League-Opener Set for Saturday at New Mexico

The Cougars will travel to New Mexico on Saturday for the Mountain West Conference opener for both teams. BYU has not lost at UNM's University Stadium since the 1997 season.

PROVO -- After coming up a bit shy against fourth-ranked USC last weekend, BYU will travel to Albuquerque on Saturday to take on New Mexico in the league-opener for both teams. Game time is slated for 6 p.m. (MDT) and will be broadcast locally on KSL-TV (Ch.5) by SportsWest. After falling at Texas Tech last weekend, 45-28, the Lobos are also 1-1 on the season. The Lobos stunned BYU at Edwards Stadium last season, winning their first game in Provo since 1971.

THE HISTORY; BYU vs. NEW MEXICO

Saturday's game will mark the 53rd meeting between BYU and New Mexico. The Cougars lead the series, 38-13-1, dating back to the first-ever meeting in 1951 -- a 34-0 UNM victory. Despite losing to the Lobos in Provo last season (the Cougar's first loss to New Mexico at home since 1971), BYU has won 20 of the last 22 meetings, including four of the last five contests. BYU is 18-8-1 against New Mexico in Albuquerque, including a mark of 10-1 over the last 11 games at University Stadium. BYU hasn't lost in Albuquerque since 1997.

COMPLETE BROADCAST PLANS

Saturday's game will be broadcast live by SportsWest on KSL-TV, Ch.5, beginning at 5 p.m. (PT). KSL's Tom Kirkland will call the action with former BYU quarterback Blaine Fowler lending game analysis. The game will also be broadcast 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 Satellite System.The Committee has specified that the games may be viewed in any room throughout the ward or stake building, excluding the chapel. 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 throughout the ward or stake building, excluding the chapel. Fans can also tune to KSL 1160-AM with the broadcast team of Greg Wrubell, Marc Lyons and Bill Riley.

LAST WEEK (BYU 18, #4 USC 35)

After giving up 21 points in the first quarter, BYU put a scare in to fourth-ranked USC, scoring 18 un-answered points to get within three points with four minutes remaining. But, the come-from-behind effort wasn't enough as the Cougars lost to the Trojans, 35-18. Before the Coliseum crowd of 75,315 knew what had happened, USC had scored two of its first-quarter touchdowns as a result of two BYU turnovers inside the 20-yard line, the first coming on a muffed punt and the second coming on a 20-yard interception return by Omar Nazel. Trailing 21-0 entering the second quarter, BYU's defense picked up the intensity. Freshman linebacker K.C. Bills forced USC quarterback Matt Leinart into an intentional grounding penalty that resulted in a safety. On USC's next possession, defensive end John Denney was credited with a sack. Then, on the next play Denney swatted Leinart's pass and intercepted it as time was winding down in the second quarter. Matt Berry found Daniel Coats for a nine-yard gain to set up a 53-yard field goal attempt. With no time left, All-American candidate Matt Payne connected on his first of two 50-yard field goals on the night. Payne's 53-yard field goal to end the first half marked the second-longest field goal in school history. The BYU defense came out of the gate fired up in the second half, forcing USC into a three-and-out. The Cougars took over on their own 20-yard line, and drove the ball the length of the field, scoring on a 14-yard pass from Matt Berry to Daniel Coats. Coats, the Cougars leading receiver, led BYU with a career-high eight receptions for 114 yards. Berry, who struggled early, finished the game with 27 completions for 297 yards and one touchdown. BYU would add two more field goals by Payne, including a 52-yarder, to cut USC's lead to three at 21-18, but USC would add two touchdowns late in the game to put the game away. BYU's defense played solid, holding USC to just 71 yards rushing while intercepting three passes and sacking Leinert four times. The BYU defense allowed just 235 yards passing. Cougar safety Joshua Brandon finished the game with one interception and deflected a pass that was intercepted.

POST-GAME NOTES

- Junior Matt Payne became the first kicker in BYU history to hit two 50-plus-yard field goals in a single game. Payne split the uprights on a personal-best 53-yarder to end the second half at USC, followed by a 52-yarder in the fourth quarter to cut the USC lead to 21-18. Payne's 53-yard field goal tied the second longest field goal in school history.

- K.C. Bills's sack of USC quarterback Matt Leinart in the second quarter marked the first safety recorded by the Cougars since the 1998 season -- a 46-21 win over New Mexico.

- Saturday's game marked the first time since Nov. 9, 2002 (vs. Wyoming) that BYU has failed to score in the first quarter. In contrast, USC's one-yard touchdown reception from Matt leinart to Mike Williams marked the first time BYU has given up a first-quarter touchdown since the Wyoming game on Nov. 9, 2002, ending a streak of three straight games.

- The BYU defense held USC to just 71 yards rushing, marking the second straight game the Cougars have held their opponents to under 100 yards rushing. The back-to-back performance marks the first time since holding San Diego State (18) and Wyoming (76) to under 100 yards in back-to-back games during the 2002 season.

THE STREAK IS STILL ALIVE ... 352 GAMES AND COUNTING

Following K.C. Bills's sack of USC quarterback Matt Leinart in the endzone, forcing a touchback against the Trojans, BYU extended its NCAA-record streak to 352 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.

COUGARS IN LEAGUE OPENERS

Since 1972, BYU has registered a mark of 21-9-1 (.694) in league openers. When opening the conference season in Provo, the Cougars have posted a mark of 10-2 (.833) over that same span. On the road, BYU is

COUGARS vs. LOBOS IN LEAGUE OPENERS

Saturday's game will mark the seventh time BYU and New Mexico have met in a league-opening game. The Cougars own a 6-1 record against the Lobos in those contests, dating back to 1977. The last time BYU and UNM met in a league-opener was 1996 -- a 17-14 BYU victory.

INJURY INFORMATION

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 is expected to have surgery this week on the injured shoulder and is likely to miss the remainder of the season. Running back Marcus Whalen suffered a foot injury against Georgia Tech and did not play against USC. He is questionable for the New Mexico game. Backup quarterback John Beck suffered a concussion against USC. He will not play against New Mexico. Junior Todd Mortensen will backup Matt Berry at quarterback. Reynaldo Brathwaite suffered a bruised sternum against the Trojans. He is expected to play against the Lobos.

DC LEADS THE NATION

After a team-leading eight receptions for 114 yards in the Cougars' 38-15 loss at fourth-ranked USC, redshirt freshman Daniel Coats currently ranks as the nation's top tight end, as well as the nation's top freshman receiver in both receptions per game and receiving yards per game. The 6-3, 249-pound tight end has averaged 7.0 receptions per contest and an average 103.5 yards per contest. Coats was named the MWC Offensive Player of the Week on Sept. 1 after helping the Cougars to a 24-13 season-opening victory over Georgia Tech. In his first collegiate game, Coats not only earned the starting assignment against Georgia Tech, he also led the entire team with six receptions for 93 yards. Coats, a graduate of Northridge HS in Layton, Utah, was also credited with a game-high two touchdown receptions and averaged 15.5 yards per reception -- the first freshman tight end in school history to record two TDs in a single game. With BYU trailing 3-0 with 5:07 remaining in the first quarter, facing a fourth-and-three from the Georgia Tech 38 yards line, sophomore QB Matt Berry found Coats over the top for a 38-yard, finger-tip touchdown catch -- his first, career reception. In the third quarter, trailing the Yellow Jackets 13-7, Berry hooked up with Coats for what would be the game-winning touchdown -- a 15-yard pass in the endzone to cap a seven-play, 80-yard drive to start the second half. In his second career start, Coats broke the 100-yard barrier, becoming the first BYU receiver to record 100 yards since Reno Mahe had eight receptions for 124 yards against UNLV last season. Coats's performance also marked the first 100-yard performance for a tight end since Doug Jolley racked up 177 yards on 10 receptions in 2001 against Air Force.

COATS SHATTERS FRESHMAN RECORDS

In only two games, freshman tight end Daniel Coats has already broken two freshman tight end records and is zeroing in on a third. In just two games, Coats has 207 yards receiving, breaking Chad Lewis' freshman record of 172 yards throughout the entire 1993 season. With three touchdown receptions on the season, Coats has also broken the old single-season freshman tight end record of two, set by both Kirk Tanner (1974) and Ralph Martini (1986). With 14 receptions on the season, Coats needs just two more to break Kirk Tanner's freshman tight end record of 16 receptions during the 1974 season.

CLOCK MANAGEMENT

After winning the time of possession battle for the second straight week, BYU is enjoying an average 10 minute and 20 second advantage in terms of time of possession. Against Georgia Tech, the Cougars dominated the clock, racking up an 18:12 advantage over the Yellow Jackets. At USC, the Cougars had the ball 2:30 longer than the Trojans.

DEFENSIVE NOTES

With all eyes on the new-and-improved defense, the Cougars stepped up to the challenge against both USC and Georgia Tech. While the Yellow Jackets scored 13 points, the BYU defense did not allow a single touchdown. Against the Trojans, the Cougars held the fourth-ranked team in the nation to just seven first-half points. Overall, the BYU defense has recorded four shutout quarters, including two quarters against Georgia Tech and two quarters against USC. After giving up an average 384.7 yards per game in 2002, BYU held Georgia Tech to just 243 total yards and USC to 306 yards. A year ago, the BYU defense gave up 177.8 yards rushing and 206.9 yards passing per contest. Against Georgia Tech, 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.) Against the Trojans, the Cougars held USC to just 71 yards rushing and 235 yards passing.

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 a UNM defensive line (three seniors) that tips the scales at an average 275.7 pounds per man. On defense, the Cougars' line (two seniors and a junior) weighs in at 280.3 pounds per man, while the Lobo's offensive line (two seniors, one junior, one sophomore and one freshman) average 320.2 pounds per man.

HIT THE ROAD

During the 2003 season, BYU will compete in six road games, including tough, non-conference trips to USC and Notre Dame. Last season the Cougars struggled on the road, posting a 1-5 road record. Since joining the MWC in 1999, the Cougars are 7-6 on the road against league opponents. Over the past 40 seasons, dating back to 1963, BYU is 127-91-3 (.581) on the road. In that span, the Cougars have recorded just three seasons with a perfect road record. (1984, 1979 and 1966.) Over the past 40 years, BYU has tallied 29 non-losing road records, including a 6-1 mark in 2001.

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