Freshman Joshua Quezada's first touch as a Cougar was a second quarter touchdown (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
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Game notes and quotes from BYU's 23-17 season-opening win against Washington on Saturday, Sept. 4, at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo, Utah.
BYU has won four-straight season openers. BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall is now 4-2 in home openers. In season openers against Washington, BYU is now 2-1 after previously winning in 1999 and losing in 1997. Overall, the series is tied, 4-4.
BYU scored its first points on a safety in the second quarter when Washington punter Erik Folk threw the ball out of the back of the end zone after a bad snap. It was the first safety for the Cougars since October 30, 2003, against Boise State on a similar play. Interestingly, Boise State also scored a safety that game.
Another Two Points
BYU’s Riley Nelson converted a two-point conversion on a quarterback draw, the first two-point conversion in almost two years for the Cougars since Harvey Unga scored versus UNLV at home on October 25, 2008 in a 42-35 victory.
New Career Highs
In his first career start at BYU, junior quarterback Riley Nelson threw 11-of-17 for 131 yards and two touchdowns with a long pass of 48 yards. All marks were BYU career highs for Nelson, who also gained 45 yards on eight rushes.
In the Game
A total of 16 Cougars saw the first action of their BYU careers against Washington, highlighted by freshman Joshua Quezada’s nine-yard touchdown catch, freshman quarterback Jake Heaps throwing 13-of-23 for 131 yards and freshman tight end Richard Wilson’s three catches for 45 yards.
Pulling Out the Close Ones
With the six-point win over the Huskies, BYU has now won 12 consecutive games decide by seven points or fewer.
Today’s attendance was 63,771, the 19th straight sell-out at LaVell Edwards Stadium. Due to additional wheelchair access placed inside the stadium, Edwards Stadium’s official capacity was reduced 320 seats from 64,045 to a capacity of 63,725.
BYU has a tradition of selecting a player before each game to run the team flag onto the field, as well as a former Cougar to carry out the alumni flag. Each member of the team has signed the team flag, while former BYU players have signed the alumni flag. Their signatures reflect their commitment to uphold the tradition, spirit and honor of the BYU football program and to be a flag bearer of the University.
Today, BYU All-American quarterback Jim McMahon carried out the alumni flag. McMahon (1978-81) set 75 NCAA records during his career at BYU. A Consensus All-American (1981) in addition to winning the Davey O’Brien Quarterback and Sammy Baugh trophies, McMahon led the Chicago Bears to Super Bowl win in 1986. Carrying the team flag was junior linebacker Jordan Pendleton who tonight was third on the team with eight tackles, including 1.5 tackles for loss and half of a sack.
Y Quarterback Weekend
For the first time in school history, eight All-American returned to Provo to take part in a fundraiser for the BYU Football program. Y Quarterback Weekend from Sept. 3-4 featured All-Americans Virgil Carter, Gifford Nielsen, Marc Wilson, Jim McMahon, Steve Young, Robbie Bosco, Ty Detmer and Steve Sarkisian. Y Quarterback Weekend began on Friday, Sept. 3, with a golf tournament at Riverside Country Club. That evening on campus, LaVell Edwards hosted a dinner and auction where each All-American quarterback provided a unique item to be auctioned. The festivities concluded today with a special ceremony at halftime. All money raised during the weekend will be used to endow scholarships at BYU. One fully endowed athletic scholarship is approximately $250,000.
BYU Head Coach Bronco Mendenhall
“I was proud of our team tonight. It was a complete victory. Our offense played well enough to win, our defense played well enough to win, and we won the field position battle, forcing Washington to come out of their own end zone as much as they did. Our special teams did well. It really took all three phases to win, and I think field position was the determinant.”
“Both quarterbacks played well, our running backs played well and made plays when we needed them. Overall, for an opening game, I was pleased.”
“There were times in the first half when a single player was off one gap and they executed well enough to make us pay for it. As far as our youth versus their relative experience, I think that we did exceptional. We haven’t arrived yet but I was pleased with how we played.”
“There was no script. Riley was going to take the first series and Jake the second and we just went from there. They both look poised and confident, regardless of the drive. The only time I will be involved with who is playing quaterback is the last drive. Other than that [quarterbacks coach] Brandon [Doman] and [Offensive Coordinator Robert] Anae will handle it. Both quaterbacks played to their strengths and did a good job.”
“We played a defense (on the last series) we had not played the entire night. The look was confusing and the tempo came out faster than it was supposed to. The ball came out of Locker’s hand fast, and we dropped eight on that play, rushed three, and we anticipated the ball would come out quickly. That gave us a chance to be on the underneath routes; the only risk was the possible scramble by Locker but we took a calculated risk. Jaime Hill called a great game. I was really impressed with the job he did. I have not been in a defensive meeting so it was great to see it come together.”
“We didn’t play a substitution group in the first half, but we saw we needed it in the second half so we could get more pressure on the quarterback. When we put Kyle Van Noy in, we saw we had a player that could do that.”
“JJ Di Luigi met my expectations. It’s great to see a player that labors in the program and battles and finally does really well.”
“Brian [Logan] is great, he is short but he is not little. He makes critical plays at critical times to help his team win.”
“It looked like we played with more energy. It looked like we held out conditioning in the second half and it looked as the game went on that we were more conditioned. It looked like we were handling the pace at a better level that our opponent.”
Washington Head Coach Steve Sarkisian
"Well, I thought overall this was a good first football game. We played hard, I thought both teams played hard. I thought in a lot of areas we were sloppy, especially in special teams. In turn, I think with all of that, BYU did a good job of managing field position. I know that was something they were focused on coming into the game and it really paid dividends for them."
"We were playing the long field and they were playing the short field, and when that happens I think you feel like when you’re marching, and you’re marching, and you get into situations where you feel like you’ve got to maximize field pressure opportunities because you don’t know how many you’re going to get. You have to keep working to get the ball down the field."
"That was the reason for the first fourth down attempt there early in the fourth quarter that we didn’t make. It forced us into a situation where we had to go for it again late in the game, where we could potentially be in a situation for a tying field goal."
"I know just this one game won’t define our season. We’ve got 12 more football teams to play. I was proud of our effort tonight but there are definitely things we can look to improve on."