt Hadley's mother serving great meals and Micah Hannemann's surfing expertise.

"It's a great day to celebrate this class and we're really excited about it," DuPaix said.

Coming on the show with a shorter head of hair ("I'm not a one-trick pony," Nelson said), the senior quarterback talked about the 2011 season and what it was like returning back to football from a mission, something Thompson is attempting to do after returning from the Kentucky Louisville Mission one month ago. Thompson last played in 2009 when he caught six receptions for 95 yards in 12 games.

Click here to watch a replay of the Signing Day Special.

Players will continue to lifting and conditioning with spring practice beginning March 5.   

Seniors, Others Honored at Annual Football Banquet

Jan 06, 2012 - Posted by Brett Pyne at 2:30 pm | Updated: January 6, 2012 7:15 pm | Permalink

PROVO, Utah - The BYU football team honored its 2011 season senior class along with former player Chad Lewis and longtime football secretary Shirley Johnson at the annual Senior Tribute Banquet on Thursday.

 

Each honored with a personal video tribute, a total of 18 seniors were presented with a framed jersey and their BYU helmet, with one side of the helmet maintaining the camouflage look worn in the team’s 24-21 Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl victory over Tulsa.

 

The seniors spotlighted included center Terence Brown, running back JJ Di Luigi, cornerback Corby Eason, tight end Matt Edwards, defensive end Hebron Fangupo, outside linebacker Jameson Frazier, receiver Spencer Hafoka, receiver McKay Jacobson, running back Bryan Kariya, middle linebacker Aveni Leung-Wai, receiver/holder Matt Marshall, outside linebacker Jordan Pendleton, defensive end Matt Putnam, offensive tackle Matt Reynolds, safety Steven Thomas, offensive guard Marco Thorson, safety Travis Uale and outside linebacker Jadon Wagner.

 

Head Coach Bronco Mendenhall also took time to recognize the many players who have already graduated as well as the contributions of the team’s four senior captains: Matt Reynolds, Bryan Kariya, Jameson Frazier and Travis Uale.

 

Mendenhall spoke of each captain’s path to BYU and said it was no accident the team was successful as each of the captains provided leadership in their own way to help the team to a 10-3 season and fifth bowl victory in the last six years. With their bowl victory in Dallas, the Cougars became one of only six programs in the nation to achieve five double-digit victory seasons in the last six years, joining Virginia Tech, Boise State, Ohio State, Oklahoma and TCU.

 

Each of the captains took time to address their teammates and share heartfelt feelings. All spoke of how they will miss the association of being part of the team next year as their teammates prepare for the 2012 season. 

 

Reynolds, who is expected to move on to the NFL as one of the nation’s best offensive linemen, said he had no words that could adequately express how much he appreciates his experience at BYU. “I’m honored to have played here and been part of the brotherhood of BYU football,” Reynolds said.

 

Hall of Fame coach LaVell Edwards presented former BYU All-American and NFL Pro Bowl tight end Chad Lewis with the Distinguished Alumni Award. Lewis currently works in the Athletic Department as the associate athletic director for development.

 

Edwards also spoke on behalf of the football program to honor football secretary Shirley Johnson, who first joined the program under Edwards and just completed her 32nd season overall with the program.

 

Event emcee and former player Alema Harrington spoke highly of Shirley while representing the many former Cougars she has helped influence over the years.

 

Mendenhall thanked all those who contribute their talents to the program and specifically expressed appreciation to LaVell Edwards for his continued participation and support.  He also shared his appreciation for the many successes, both on and off the field, of the quality young men that make up the team.

 

“As a dad, it’s a great experience to have my boys be around players in our program,” Mendenhall expressed. “They look up to you and want to be like you. It’s a real blessing in my and Holly’s life.”

Armed Forces Bowl Press Conference Transcript

Dec 29, 2011 - Posted by Kenny Cox at 3:21 pm | Updated: December 29, 2011 3:25 pm | Permalink
The following is a transcript from this morning's press conference in preparation for the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl including comments from head coach Bronco Mendenhall, Tulsa head coach Bill Blankenship and bowl executive director Brant Ringler.
 
TIM SIMMONS:  Good morning, everyone.  I'm Tim Simmons.  I handle the media operations for the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl.  Glad to have you here for our ninth annual press conference. With us today is Brant Ringler, the executive director, his third year as executive director, and eighth year overall with the bowl. Without further ado, Brant, just kind of give us a state of the bowl. 
 
BRANT RINGLER:  I want to say thank you for everyone being here today.  I want to thank you, Tim, for the great job you do. I'm happy this year for the Ninth Annual Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl to have these two great teams, BYU Cougars and the Tulsa Golden Hurricane. 
 
This game has been in the works for quite some time.  We signed BYU back in April when we worked with the athletic director.  It was a winwin situation from the beginning, the fact they were looking for a home to play a bowl game should they qualify with six wins and the fact that the Mountain West Conference was released due to them having one less team. 
 
We wanted to be good partners with the Mountain West Conference, so we said we like the opportunity with BYU, since we're owned by ESPN, and they just signed a deal with BYU for television.  It was a winwin for us to go out and sign BYU, hope they would get their six wins. 
 
They did do that.  Very pleased with the record that they had this year.  I went to several of their games.  It was great to see their fans turn out for it.  We expect that tomorrow. 
 
On the other side of the ball, we had to wait a little longer.  We thought it was going to come down to Tulsa and Houston, like it did.  Tulsa had a phenomenal year.  We know the teams they played.  They're not afraid of anybody.  We know they're going to come and play hard and give BYU a great game. 
 
They have a great offense, just like BYU does.  I feel like defensively they're quite even, as well.  I always say Vegas is who you need to look at when you look at the team matchups.  When he had came out with a line that says 'pick  'em' you can't get any closer on a matchup like that.  We're quite excited. 
 
As far as the rest of the bowl game, our slogan is 'We're More Than a Bowl Game.'  You might ask us why.  You'll see that tomorrow.  We're here to pay tribute to the military, to all the men and women that have served our nation and worn the cloth of our nation. 
 
We have events in the morning.  Armed Forces Adventure Area, Military FanFest, displays from all the military branches.  Free to the public.  Pregame concert going on as well.  Actually our pregame, make sure everyone is in the stadium by 10:30 because we'll have jump teams going on, multiple flyovers, Texas State Guard on hand to unfurl the flag, 36th Infantry band out of Austin that just returned from the Middle East to do our national anthem and all the branch songs.  We have a national anthem singer from the band as well.  That's just the pregame. 
 
Ingame we have a lot of other stuff going on as well.  We have an induction ceremony, the Great American Patriot Award recipient, Salvatore Giunta, one of only three Medal of Honor recipients since the global war on terror.  The first recipient of the Medal of Honor since Vietnam as well. 
 
We have 50 wounded warriors to be honored and we are going to give away two quartermilliondollarplus homes during the game as well. 
In addition, following the game we'll have Gary Sinise and the Lieutenant Dan Band free to everybody.  We have quite a bit of logistics and military elements going on.  A couple helicopters landing inside the stadium, attack helicopters.  Fans can go look at them. 
 
I did have a question earlier about our trophy.  I do want to point out the trophy is very special.  There's no other trophy out there like it.  We always say we're 'More Than a Bowl Game'.  This is more than a trophy.  The elements from this trophy literally come from the battlefield in Iraq.  We took an Army tank shell from Fort Hood, melted that down into the trophy.  We took a Bell helicopter, took a piece off of that helicopter, melted it down into the trophy as well, shined it in the front. 
 
So this is a very unique trophy, no doubt about it.  I think it adds a special meaning to our game and definitely something teams should be proud of to put in their display case. 
 
TIM SIMMONS:  Next year is our 10th anniversary, going back to Fort Worth.  You have Navy and Army signed up for future years.  Conference USA is signed up for 2012. 
 
BRANT RINGLER:  As you know, we're playing at SMU this year.  Our second year in a row there due to the fact TCU stadium is under renovation.  It will be completed July of next year for their regular season and our bowl game to return. 
 
I'll make a clear point that Fort Worth is our home.  This is where the bowl game will be staying.  We look forward to returning to TCU. 
Future contract years we definitely have Conference USA the next two years to end our bowl agreement.  It's a fouryear cycle.  On the other side starting in 2013 we have Navy signed.  We have Army signed for 2014.  We have Navy signed again for 2016 and Army signed again for 2017.  We're very excited about it and look forward to it. 
 
TIM SIMMONS:  With the game at SMU, any hurdles that are different?  Been a pretty smooth transition. 
 
BRANT RINGLER:  The people at SMU have been fantastic.  Last year was their first bowl game as well.  We set their attendance stadium record last year.  The people there have been phenomenal to work with. 
 
As far as this year, I'd say there haven't been any major hiccups.  They're going to be ready for the game tomorrow. 
 
TIM SIMMONS:  We can take questions for Brant. 
 
Q.  More about the trophy.  Was it designed by military folks as well?  Was it put together by military folks?  Is this the first year this idea came about? 
 
BRANT RINGLER:  This is the second year.  Last year we introduced the trophy.  It was kind of unique the fact that Army won the game last year and all the majority of the elements for the trophy are in the Army.  It's rightfully sitting in their showcase up at the stadium. 
 
It was designed by our add agency, Concussion.  They've been working with us the last three or four years.  They do a phenomenal job on all our artwork.  They came up with the idea of molding this trophy and making it a large piece of what we do.  We're thankful to them. 
 
We did have input from Bell Helicopter, how you get items from the battlefield.  That's not the easiest thing because there's a whole different process for elements that have been destroyed on the battlefield.  We've gone through all that and here it sits today. 
 
TIM SIMMONS:  Thank you, Brant. Today we have Coach Bronco Mendenhall from Brigham Young University and from the University of Tulsa Bill Blankenship.  We'll ask each coach to make an opening statement, talk about their team and opponent and then we will open it up from Q&A from the floor. Coach Mendenhall, if you could make an opening statement and talk about your opponent tomorrow. 
 
COACH BRONCO MENDENHALL:  On behalf of BYU and our program, we've had an absolutely fantastic week.  Hospitality has been unreal.  Our players and their families have had a fantastic experience from being welcomed and being able to attend the Mavericks game, which our players loved.  The comedy show last night was a real hit with our players.  In general, we've been treated really, really well. 
 
You hope at the end of a season by the time you get to the end that your players can feel good about the type of year they've had and also be acknowledged for that. 
 
I think probably on behalf of both programs, we've had a fantastic week to this point.  Our hope is we can be an effective partner in playing a very good game and doing our part to give back to the hospitality we've received. 
 
Our football team has learned and grown throughout the course of the year.  I think we continue to improve.  I think we're anxious to play another game to get closer to our potential.  That's what I look forward to most. 
 
I'm really intrigued and excited about playing Tulsa.  You have two of the most winning programs in the country over the past five or six years and you have two teams with similar seasons.  The losses were against good teams, hardfought contests, and with records being very similar.  So I think both teams seek to find balance offensively. 
 
Both teams I think play solid defense, as well.  I think both teams will be hungry and motivated as most of the bowl games I've seen this year seem to be good matchups and came down to the end.  I wouldn't be surprised if that happens in our game. 
 
I'm not usually successful in predicting what type of game it will be, highscoring, lowscoring, in between, but I think it will be a competitive game with two hungry teams. 
 
We certainly have had our hands full in preparing for Tulsa on both sides of the ball.  Whoever wins the game I think it will be a significant victory against a good team and a good way to finish the year. 
 
TIM SIMMONS:  Coach Blankenship. 
 
COACH BILL BLANKENSHIP:  First of all, I will echo what Coach Mendenhall shared.  Fort Worth needs to be commended.  You have done a fabulous job of turning this into a bigtime bowl setting, everything from the hotel accommodations to the special events we've been a part of, bigtime.  Our players see and respect that.  It's been a very positive experience for us. 
 
It's what you hope for as coaches.  If you have a successful season and earn an opportunity to play in a bowl, that it would be that kind of an experience.  Again, I think Bell Helicopter and the Armed Forces folks that have put this on, they have made it really special. 
 
In terms of our season, it's fairly welldocumented we have four losses to four top10 teams.  The thing I like to focus on is the growth of our team from about the 1st of October on.  They showed some resilience, some toughness, really matured and grew together as a team.  That gave us an opportunity to have some success as the year went on. 
 
I think very similarly Bronco and I have both talked about this.  Our programs mirror each other in a lot of ways.  He enumerated some of those:  the losses to really good teams, nine wins and eight wins respectively.  I don't think that's anything to have to apologize for.  I feel like we've both been a part of consistent winning teams over the last five or six years that are in the top 15 or 20 in the country in terms of wins.  That's something that we're excited about. 
 
We're specifically very pleased to be playing BYU.  We think this is an opportunity for us to match up against a team with national notoriety, a team that's been a consistent winner.  We expect a hardfought, disciplined and physical football game. 
 
They have demonstrated to have great defense all year, been very consistent in playing good defense.  I think with the emergence of their quarterback in the last twothirds of the season they really began to take on a little more identity offensively.  But even with that, much like ourselves, are really a balanced offense. 
 
They run the ball well, they spread the ball out to several receivers, certainly have some goto guys.  I think it's a team concept and what we seek to do at Tulsa as well. 
 
I love the matchup.  I love the tiein.  We've talked about this again with the Armed Forces.  We have wonderful sponsors and all that, but to be a part of something in the bowl season that can put a little more perspective on the reality of life and what folks are doing to give us the freedoms here in this great nation that we have. 
 
I'm excited that we're going to actually celebrate some different heroes during the game.  I hope that the guys wearing both sets of uniforms will do our part to honor that. 
 
TIM SIMMONS:  Coach Mendenhall, you've had 27 days since your last game.  Has there been any player that has really developed during that time period, surprises in your preparation that has come to the forefront? 
 
COACH BRONCO MENDENHALL:  There is a routine that we've settled into in the postseason as we've matured.  Our approach is a little bit different.  We don't seek to maximize every practice.  We don't spend much time on young player development.  Really we follow a similar format as if we had a bye week. 
 
Doesn't give many chances to find new players, yet doesn't give many chances to say this player is gone during fall camp and here now in terms of young players. 
 
Really what we sought to do and seek to do in our bowl preparation is learn as much as we can about our opponent, get our players as healthy as possible, get them excited to play in the game, be anxious to run into each other, then hopefully develop consistency. 
 
I can't really address or say that there's been a player emerge or develop.  It's been consistently working on our execution and playing better than the time we played before and hope to continue to improve. 
 
TIM SIMMONS:  Coach Blankenship, this is your first bowl game as a head coach.  Have you changed any preparation for Tulsa? 
 
COACH BILL BLANKENSHIP:  It's all brandnew because it's my first trip.  But I'll be serious about it.  We've been very successful.  I had the opportunity to be with Coach Graham on his staff through three bowl trips that we were actually very successful in.  Won all three of those games.  We followed a very similar format in terms of our bowl preparation, much like Coach Mendenhall said. 
 
I think the key to this is getting your guys here healthy and hungry.  The tough thing about a fourweek stretch is they are wanting to hit, they are wanting to run into people, they are wanting to cut loose. 
 
Frankly, I think we're tired of practicing.  It's hard to practice for three weeks, four weeks, and not have that competition.  So there will be no secrets.  When you have 12 weeks of film to study an opponent, you're going to know them pretty well and they're going to know us pretty well.  So it really comes down to execution. 
 
We're going to try to execute very well.  If we can operate, that's what you call the time from getting out of the huddle or from lining up until the ball is snapped, if you can operate without what we see in a lot of these bowl games, a lot of penalties, if we can operate well, I think execution will follow. 
 
TIM SIMMONS:  What are the three keys for the Cougars to win the game? 
 
COACH BRONCO MENDENHALL:  I'm not sure the keys are different than what it takes to win any football game, especially against a very good opponent. 
 
I think field position always plays a giant role, which is normally tied to special teams.  If you're able to start with the ball closer to the goal line, you have a better chance to score.  I think in some of the games we have seen played already, that has played out very well. 
 
I think field position, more general football than anything else, because I'm not sure there's anything specific that I would change from our general approach.  So field position. 
 
Obviously the turnovers, holding onto the football.  In watching the Texas/Cal game, that had a lot to do with the outcome of that game.  After a fourweek stretch, you hope it stays the same as it was with the same emphasis during the season. 
 
I guess I'll put something in Tulsa specific.  I told coach I think a lot of their quarterback.  Hopefully being able to maybe limit, if possible, the success that he can have while really no one has been able to do that.  He has the capability of winning the football game I'm not going to say on his own but certainly can lead and do a lot of things that very few players can do.  So hopefully having an effective plan to be able to just do something to corral him a little bit. 
 
TIM SIMMONS:  Coach Blankenship, your three keys? 
 
COACH BILL BLANKENSHIP:  Again, the people from Tulsa will hear the same things over and over again because that's how you win football games. 
You have to take care of the football game.  Hopefully you can steal some possessions.  It comes down to a turnover battle.  That's the first place that I think there are keys to being able to win over and over again. 
 
Secondly, I think we need to be able to run the football.  That's a huge task.  This is a defense that's been very, very good against the run.  But for us to be successful overall offensively, I think we need to be able to run the football and to be able to stay balanced. 
 
Thirdly, I think we have to limit BYU's big plays.  If we can just make them snap the ball, it gives us a chance to stay in the game.  You don't want to give up plays over the top, big runs.  If we limit the explosives, take care of the football, establish some running in this game, I think we'll have a good chance to win. 
 
TIM SIMMONS:  We'll open it up for questions from the floor. 
 
Q.  Coach Mendenhall, talk about how your team has responded to football independence.  I'm assuming it's different without a conference to play for. 
 
COACH BRONCO MENDENHALL:  It's been quite a bit different.  There have been positives and there have been a few challenges.  From a positive
perspective, the exposure.  I think this will be our 11th game on ESPN this year which is a fantastic opportunity for people worldwide to watch us play.  So that's been phenomenal. 
 
You add that partnership with BYU TV, we're fortunate to have our own television network.  That's really provided access to church members and people worldwide.  So that part has been fantastic. 
 
It's been liberating to design our own schedule.  With that also comes the challenge of mid to lateseason games.  As we already know, probably for both schools, your chance to be in an automatic qualifying conference or a BCS only come if you're undefeated.  I think for our program and probably for Tulsa, when 9 or 10 wins and sometimes 11 is a successful season, at one point there will be a magical year where an undefeated season will get you into one of those games.  That has proven to be, through scheduling and going forward for independence, a little bit more difficult than what I thought it was going to be. 
 
In terms of our team, they really haven't focused much on conference affiliation.  I know when we've lost a game, their focus shifted from the chance to maybe be in a BCS game to just playing the very best football we can and win as many games as we could.  That's been a little bit different without a conference championship to fight for at the end of the season.  Not that they're less motivated, but it's something we acknowledged in saying, Now how good can we get? 
 
Q.  Talk about this bowl game, Coach Blankenship first, as a recruiting tool with local prospects here and also your place on the national stage for your recruiting program. 
 
COACH BILL BLANKENSHIP:  We think it's a big deal, first of all, to play postseason in one of our premiere recruiting areas.  When we designate the Tulsa footprint, we're going to try to own the state of Oklahoma, then we're going to be very active in east Texas and the Dallas metroplex.  That is where 80% to 90% of our recruiting class should come from that area.  Then we want to step out into about a gas tank away into the Houston area, St. Louis, Kansas City.  That should be where most of our kids come from. 
 
We've been very successful.  We have 20 plus young men on our roster that hail from the state of Texas.  Of them are from the metroplex.  When you have a young man that comes from a high school and he's successful, it's not as hard to get the next guy to come in, or at least to come from that area.  We've seen that in another recruiting areas. 
 
I think it's a big, big deal for our young men to be able to play close to home but also for potential recruits to get to see Tulsa in a bowl game in their backyard. 
 
COACH BRONCO MENDENHALL:  From our perspective, recruiting is quite a bit different than any other program in the country.  Really we organize our recruiting quite frankly around church membership.  Wherever the most church members are, those become our primary recruiting areas.  Texas happens to be one of those.  But there's five players on our team from Texas.  Not to the same emphasis at Tulsa's program. 
 
But for us, if there's a young man qualified and wants to be at BYU, one is enough.  If there are two or three or four or five, or maybe others that don't know much about BYU and what the standards are, et cetera, and learn about that through watching a good football game, what they hear the commentators say, there are a lot of kids that are socially conservative that hadn't considered BYU but might consider it now. 
 
Going back to the first question of independence, with our exposure this year, that has generated a lot more interest than what I expected, players finding us, whether they're members of the church or not, that has been positive in terms of exposure, where parents are calling us saying, We think we'd be a good fit. 
 
Q.  Coach Blankenship, bowl games and postgame weeks are fun.  Is it difficult to get the players to put that aside and say, We're going to play on Friday? 
 
COACH BILL BLANKENSHIP:  I think that's one of the jobs that's incumbent on us as coaches to keep that in front of our players.  I'm thankful of the staff we have and frankly the maturity of the leadership on our team.  The leadership, the older players, the guys that have played, they understand ultimately this is about a game. 
 
When we play games, they keep score.  It's a whole lot more fun at the end of the day when that score is in your favor. 
 
We're going to enjoy the week, the journey.  I think we've done a very good job of emphasizing that.  But for an hour and 45 minutes a day on the field, maybe an hour or so in meetings, our guys have been very focused.  I like the approach they've taken. 
 
I think they get that this is a dichotomy:  there's a trip here to enjoy but there's also a business trip and we need to be about our business as well. 
 
TIM SIMMONS:  Thank you. 

Visiting Cook Children's Hospital

Dec 28, 2011 - Posted by Kenny Cox at 5:21 pm | Updated: December 28, 2011 5:42 pm | Permalink
Taking a break from the field and game preparation, players from BYU and Tulsa visited Cook Children’s Hospital to visit some young patients and their families.
 
Several children in the hospital and their families, including patients with cancer, recovering from surgeries or other illnesses were thrilled to get personal visits from the team as well as BYU’s cheerleaders and Cosmo.
 
Players had a few hours of free time and several made the trip out to the hospital to spend their time with the kids.
 
"Coming to the hospital definitely helped set focus on what is most important and what we are trying to do," tight end Austin Holt said. "It means a lot to come out here and visit these kids that are sick or recovering. You don't have many opportunities to do that so it has definitely been a cool experience."
 
The children got to spend an hour or so chatting and taking pictures with players. Most of the kids even received gifts from the players as late Christmas presents of sort, including stuffed animals, posters and backpacks.
 
A visit like this one and other service opportunities often are the highlight for players during the many activities they get to do during the bowl week.

BYU Anxious To Get Back On The Field

Dec 28, 2011 - Posted by Kenny Cox at 4:59 pm | Updated: December 28, 2011 9:54 pm | Permalink
On a breezy, crisp afternoon, the BYU football team took to the field at Burleson Centennial High School for their last official practice in preparation for the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl.
 
BYU used up the afternoon with mostly team sessions, doing plenty of live work to get tuned up. The Cougars will conduct a final walk-through Thursday afternoon before facing Tulsa on Friday.
 
“The team has been consistent. The team has prepared really well, played well and practiced well, nothing really has changed,” head coach Bronco Mendenhall said. “We are playing a good opponent and one that is a great matchup. In terms of our preparation I’m very comfortable.”
 
 
The staple of BYU’s teams over the years have been high-powered offenses but this year’s team features one of its stingiest defenses in recent years. The Cougars are ranked No. 16 total defense along with the No. 8 pass efficiency defense, No. 21 rushing defense and No. 23 scoring defense. That defense will face a difficult test against a Tulsa team with explosive offense that ranks in the top 25 in several categories as well.
 
With a similar opponent and having an opportunity to win 10 games for the fourth time in ten years, BYU is anxious to get back onto the field for one more game.
 
“Everyone is really focused and really dialed in and ready to play,” linebacker Brandon Ogletree said. “I think the vibe from the team is we are really anxious to play. We know Tulsa is hungry and we are hungry too.”
 
Ogletree, a Texas native, has enjoyed being able to play close to home once again this year, closing out the season in his home state.
 
“This bowl has been awesome and top notch,” Ogletree said. “The atmosphere in Texas has been great and we couldn’t have asked for anything better. There is a lot of things you can do here you can’t in Provo.”
 
Former BYU wide receiver Margin Hooks was also visiting practice, offering words of wisdom for the current wide receivers. Hooks is from Waco, Texas and finished his BYU career with 189 receptions for 2,841 yards and 14 touchdowns. Hooks is fourth in career-receiving yards at BYU.
 
The Cougars will continue to enjoy more bowl game activities and conduct a walk-through practice on Thursday before kickoff on Friday, December 30.

Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl Goes Green

Dec 20, 2011 - Posted by at 12:43 pm | Permalink

This season the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl and ESPN are upping sustainability efforts to increase awareness and educate fans and participating teams about the steps necessary for a green future.

For the first time in the bowl’s history, ESPN will bring its “Green Team” to the event to help reduce the impact on the environment. The Green Team will be onsite all day in the bowl’s Armed Forces Adventure Area where fans can stop by to participate in interactive games for a chance to win eco-friendly prizes. The Armed Forces Adventure Area is located at the North end of Ford Stadium and is open to the general public beginning at 8 a.m. (CT) and immediately following the game until 5 p.m. 

“This is a great initiative that ESPN has started and we are very excited to have it as a part of this year’s Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl,” said Brant Ringler, the bowl’s executive director. “We pride ourselves on our event being ‘more than a bowl game,’ and this is just another worthwhile component to add to the fan experience.”

ESPN will give all credentialed guests will receive a lanyard made from 100% recycled plastic bottles and will provide 40 recycling bins to help with the collection of tailgate recyclables. Bins will also be placed in the press box and production compound to maximize recycling efforts.  Since 2010, ESPN’s “Green Team” has helped decrease the environmental impact at College GameDay sites and at select game locations.

The Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl will kick off on Friday, Dec. 30 at 11 a.m. (CT) in Dallas, Texas. The game will be televised on ESPN and ESPN Radio. Stadium tickets are still available for $60 per seat, and the bowl is also selling a limited number of premium club seats for $150 per ticket located in Ford Stadium’s indoor club section on the west side of the stadium. As part of the bowl’s tribute to the armed forces, military veterans receive discounted tickets at $30 per ticket and active-duty military personnel receive free admittance via the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl corporate military ticket underwriting program. Detailed ticket information for the 2011 Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl can be obtained through the bowl’s web site at www.ArmedForcesBowl.com

Owned and operated by ESPN Regional Television (ERT), the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl has featured a military theme since 2006. Patriotic overtones recognizing all five branches of the military are prevalent throughout the game. Past Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowls have included fan-fest areas showcasing military hardware; flyovers; demonstrations by several of the military's top skydiving teams; the awarding of a custom home to a wounded warrior; on-field induction ceremonies; military bands and honor guards; and the awarding of the annual "Great American Patriot Award" (GAPA) presented by Armed Forces Insurance. For additional information about the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl, please visit www.ArmedForcesBowl.comwww.Facebook.com/ArmedForcesBowl orwww.Twitter.com/ArmedForcesBowl

Bell Helicopter, a Textron Inc. company, joined the bowl on August 23, 2006, as the title sponsor of the postseason college football game formerly known as the PlainsCapital Fort Worth Bowl (2003-2004) and the Fort Worth Bowl (2005). The 2006 season marked the first year of the adoption of the “Armed Forces Bowl” name, making the official title the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl. Bell Helicopter has twice exercised its option for title sponsorship of the game. The current agreement was signed in September 2009 to continue the Sponsorship for the 2010 and 2011 games with a two-year option for 2012 and 2013. 

Road Warriors

Dec 12, 2011 - Posted by Kenny Cox at 4:42 pm | Permalink

With the bowl season upon us and some down time between games, here are some interesting thoughts to ponder in relation to BYU's performances away from LaVell Edwards Stadium in 2011.

It is always tough to play on the road. Tens of thousands of the opposing team's fans waiting to make noise and root against you is never easy. Head coach Bronco Mendenhall has always emphasized playing well at home, but equally important has been performing on the road as well. This year, BYU has been very good on the road in many statistical categories, while playing at home clearly has its advantages.

In a few categories, the Cougars actually have better numbers on the road than at home, but usually this isn't the case. This year's team is similar to many programs with the numbers dropping off when they head out on the road. However, in several categories, even though BYU's actual statistics get worse on the road its national ranking increases. This shows that while many teams typically have a drop off when playing on the road, the Cougars don't drop off as much and play pretty well on the road when compared to other teams across the nation.

BYU Home vs. Road Statistics
Statistic At Home Home Ranking On Road/Neutral Road Ranking
Points Scored/Gm 32.9 47 27.4 39
Points Allowed/Gm 18.2 32 23.2 23
Total Yards/Gm 428.0 43 386.8 41
Passing Yards/Gm 246.9 55 242.4 44
Rushing Yards/Gm 181.1 48 144.4 58
Total Yards Allowed/Gm 336.0 46 288.8 4
Pass Yards Allowed/Gm 196.3 43 200.4 27
Rushing Yards Allowed/Gm 139.7 46 88.4 4