The BYU defense held the Yellow Jackets to just 243 yards of total offense. In addition, the defense did not allow a Georgia Tech touchdown. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
Q: Will Beck play a predetermined series against USC?
A: Yes, I've got to bring him along. You could see yesterday, just getting out there the first time is different, but you just have to do it. He kind of drifted one time and got sacked, and he let the ball float on one and got intercepted. But he's reading it right and looking at it well, and I think he's going to be outstanding. I think he just needed to get out there and feel the speed of the game with the adrenaline rush and all the things that happen to you. I'm just going to try and keep bringing him along.
I can't do it in the JV games because if he gets hurts, he's our backup, and I just don't think that's the right way to do it.
Q: To what do you attribute all the penalties?
A: Youth on offense. They play hard though. I don't want all of those penalties, and I don't blame the officials. Some of those calls were close and even questionable. But there were a lot of things we did that can be attributed to energy. We made a couple of mistakes. We let the 25-second clock run down a couple of times. We had a couple of defensive penalties. One or two of them were questionable.
The thing of it is they were calling the plays very sensitive. If the officiating crew calls them that way, then we have to adjust to the way they call them. That was a good lesson for us.
Q: What happened on the punt block?
A: Our right guard and our center got out of position and they were able to beat the gap. Coach Tidwell did a great job of taking everybody and figuring out was the problem and adjusting. They tried that a couple of more times and we were able to stop them.
I knew special teams would be a big factor in this game because with their quarterback they weren't going to ask him to do too much down the field. And I knew they would try and do something on special teams.
Q: How concerned are you with the number of hits Matt Berry took?
A: For a normal game, I thought he didn't take too many. I thought our protection was pretty good. We gave up two sacks, but Matt could have scrambled or tried to make something happen. He took a couple of hits where guys got beat, but that's going to happen. And John Beck got sacked just because he drifted. I didn't think he took too many hits. I think he's going to take a lot more this week [at USC].
Q: You went for it a lot on fourth down.
A: I was in a field zone where if you punt it goes in the end zone and you're only going to gain 10 net yards. If it was any further back, I wouldn't have done it.
We were three for three, so that worked out. But I'm not going to do that all the time. I don't care how much they cheer for me to do it. Every one of them were inside the 50. I'm hoping we don't have to do as many. I was happy with our third-down conversions, and we would have had a couple of more if it wasn't for penalties.
BYU head trainer George Curtis reported this morning that senior defensive back Brandon Heaney suffered a shoulder injury in last night's game. The injury is to the opposite shoulder he had surgically repaired after last season. Heaney is expected to have surgery on the injured shoulder within the next week and is likely to miss the remainder of the season.
Senior defensive back Jernaro Gilford suffered a hand injury. He will be in a cast until Tuesday or Wednesday when his condition will be re-evaluated. While there is a possibility he may be outfitted with a rubberized cast, Curtis said Gilford's injury would not prevent him from playing against USC.
Running back Marcus Whalen suffered a foot injury during pre-game warm-ups. BYU head coach Gary Crowton said Whalen was accidentally stepped on by a teammate during pre-game drills. While Whalen is expected to miss the USC game, Curtis said Whalen's is possible for the New Mexico game. He will continue to be re-evaluated.
No other significant injuries were reported.
Record Streak Still Alive
With Matt Berry's 38-yard touchdown pass to Daniel Coates in the first quarter, BYU extended its NCAA-record streak to 351 games without being shutout. BYU was last shutout during the 1975 season (Sept. 27, 1975 vs. Arizona State.) The Cougars do not have a single player on their roster who was alive the last time BYU was shutout.
Thursday's 24-13 win over Georgia Tech marked the 16th victory in a pay-back opportunity for the Cougars since Nov. 7, 1998. Over that span, the Cougars are 16-1 in payback games. Since 1980, BYU is a combined 42-22 (.656) in payback games. (Georgia Tech defeated BYU last season in Atlanta, 28-19.)
Against the ACC
Thursday's victory marked the second win over an ACC opponent. The Cougars are 2-5 overall against teams from the ACC. The team's only other victory over an ACC foe came in an overtime thriller at Virginia during the 2000 season.
Thursday's game marked the fourth time in the past five years the Cougars have opened the season in Provo. In that span, BYU has recorded a perfect 4-0 record. Including Thursday's victory, BYU has tallied a 48-28-2 (.628) record in season-openers, dating back to 1922. When playing in the season-opener in Provo, the Cougars are 27-10-1 (.724).
Turnover a New Leaf
Last season the Cougars gave up an average 2.9 turnovers per game. On Thursday, the Cougars forced four turnovers, while giving up only two for a +2 advantage.
After Georgia Tech blocked a BYU punt in the second quarter, Nathan Burton returned the ball 18-yards for a touchdown, marking the first time since the 1993 season the Cougars have had a blocked punt returned for a touchdown.
Dating back to the New Mexico game last season (Nov. 16, 2002), the Cougars have not permitted a first-quarter touchdown, spanning a stretch of three-straight games. While BYU gave up two field goals against Georgia Tech on Thursday, the Cougars' defense did not allow a first-quarter touchdown. Georgia Tech had a first-and-goal from the BYU four yard line, and a first-and-10 from the BYU 12-yard line. Both times the BYU defense held and forced the Yellow Jackets to kick a field goal.
With all eyes on the new-and-improved defense, the Cougars stepped up to the challenge against Georgia Tech. While the Yellow Jackets scored 13 points, the BYU defense did not allow a single touchdown. After giving up an average 384.7 yards per game in 2002, BYU held Georgia Tech to just 243 total yards -- 141.7 yards less than last year's season average. A year ago, the BYU defense gave up 177.8 yards rushing and 206.9 yards passing per contest. Thursday, the defense allowed just 96 yards rushing (an improvement of 81.8 yards over last season) and 147 yards passing (an improvement of 59.9 yards over last season.)
The Cougars dominated the time-of-possession battle against Georgia Tech, controlling the clock 18:12 longer than the Yellow Jackets.
The Cougars will travel to Los Angeles to take on nationally-ranked USC at the Coliseum. Georgia Tech will play host to Auburn. Interestingly, USC is playing at Auburn on Saturday, Aug. 30.