BYU hosts Nevada for homecoming
PROVO, Utah–BYU welcomes Nevada to LaVell Edwards Stadium for an 8:15 p.m. MDT homecoming matchup Saturday.
ESPN2 will broadcast the game, with kickoff at 8:21 p.m. Radio broadcast coverage is available through the Cougar IMG Sports Network via BYUcougars.com, Sirius XM 143, KSL 102.7 FM/1160 AM and the BYU Cougars app. Radio coverage begins at 6 p.m.
BYUtv begins its coverage with Countdown to Kickoff starting at 7 p.m. MDT and concluding with the postgame show following the game. Both shows are available on BYUtv, byutvsports.com and BYU Radio. BYUtv will rebroadcast the game starting at 12:30 a.m.
BYU has homecoming festivities planned for the week leading up to the game. Hike and Light the Y at 6 p.m. MDT Tuesday kicks off the week. Saturday activities begin at 8:30 a.m. with the blue pancake breakfast, followed by the Cougar Run and homecoming parade at 10 a.m. For a complete list of homecoming week activities and performances, visit the official BYU homecoming parade website.
Nevada (3-3, 1-2 MW) at BYU (4-2)
Saturday, Oct. 18, 2014 at 8:15 p.m. MDT
LaVell Edwards Stadium
Last meeting. BYU’s last meeting with Nevada was in 2013, when the Cougars pulled off the 28-23 win in the last game of the regular season at the Wolf Pack’s stadium.
BYU vs. MW. BYU has 275 wins against Mountain West opponents. Its last victory against a team from its former conference was 2013 win against Nevada. Its last matchup with a MW opponent was the Oct. 3 loss to Utah State.
10 seasons. Bronco Mendenhall is now in his 10th season as head coach of the Cougars. Mendenhall has an 86-36 record, and BYU ranks 12th in total wins nationally during his tenure.
Beating the best. Since 2003, BYU has 17 wins against Power 5 schools, which ranks second among non-Power 5 schools behind fellow independent Navy. BYU has the longest season streak, with nine straight seasons with a Power 5 win.
Player of the Week. Tight end Devin Mahina had two touchdowns against UCF, earning him CFPA National Tight End of the Week.
New faces. Senior quarterback Christian Stewart made his first start as a Cougar Oct. 9 vs. UCF, taking over for quarterback Taysom Hill, who suffered a season-ending leg fracture against Utah State. Stewart threw for 153 yards and three touchdowns against UCF.
5 weeks in the spotlight. BYU’s game Saturday is its fifth-straight appearance on one of the ESPN networks. BYU has been on an ESPN network for five of its six games this season.
What was the progression?
You could definitely tell that coming out I was a little bit nervous with it being my first start at a great opponent's home field. I was a little antsy at the get-go, but once we starting getting a few first downs, getting the run game going, I really felt like I settled into myself and was able to play the way that I play football. And I'm definitely encouraged with the performance, not the outcome that we wanted. The progression throughout the game shows that it's only up from here. Going forward there are a lot of things to be excited about.
What is the next step?
The next step for me is I can't take two quarters to get things rolling, especially with this being my offense now and me being the leader. I need to help set the tone at the beginning of the game against Nevada. They're a great team, and we've got to come out strong. We've got to come out fast.
Is the feeling in the locker room disappointment or progress?
Definitely guys are disappointed with the outcome. I mean, we didn't travel all the way to Florida just to get better as a team, we traveled there to win the game. We didn't accomplish that, so guys were definitely discouraged by that, but at the same time there are a lot of things to be positive about, especially that we had second-string, third-string guys in there for a lot of the game and we still played really well. Going forward I feel like this team is very focused on what it needs to do. Coach Mendenhall has done a great job of showing us exactly the things we need to focus on and what we need to be doing to be a great team. He's shown us that we are a great team when we're assignment-sound. So we're really just focusing on what we need to be doing this week to better ourselves.
On throwing to tight ends:
My dad for some reason loves tight ends. David Krueger, who started at the University of Utah for a few years, he was my tight end in high school. He was always telling me after games on Friday nights, 'Why aren't we throwing to the tight ends? Why aren't we getting the ball to the big guys?' It's probably my subconscious thinking, 'Throw the ball to the tight end.'
On optimism as a whole team:
I really feel like meeting with Dr. Manning this year, the sports psychologist, has helped me specifically, but our team as well. Just focusing on the things that we need to be doing and the things that we can do. There's no need to focus on things in the past. There's no need to dwell on things that are out of our control. We just need to live in the moment and focus on what we can do, what I can do right now this play to be better. And I really feel like that's changed the attitude of this team and really helped us to see the bigger picture of what's most important.
On younger guys playing:
We got a lot more comfortable throughout the game. We had a lot of 3-and-outs going, I think back to back for five or six series. Us younger guys, we are prepared throughout the week in practice and everything, so I don't feel like we're that big of a shock.
How did you feel you did?
I felt like I did just alright. I had a lot of mistakes assignment-wise. On some of the plays I felt like I got up to the quarterback pretty well in this game…It's just going to be a matter of continuing to get that experience, growing as a player in my assignment and execution and everything like that.
What did you learn from the UCF game?
Our team tried really hard. They played with a lot of grit and determination and heart. Christian Stewart really came along nicely. So a lot of positives.
On simplifying the offense:
It's really a reference point to restart rather than staying there--to restart and then build from there.
On sprained ankles:
That's a really good question. There was one point where we had 10 and that number has gone up. We've looked for commonalities. They've happened mostly in games. Trainers are researching it, trying to find out what the answer is, but really not much commonality–most of them being rolled up on by somebody else in piles right now. Very few of them out in the open.
Was it encouraging to see success from true freshmen?
Really encouraging. Two true freshmen, Fred Warner and Sione Takitaki. Both did a really nice job. Sophomore Kai Nacua came in and played really, really well for not having many practice reps at all. Three of the starting four in the secondary were out for that game. Senior Skye PoVey came in and, even though he's not a new player, he came in and played really well. I thought our defense played much better and improved in that game.
Was it the best game from your front three this year?
Travis Tuiloma's best game maybe as a Cougar. Really, really liked Logan Taele and Marques Johnson as well. There were a lot of things that took a step forward in my opinion in that game. Really disappointed we didn't win the game. But again, I was encouraged that the defense played better than they'd been playing. I thought Christian Stewart did a really nice job and then Paul Lasike and Algie Brown stepping up for the lack of Jamaal Williams. I thought that looked good, and I thought Devin Mahina had kind of a breakout game. Glad to see some players stepping up when called on.
What do you expect from Christian Stewart?
I think it'll look more similar to the second half of Central Florida. So first half, still more of a continuation of Utah State–feeling, probing, finding. The second half of UCF was more execution, more deliberate, more specific, more confidence. So our hope is that our Nevada game looks more like the second half of Central Florida.
I think they're a good team, 3-3, but certainly capable. Really good quarterback. Two excellent receivers–same guys as a year ago. I would say kind of a gritty and tough defense.
Is the high tempo a benefit or challenge for Stewart?
I don't think either. He's practiced so much in it that I don't really think that's contributing plus or a minus. I think he's used to it.
How important is it to get the kicks to the goal line?
Not so much getting them to the goal line, but in the target area. And we're really good right now landing it in the target area. In fact, our kick placement is fantastic. Depth isn't as big of a concern. Any kick return that's working well now, especially kickoff return, is really just a lane assignment.