Men's Football Blog

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.

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.