Game Notes: Cougars Travel to San Diego State

PROVO -- Coming off back-to-back home losses, the Cougars will travel to San Diego, Calif., to take on San Diego State at Qualcomm Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 4. Game time is slated for 7 p.m. (PDT). The game will be broadcast live by SportsWest on KSL, Ch. 5 in Salt Lake City and Ch. 4 in San Diego. While the Cougars are 1-1 in league play, the Aztecs will be playing in their first conference game of the season after getting off to a 3-2 start.

THE HISTORY: BYU vs. SAN DIEGO STATE

Saturday's game will mark the 28th meeting between the two schools. The Cougars own a 20-6-1 advantage in the series that dates back to Nov. 22, 1947. When playing in Provo, the Cougars are 12-2 against the Aztecs; however, when playing in San Diego the series is a little more balanced with the Cougars posting just an 8-4-1 mark. BYU head coach Gary Crowton is 2-0 against San Diego State, while SDSU coach Tom Craft is 0-1 against the Cougars. The Cougars claimed the last meeting in San Diego, posting a 59-21 victory during the 2001 season. San Diego State last defeated the Cougars during the 2000 season, a 16-15 victory in Provo. BYU has not lost to SDSU in San Diego since a 27-15 Aztec victory in 1988. Last season, BYU defeated San Diego State, 34-10, behind a 280-yard, three touchdown performance from freshman QB Matt Berry.

COMPLETE BROADCAST PLANS

Saturday's game will be broadcast live by SportsWest on KSL-TV, Ch.5, in Salt Lake City, and Ch. 4 in San Diego, beginning at 7:05 p.m. (PDT). Tom Kirkland will call the action with former BYU quarterback Blaine Fowler lending game analysis. The game will also be available on ESPN GamePlan. In addition, the game will be broadcast live on the Church satellite System. Fans with access to ward or stake meeting houses with satellite capabilities can view the game, live, on the Church's Satellite System. The Audio-Visual Committee for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has specified that the games may be viewed in any room through the ward or stake building, excluding the chapel. Fans can also tune to KSL Radio, 1160 AM and follow the action with the broadcast team of Greg Wrubell, Marc Lyons and Bill Riley.

LAST WEEK (Air Force 24, BYU 10)

Despite holding Air Force (5-0, 2-0) to 194 yards rushing, 144 below the Falcons' average of 338 yards which led the nation, BYU (2-3, 1-1) lost its second straight game 24-10 Saturday at LaVell Edwards Stadium. Head coach Gary Crowton said the loss was tough, but the team will try and learn from its mistakes and get better. The Cougars were driving in the middle of the fourth quarter with an opportunity to tie the game at 17, but a fumble by Marcus Whalen at the Air Force 43-yard line ended BYU's scoring threat. BYU got on the board first on a 35-yard field goal by Matt Payne in the first quarter. The Cougars drove the ball 45 yards on the drive, including 21-yards rushing by quarterback John Beck. Air Force scored 10 straight points to take a 10-3 lead. The Falcons kicked a 30-yard field goal in the second quarter and Chance Harridge scored on an eight-yard run in the third quarter. BYU answered on its very next possession, driving 80 yards and scoring on a 25-yard pass from John Beck to Philip Niu. Beck was 5-of-6 for 50 yards on the drive and finished the game 19-of-35 for 193 yards and one touchdown. Air Force next scored on a 30-yard pass from Harridge to J.P. Waller, putting Air Force up 17-10. After Whalen's fumble, BYU forced Air Force to punt the ball, getting the ball back with just over four minutes remaining in the game. On second-and-ten Beck completed a nine-yard pass to Daniel Coats, bringing up a third-and-one. On the next play, BYU ran a sweep to Reynaldo Brathwaite, but lost 10 yards on the play. Beck threw an incompletion on fourth down, as BYU turned the ball over on downs with 2:27 to play. Air Force would add a touchdown as time expired on a one-yard run by Harridge to bring the final score to 24-7. Air Force coach Fisher DeBerry said he wasn't trying to run up the score on the last touchdown. He said he thought it would be the safer than taking a knee.

POST-GAME NOTES

-The Cougars have not scored a rushing touchdown in 30 straight quarters--that's 7.5 games without a rushing touchdown, dating back to the second quarter of last season's win over Wyoming.

- The Cougars scored just 10 points against Air Force, marking the third straight game BYU has scored 14 or less points. On the season, the Cougars are averaging 15.2 points per game.

- Entering Saturday's game, Air Force averaged over 380 yards rushing per game. The BYU defense held the Falcons to just 194 yards rushing--144 yards below their average.

- The Falcons' win on Saturday marked the first victory in Provo since the 1982 season. The win also marked the first time Air Force has defeated BYU in back-to-back meetings since a win in 1995 and again in their next meeting in 1998. It is the first time ever the Falcons have defeated BYU in back-to-back seasons.

- With John Beck's incomplete pass attempt to Daniel Coats to start the Cougars' first offensive series, BYU extended its trend of passing on the first play from scrimmage to seven straight games. The Cougars have now passed on their first play from scrimmage in 15 of the last 17 games. The Falcons, continuing their trend to run on their first offensive play, extended their streak to 17 straight games with a running play on their first offensive play of the game.

- After holding the Falcons scoreless in the first quarter, the Cougars have registered nine scoreless quarters on the season. Over a span of five games, the Cougars have held their opponents scoreless in a nine of 20 quarters on the season.

- With Saturday's 24-10 loss against Air Force, the Cougars have now lost back-to-back home games in the same season for the first time since the 1993 season.

THE STREAK IS STILL ALIVE ... 355 GAMES AND COUNTING

Following Matt Payne's 35-yard field goal in the first quarter against Air Force, BYU extended its NCAA-record streak to 355 games without being shutout. BYU was last shutout during the 1975 season (Sept. 27, 1975 vs. Arizona State.) Interestingly, the Cougars do not have a single player on their rosters who was alive the last time BYU was shutout.

INJURY INFORMATION

Sophomore quarterback Matt Berry will miss Saturday's game after breaking his hand against New Mexico. Berry had surgery on Sunday, Sept. 14, and will be out 1-2 more weeks. He has missed both the Stanford and Air Force games. Senior defensive back Brandon Heaney suffered a season-ending shoulder injury against Georgia Tech. The injury is to the opposite shoulder he had surgically repaired after last season. Heaney had surgery in early September on the injured shoulder and will miss the remainder of the season. Reserve linebacker Lawrence Cowan will be out 2-4 more weeks after dislocating his elbow against Stanford. Another reserve linebacker, Bryant Atkinson, missed the Stanford and Air Force games with a knee injury and has been listed as questionable for the SDSU game. Cornerback Nate Soelberg did not play against Air Force after suffering a concussion against Stanford. He has been listed as probable for the San Diego State game. Senior linebacker Levi Madarieta has a foot injury. He has been listed as a game-time decision for the SDSU game.

RUSHING TOUCHDOWN DROUGHT

The Cougars have not scored a rushing touchdown in 30 straight quarters, dating back to a second-quarter touchdown run from Lance Pendleton against Wyoming on Nov. 9, 2002 in Provo. Over that span, including the second half of the Wyoming game, the Cougars have posted a record of 3-5, scoring a total of 11 touchdowns. San Diego State is one of only two schools in the nation which have yet to give up a rushing touchdown on the season.

OFFENSIVE NOTES

BYU's has scored just 20 points in its first two conference games, posting a 1-1 record. It is the lowest point total for the first two conference games since last year when the Cougars scored only 12 points in the first two conference games against Air Force and UNLV. The Cougars have scored 76 points in their first five games, which is the lowest total since 1970 when BYU scored only 55 points in its first five games. That stretch included a 17-0 shutout against UTEP. The Cougars started the 1970 season 1-4 and finished with a 3-8 record.

SCORING DRIVE INFORMATION

On the season the Cougars have allowed 15 scoring drives including eight drives of 38 yards or less. The longest drives have been for 80 yards (at #4 USC and Air Force), while the shortest was an 11-yard drive against the Trojans. BYU opponents average scoring drive covers just over 43 yards. Offensively, BYU has had 12 scoring drives, averaging 67.6 yards per drive. The Cougars' longest drive was a 94-yarder against Stanford, while the shortest was a 9-yard drive at USC. Ten of the Cougars' twelve scoring drives have been 78 yards or longer.

WHAT A PAYNE

Junior punter/kicker Matt Payne leads the Mountain West in punting and ranks 12th nationally with an average 44.7 yards per punt. He has also made 6 of 8 field goal attempts with a long of 53 yards--the second longest field goal in BYU football history behind a 56-yarder by Owen Pochman. Payne is also 8-for-8 in point-after attempts. Only 16 of his 33 punts on the season have been returned, allowing just 11.4 yards per return. 14-of-30 punts have landed inside the opponent's 20-yard line.

GETTING DEFENSIVE

BYU is currently ranked 13th nationally in total defense, allowing just 277.8 yards per game. The Cougars are ninth nationally in pass defense, allowing 142.6 yards a game. While the San Diego State offense is averaging 172.6 yards per game, the Cougars may have to face Aztec quarterback Adam Hall, who has been injured since the first game of the year. Last season Hall led the MWC in passing yards (3,253), total offense (3,143) and passing efficiency (129.1), ranking 10th in the nation in total yards. Against the rush, BYU gives up 135.2 yards on the ground and will face an Aztec team that averages 149.2 yards a game. San Diego State's leading rusher, Lynell Hamilton is second in the conference and 12th in the nation, with 119.2 yards per game. On the season the defense is third in the conference in scoring defense, giving up only 19.4 points per game. Through five games this is the least amount of points BYU has given up since 1996 when the Cougars gave up only 18.4 points per game. Last year through five games the defense was giving up 29.2 points per game, while posting a 2-3 record.

IN THE TRENCHES

The BYU offensive line, which includes three seniors and two freshmen, weighs in at a beefy 1,528 pounds, averaging 306 pounds per man. The O-line will be squaring off against an SDSU defensive line (three seniors, one freshman) that tips the scales at an average 281.3 per man. On defense, the Cougars' line (two seniors and a junior) weighs in at 280.3 pounds per man, while the Cardinal offensive line (three seniors, one sophomore and one freshman) average 310 pounds per man.

A LITTLE EXPERIENCE

Since the 1990 season, when BYU starts the year with a junior or senior at quarterback, the Cougars have posted a 72.8 winning percentage. In that same time frame, when BYU starts the season with an underclassman, the Cougars win just over 50 percent of their games. Since the 1990 campaign, BYU has only started an under classmen in four different seasons, including 1992, 1993, 2000 and 2002. This season, the Cougars started sophomore Matt Berry through the first three games. He started the season having started six games, marking the most starts by a BYU quarterback entering a season since Kevin Feterik in 1999. Over the past two games, the Cougars have started true freshman John Beck--only the second true freshman in school history to start at quarterback. On the season, Beck has seen action in four of the Cougars' five games. He is 42-of-86 (.488) with three interceptions and two touchdown completions. Beck is averaging 121.0 yards per game. In his two starts, Beck is averaging 236.0 yards per game.

FRESHMAN QUARTERBACKS

With Matt Berry sidelined this week with a broken hand, head coach Gary Crowton has turned to John Beck, a true freshman. Against Stanford, Beck became the first true freshman to start at quarterback since Drew Miller earned the starting job for a single game during the 1997 season. As a backup against TCU, on Oct. 25, 1997, Miller completed 16-fo-26 attempts for 180 yards and three touchdowns, earning the starting job the following week at UTEP. In his first career start, Miller was 17-of-32 for 226 yards. He failed to complete a single touchdown pass, and was picked off three times in the Cougars' 14-3 loss against the Miners. The following week, the Cougars' went to their third starting quarterback of the season -- Kevin Feterik -- who held on to the starting job for two more seasons. Beck will become only the second true freshman to start for the Cougars at quarterback. In his freshman debut, Beck showed he was capable of starting for the Cougars. He racked up 279 yards on 22-of-45 pass attempts, including a 27-yard touchdown strike to Toby Christensen to start the game. His freshman inexperience did cost him however, throwing two interceptions against the Cardinal.

HOME SWEET HOME

With a perfect 6-0 record in Provo during the 2001 season, the Cougars have recorded 12 undefeated home season since the 1967 campaign. In fact, since the stadium was expanded to 65,000, the Cougars have posted eight different seasons without losing a game in Provo. The 2001 perfect home season marked the first since 1998. BYU finished the 2002 season with a 4-2 home record, marking the team's 31st consecutive non-losing home season. In 2003, with a victory over Georgia Tech, BYU got off to a 1-0 start, but dropped an 18-14 decision to Stanford and a 10-24 conference loss to Air Force to fall to 1-2 on the season. The Cougars are 169-54 (.758) in Provo, dating back 40 years (1963), including a 10-5 (.667) home record against MWC opponents since 1999.

TURNOVER A NEW LEAF

Last season the Cougars gave up an average 2.9 turnovers per game. After four games, BYU has produced a minus 2 turnover margin. While recording four turnovers against Georgia Tech, allowing just two, the Cougars gave up five turnovers against USC, while forcing just three turnovers. In a defensive battle at New Mexico, the Cougars recovered one fumble, and did not allow a single turnover. Stanford won the turnover battle, throwing two interceptions while recovering three BYU fumbles and intercepting two passes. Against Air Force BYU had one interception and lost one fumble. On the season BYU committed 13 turnovers, while its opponents have committed 11.

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