Men's Football Blog | 2011 | The Official Site of BYU Athletics

Men's Football Blog | 2011

Mr. October

Nov 04, 2011 - Posted by Kenny Cox at 2:09 pm | Updated: November 4, 2011 2:15 pm | Permalink

Quarterback Riley Nelson has been a spark and a star for BYU throughout the last month. Between his play on the field, his viral videos on featuring his hair or high-fiving antics, Nelson has been at the forefront of the BYU football team and provided a boost in the last month or so.

Nelson has led the Cougars to a 3-1 record since starting the last four games. The Logan, Utah native has helped an offense once ranked 103rd in total offense per game (323.2) after five games to 21st in the last four games (467.0) and 66th overall now (387.1). With the help of Nelson's legs, BYU's running game has drastically turned around as well. In the first five games the Cougars averaged just 94.4 yards per game and was 102nd in the country. In the last four games, BYU has averaged 233.75 yards per game, the 14th-ranked rushing offense over that span. The rushing attack has jumped nearly 40 spots to No. 63 with an average of 156.33 yards per game overall.

In his four starts during the month of October, the junior has put up some staggering numbers. Here is a breakdown of what Nelson accomplished last month, including his national ranking compared to others in the same month, playing the same amount of games.

Statistic National Ranking Actual Notable Players (ranked same or lower) Actual
QB Rating 18 157.47 Matt Barkley, USC              153.86
      Geno Smith, WV                 153.60
      Brandon Weeden, Ok St.    152.92
TD Passes 16 10 Robert Griffin III, Baylor       10
      Nick Foles, Ariz.                   10
      Russell Wilson, Wisc.          9
Yds/Att 14 8.9 yds Landry Jones, Okla.            8.9 yds
      AJ McCarron, Ala.                8.4 yds
      Kellen Moore, Boise St.       8.3 yds
QB Rush-Tot. yds 6 298 yds David Sims, Ga. Tech          288 yds
      Denard Robinson, Mich.      273 yds
QB Rush-Avg/Att 6 5.84 yds Jeff Godfrey, UCF                        5.70 yds
      Ryan Tannehill, Tex. A&M   5.59 yds

Di Luigi Does It All

Nov 02, 2011 - Posted by Kenny Cox at 3:26 pm | Updated: November 2, 2011 3:41 pm | Permalink

Senior running back JJ Di Luigi has been an incredibly versatile player for BYU throughout his career. At 5-foot-9, 185 pounds, Di Luigi has just the right size, speed and shiftiness to make him a weapon with the ball in his hands. For the 2011 season, the Canyon Country, Calif. product leads the Cougars in rushing with 81 carries for 415 yards and three touchdowns. He is also fourth on the team in receiving with 18 catches for 204 yards, including a team-best 57 yard reception.

In 2010, Di Luigi's 1,422 all-purpose yards were the 16th-best in BYU history. For his career, Di Luigi has 1,628 rushing yards, 920 receiving yards and 326 kickoff return yards, good for a total of 2,874 all-purpose yards.

Di Luigi is 19th all-time at BYU in all-purpose yards and is 12th in career rushing yards. He is in 64th in career-receiving yards. If Di Luigi can roll up 80 more receiving yards in his final year, he will be just the 10th player in BYU history with at least 1,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards for a career.

Not only does Di Luigi impress on the field, but CLICK HERE and check out his reporting skills in this clip from media day earlier in the year.

Here is how Di Luigi looks on the all-time lists and who he might pass in the coming weeks:

BYU Career All-Purpose Yards
1.   Brown, Curtis (2002-06)      4,996 yards
17. Hooks, Margin (1997-00)    2,929 yards
18. Pitta, Dennis (2004-09)       2,908 yards
19. Di Luigi, JJ (2008-)            2,874 yards

BYU Career Rushing Yards
1.   Unga, Harvey (2006-09)        3,455 yards
10. McKenzie, Brian (1996-97)    1,954 yards
11. Fortie, Eldon (1962-64)          1,666 yards
12. Di Luigi, JJ (2008-)               1,628 yards

BYU Career Receiving Yards
1. Collie, Austin (2004,07-08)      3,255 yards
61. Coats, Daniel (2003-06)        966 yards
62. Tuipulotu, Peter (1987-91)    965 yards
63. Davis, Bill (1978-80)             938 yards
64. Di Luigi, JJ (2008-)              920 yards

Fireside - TCU

Oct 27, 2011 - Posted by Jordan Christiansen at 10:20 pm | Permalink

The team held its usual pregame fireside at the Colleyville Stake Center in Texas on Friday evening.

Seniors McKay Jacobson and Moose Thorson spoke along with usual speakers Bronco and Holly Mendenhall.

Jacobson based his thoughts around a favorite scripture he often recited on his mission to Japan. In D&C 4:2, Jacobson was inspired to do all he was asked to do with his "heart, might, mind and strength." Whether it was learning Japanese, teaching those interested in his message or football upon his return, Jacobson expressed his testimony that following that verse of scripture has improved his life.

According to the senior receiver, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, recently came to a team meeting. Among other things, Jacobson said that President Uchtdorf told the team that God does not necessarily care whether they win or lose - but he does care how hard they try. The same principle holds true in all we do, from sports to all other aspects of life.

After a musical number by kicker Brian Smith, Thorson, an offensive lineman on the team, spoke of his journey from being a walk-on to a scholarship player who recently earned the first start of his career this season.

Thorson bore testimony that through the gospel, a person can do anything, giving himself as an example of a player with less skill who has been blessed by God to do things above his abilities.

After Coach Mendenhall's wife, Holly, reminded the congregation that they were all examples to people both known and unknown, Coach Mendenhall closed the meeting with his remarks. He told the story of being given the assignment by his father to break in new colts. Coach tied each colt to a mule; as the mules would being walking forward, the colts would dig in their heels, fall on the ground and resist being taken anywhere.

But with the mules plodding along despite the chaos behind them, the colts would learn to go along, eventually becoming more docile. Mendenhall compared the mules to himself, his family and all others who attempt to do good while the world around them fights and resists the standards of the gospel.

Kyle Van Noy ... One of everything

Oct 25, 2011 - Posted by Kenny Cox at 3:29 pm | Updated: October 25, 2011 3:38 pm | Permalink

Sophomore Kyle Van Noy is one of BYU's premier play makers. Van Noy, a 6-foot-3, 235-pound outside linebacker has been wreaking havoc on opposing quarterbacks and disrupting offenses ever since putting on a BYU uniform.

To this point in the 2011 season, Van Noy is the only FBS Division I player that has recorded at least one of the following statistics this season: tackle (36), tackle for loss (6.0), sack (3.0), interception (3), forced fumble (1), fumble recovery (1), quarterback hurry (5), pass breakup (3), punt block (1) and touchdown (1).

Whether it is dropping into coverage, batting down passes or blitzing left and right, Van Noy has a nose for the football.

He has often referred to himself as an "offensive player that plays defense." In fact, Van Noy has a goal of scoring at least one defensive touchdown each year, something he has accomplished in his first two seasons as a Cougar. In 2010, Van Noy recovered a fumble and returned it 44 yards for a touchdown in a 49-10 win over Colorado State. His goal was accomplished in the season opener in 2011, stripping the ball from the Rebels' quarterback at Ole Miss and scooping it up for a three-yard return and the winning touchdown in route to a 14-13 Cougar Victory.

With plenty of games left to play, Van Noy has opportunities to add even more to the stat sheet.

Special Returners

Oct 20, 2011 - Posted by Kenny Cox at 12:58 pm | Updated: October 20, 2011 1:04 pm | Permalink

Being a kick returner is not for the fearful. Catching a sky-high kick at the same time 11 speeding opponents are racing directly to hit you as hard as they possibly can is something only few are successful at. There will be at least two great BYU kick returners in LaVell Edwards Stadium, one past and one present.

Mike Rigell played for for the Cougars from 1998, 00-01 and is currently the all-time leader at BYU in kick return yards (1,625), tops in single-season kickoff return yards (865), second in career kick returns (65) and second in single-season kickoff returns (33). Rigell will be returning once again, but this time to the sidelines at LaVell Edwards Stadium as the current running backs coach for the Idaho State Bengals. The Tacoma, Wash. product has been mentioned among Cougar fans lately not only for his return to Provo, but because current kick returner Cody Hoffman recently equaled one of Rigell's best accomplishments on the football field.

Hoffman returned a kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown against UCF earlier this season and was the first to return a kickoff for a score since Rigell did it his freshman season in 1998. While visiting Hawaii in 1998, Rigell took the opening kick of the second half 96 yards to the house in route to a 31-9 BYU victory. Cougar fans waited 13 years and 160 games to see Hoffman do it again.

Rigell and Hoffman are very different type of players, at least in body type and style. At around 5-foot-7 and 184 pounds, Rigell's style was more of compact running, quickness and making people miss. Hoffman on the other hand towers over Rigell at 6-foot-4, 208 pounds and relies on his straight-line speed and physicality to pick up yards.

They both have the fearless mindset to return kicks that only few possess. While Rigell currently sits as the leader or in the top 10 of several kickoff return lists, he might just have to pass the torch to Hoffman eventually, who is averaging nearly 71 kickoff return yards per game in 2011. Take a look at some of the records that Hoffman, just a sophomore, could take hold of before he is done in Cougar uniform.

Career Kickoff Return Yards
1. 1,625 Mike Rigell (1998, 00-01)
2. 1,611 O'Neill Chambers (2008-10)
3. 1,391 Chris Farasopoulos (1968-70)
4. 1,277 Austin Collie (2004, 07-08)
5. 1,051 Eric Mortensen (1988-91)
6. 992 Jaron Dabney (1997, 99)
7. 973 Vai Sikahema (1980-81, 84-85)
8. 945 Mike O'Brien (1986-88)
9. 865 Homer Jones (1979-80)
10. 835 Cody Hoffman (2010-present)
Single Season Kickoff Return Yards
1. 865 Mike Rigell (2001)
2. 809 O'Neill Chambers (2008)
3. 723 Austin Collie (2007)
4. 659 Chris Farasopoulos (1969)
5. 638 Jaron Dabney (1997)
6. 617 Mike Rigell (1998)
7. 579 Homer Jones (1979)
8. 548 Chris Farasopoulos (1969)
9. 544 Dave Lowry (1976)
10. 507 John Betham (1974)
11. 495 Cody Hoffman (2011)

Career Kickoff Return Averages (min. 30 returns)

1. 27.27 Chris Farasopoulos (1968-70)
2. 26.09 Cody Hoffman (2010-present)
3. 26.06 Austin Collie (2004, 07-08)
4. 24.71 Homer Jones (1979-80)
5. 24.21 John Betham (1972-74)
6. 24.20 Jaron Dabney (1997, 99)
7. 23.77 Mike Rigell (1998, 00-01)
8. 23.55 O'Neill Chambers (2008-10)
9. 23.17 Vai Sikahema (1980-81, 84-85)
10. 22.50 Mike O'Brien (1986-88)
Career Kick Returns
1. 69 O'Neill Chambers (2008-10)
2. 65 Mike Rigell (1998, 00-01)
3. 51 Chris Farasopoulos (1968-70)
4. 49 Austin Collie (2004, 07-08)
  49 Eric Mortensen (1988-91)
6. 42 Mike O'Brien (1986-88)
  42 Vai Sikahema (1980-81, 84-85)
8. 41 Jaron Dabney (1997, 99)
9. 37 Bryce Mahuika (2004-08)
10. 35 Homer Jones (1979-80)
  35 Kent Oborn (1964-66)
11. 34 Cody Hoffman (2010-Present)
Single Season Kickoff Returns
1. 35 O'Neill Chambers (2008)
2. 33 Mike Rigell (2001)
3. 30 John Betham (1974)
4. 28 Austin Collie (2007)
5. 26 Jaron Dabney (1997)
  26 Dave Lowry (1976)
  26 Chris Farasopoulos (1970)
8. 23 Mike Rigell (1998)
  23 Golden Richards (1971)
10. 22 Mike O'Brien (1987)
  22 Homer Jones (1979)
11. 21 Bryce Mahuika (2004)
12. 20 Cody Hoffman (2011)

Harvey Unga, Curtis Brown in select company

Oct 13, 2011 - Posted by Jordan Christiansen at 2:07 pm | Updated: October 25, 2011 2:30 pm | Permalink

According to a list recently compiled by University of Colorado sports information's David Plati, BYU football has two members of a select group of players in FBS college football history.

Former Cougar running backs Harvey Unga (2006-09) and Curtis Brown (2002, 04-06) are two of only 24 players in FBS history to total at least 3,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards receiving in a career. In just over three years, Unga totaled 3,445 career rushing yards and 1,088 receiving yards while Brown finished with 3,221 yards rushing and 1,309 yards receiving.

Another former running back, Jamal Willis (1991-94), finished just thirty yards away from inclusion on the list with 1,970 rushing yards and 1,095 receiving yards in his career.

Unga and and Brown are currently first and second, respectively, on the BYU career rushing yards list. Brown is also first in BYU history with 4,993 all-purpose yards. Unga is 3rd on the same list with 4,553 yards.

BYU is one of only four schools in the nation to have two players on the list along with Texas Tech, Clemson and Oklahoma.

Player, School                                  Seasons                        Rushing       Receiving
Darrin Nelson, Stanford                   (4) 1978-1981                  4,442            2,559
Steve Bartalo, Colorado State         (4) 1983-1986                  4,813           1,079
George Swarn, Miami-Ohio             (4) 1983-1986                  4,172           1,057
Chuck Weatherspoon, Houston      (4) 1987-1990                  3,247           1,375
Terry Kirby, Virginia                         (4) 1989-1992                  3,348           1,022
Ryan Benjamin, Pacific                   (3) 1990-1992                  3,119           1,063
Warrick Dunn, Florida State            (4) 1993-1996                  3,959           1,314
Leon Johnson, North Carolina        (4) 1993-1996                  3,693           1,288
Ricky Williams, Texas Tech            (4) 1997, 1999-2001        3,656           1,151               
Levron Williams, Indiana                (4) 1998-2001                  3,095           1,088
Travis Zachery, Clemson                (4) 1998-2001                  3,050           1,032
Brock Forsey, Boise State              (4) 1999-2002                  4,037           1,175               
Quentin Griffin, Oklahoma              (4) 1999-2002                 3,938            1,337
Mewelde Moore, Tulane                 (4) 2000-2003                 4,364            2,059
Taurean Henderson, Texas Tech    (4) 2002-2005                 3,241            2,058
P.J. Pope, Bowling Green               (4) 2002-2005                 3,116           1,148
Curtis Brown, BYU                       (4) 2002, 2004-2006        3,221           1,309
Reggie Bush, USC                         (3) 2003-2005                  3,314           1,301
Tarrion Adams, Tulsa                     (4) 2005-2008                  3,651           1,149
Tyrell Sutton, Northwestern           (4) 2005-2008                  3,886           1,244
C.J. Spiller, Clemson                     (4) 2006-2009                  3,547           1,420
Harvey Unga, BYU                       (4) 2006-2009                  3,445           1,088
DeMarco Murray, Oklahoma         (4) 2007-2010                  3,685           1,571
Jacquizz Rodgers, Oregon State  (3) 2008-2010                  3,877           1,056
On the verge-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lance Dunbar, North Texas          (4) 2008-2011                  3,589             958
Bryce Beall, Houston                    (4) 2008-2001                 3,073              936
Rodney Stewart, Colorado           (4) 2008-2011                  3,175             815

Up Close: Matthew Edwards

Oct 10, 2011 - Posted by Ralph R. Zobell at 3:04 pm | Permalink

Take a closer look at senior tight end Matthew Edwards.

Nickname: Matt, Eduardo, Eddie
Favorite cold cereal: Cinnamon Toast Crunch
Favorite Bronco Mendenhall Quote: “Good is the enemy of great.”
Why did I choose to play football over other sports: Because I love it.
Before a football game, I: Listen to music, visualize myself making plays.
How did I spend my off-season: Traveling and working out.
Who is the best player I’ve ever faced: Bo McNally.
What  would I like to do sometime in my life is: Visit Antarctica to say I’ve been to all the continents.
If I could play another position, what would it be:  Quarterback.
One place I would like to visit:  Rio, Brazil.
Who has had the greatest influence on my football career and why:  High school coach Alema T`eo.
How did I select my jersey number: Childhood hero Chad Lewis was #89 for the Eagles.
What is my favorite hobby or activity away from football: Reading.
If I had to give up all my possessions except one, what would be the one thing I kept and why: iPhone, it has everything: scriptures, google, texting, other ways to contact family and friends.
If I were on “Who Wants to be a Millionaire,” the person I’d call for my lifeline is:  My Mom, she literally knows everything.
People say I look like: LaVell Edwards.
My favorite professor or most interesting class I’ve taken at BYU:  Survey of world religions.
My favorite scripture: 2 Nephi 31:20
What is the best book I’ve ever read:  Killer Angels
What is my most memorable athletic achievement:  Scoring game-winning two-point conversion vs. my rival high school my sophomore year.
On game day my friends and relatives: Go to my grandparents and eat gameday stew.
My favorite website:
My advice to youngsters: Be involved in as many activities as you can.
If I were hosting you on a recruiting visit to Provo, the most impressive thing I’d have to show you is: Athletic facilities and the outdoors.
One rule I’d change in college football is: Celebrations, we need more fun on the field.
If I could invite any people to dinner, who would they be: Genghis Khan, Robert E. Lee, Nelson Mandela.

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.