PROVO -- BYU head coach Gary Crowton addressed media at the Tucanos BYU Coaches Luncheon Wednesday afternoon. Following are excerpts from his opening statement as well as the question and answer session with the media.
"I'm very happy about the win against Colorado State because they were defending conference champions, they were picked to win the conference and they were playing pretty good football. They played Fresno State right to the wire and lost in overtime and beat Utah. We knew it was going to be a really hard fought game. We are really happy to get the win and the guys are performing well. Now we are going on to Wyoming . Any time you go on the road anything can happen. They say the weather will be good but you never know. We've got our parkas and tights ready, just in case. I know they are 0-5 in the conference, but they have shown really nice flashes of being a good team. They are very capable . Two years ago when BYU was 8-1 they went to Laramie and lost to them. We discussed that and we really need to prepare well and be focused for this game. We can't look ahead to anything after this game so it will be an interesting challenge going down there."
Q: Are there enough guys remaining from the '99 season that have brought up the Wyoming game in conversation?
A: Yeah, it was brought up by the players in our Monday meeting. They talked about it and I think we have a pretty good attitude about it. It's been brought to the attention of the team. The team knows that Laramie is tough. Last year it was a fairly close game against them, even down here. The players have good respect for them. They've had two weeks to prepare for us. I think that's definitely to their advantage.
Q: Could you be more specific as to who brought it up and what was the setting?
A: We were just talking about the games and some of the players said, you remember two years ago. I can't remember who it was specifically. They remember it. Anything can happen. Anybody can beat anybody. You always say that, but it's so true. I think we just have to go with the mindset that we've had and focus on this game and go play hard. Good things will happen to us.
Q: Even though you're rolling and 9-0, people are asking you to defend the defense. What's your thought on that?
A: What I know is, right now I think our defense has played very well. I thought they did an outstanding job in the Air Force game. It was 63-13 when our starters came out. I think we got beat up pretty hard in that game. I know we've been beat up the last two games defensively up front. But we've had a couple extra days because of the Thursday game. Hopefully, we'll be able to heal up. We might not even start Brett Keisel. He's probably better now than he was two weeks ago, but we just feel like he's not healing. The way I look at it now I'm very proud of our defense. Ryan Denney's got a turf toe and he hasn't missed anything. Keisel's got a severely sprained ankle and he hasn't missed anything. You've got a sprained knee for Brandon Stephens, who didn't even play in the last two games. Jeff Cowart has a slightly separated shoulder and a bad foot. Jim Roberts is out with a bad arm. C.J. Ah You is out for the whole year. You take that into consideration, there are some injuries. I feel like for this week, hopefully Ryan Denney will get the rest that he needs. Michael Marquardt has got some playing time and he can perform well if we go without playing Brett Keisel in that area. I'm not trying to make excuses. I don't need to make excuses because we're winning. But this is the reality of it. Isaac Kelley has a medial collateral sprain in his knee and his arm is purple because of the contusion he had on his bicep. Paul Walkenhorst has a pulled groin. You take those things into consideration and I watch those guys got out there and play for the team. None of them came out of the game. I was very proud of them. I really don't feel like I need to defend them, but I felt like maybe I needed to let people know there were circumstances in these last two games. I think we're healing up and the trainers are doing a good job, at least they're keeping them playing.
Q: When will you make the call on Keisel?
A: I probably won't make the call until game time. I know he can play, but my concern is that he's not getting any better. It's hurting in the run game, but they're still playing well and doing good things as a team. The other thing is they're on the field a long time. We score quickly, and in scoring quickly, they're right back out on the field. The San Diego State game, the defense basically scored 21 points for that game. They recovered the ball on the five-yard line, and they returned the block and the interception back for a touchdown. I don't know why people want me to defend them. Sometimes people have high expectations. When we're 9-0, they're looking down the road ahead of us to see what reasons we're going to have to fail. They're trying to find a reason for us to fail down the road. The road's ahead of us. We just have to play well each game one at a time. We're working on it.
Q: Are they overlooking the fact that the defense is making plays in crucial situations?
A: We're beating their teams by an average of 25 points a game. That's what we've done up until this point, this tenth game. Whatever someone wants to say who the best team is, that's all speculation anyway, because that's the BCS. What I think is we're playing very well as a team. I'm sure glad the defense played well in that Cal game in the first half when the offense struggled. I'm sure glad they played well and got the stops at the end of that UNLV game. The second half of the Utah State game as well. I'm proud of the defense and I think they're going to play well this week. They're going to get healthy. We've got a lot of games. It's a big schedule. We're getting everyone's best game, I believe that. When you're ranked and you're up there and with BYU's reputation, everybody knows they have got to get up for the BYU game, and I've seen that.
Q: People are saying you have a great offense but no defense and are using that as a reason to say you don't have a whole team.
A: Interesting enough you say that and then I watch Florida State win pretty good and give up 27 points, so that team was going up and down the field too. But people are saying Florida State's back because they are a BCS team. Then I watch Georgia Tech and Clemson play 42-48 and I also watched Arkansas play Mississippi 17-17 when their fresh then all of a sudden it's 58-56 because they get tired. When we went into that Colorado State game, Colorado State was the best defense in the conference. They were the ones that held Louisville to 7 points. Their defense is the one that held Fresno State to 25. Their defense is the one that beat Utah. When you look at that, they are the best defense in the conference. The fact of the matter is we beat them by 22 points. That's the way you play. You play to win, and that's what we are doing.
Q: Are there some things you've got in your box that you haven't pulled out yet because you haven't needed to?
A: We actually were going to add some to the CSU game but we didn't expect them to option as much . When they ran that option, it wasn't as option sound as some of the other defenses and we pulled right out of it, which was a good plan on their part. We do have some other things and we may play some this week. This type of team that we are playing with the pass game is a little bit different. They like to really throw it so you have to protect. You have to get pass rush with four guys and be able to defend because they spread you out so much. We have different things every week. Sometimes they aren't as obvious to a normal person because they are not looking for what gaps or how they are slanting. Still, when you are ahead you don't need to be that aggressive. You don't want to do things that give them quick scores. I think we are playing well as a team. Everybody's dream is that we beat them all 50-0. That would be the greatest team ever. What I say is that we still have four games. I can't even worry about what other people think. All I am trying to do as a head coach is to win this conference so that we can get invited to the Liberty Bowl. That is our number one goal. If that happens, fine. If we continue to win and for some reason they invite us to another bowl, then we will adjust there. We know what we can control, and that is the one thing that we can control right now.
Q: How hard is it to be focused with Utah coming up next week?
A: That is a concern. People always think you are going to walk all over an 0-5 conference team. Utah right now has only got one conference loss with three conference games to go. It would be easy to try and look over Wyoming, but I don't think we are going to do that. I think we are understanding that you can't overlook anybody. You can't play for the future. You've got to play for where you are at now and the future will take care of itself.