Rested Cougars travel to face Bearcats on Saturday
PROVO, Utah – Following a bye week, BYU football is back in action at Cincinnati on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. EDT live on the CBS Sports Network.
Live coverage from Nippert Stadium will be on the Cougar IMG Sports Network with Greg Wrubell, which can also be found on Sirius XM 143, 1160 AM, 102.7 FM and BYUcougars.com. IMG’s radio coverage will begin at 1:30 p.m. EDT.
BYUtv will provide pregame and postgame coverage of the matchup, beginning with Countdown to Kickoff starting at 2:30 p.m. EDT. Postgame coverage runs for half an hour after the game on BYUtv.
BYU (4-4) at Cincinnati (4-4, 1-4 AAC)
Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016
Kickoff: 3:32 p.m. EDT
Nippert Stadium (40,000)
SERIES HISTORY. Last year, BYU defeated the Bearcats 38-24 in the two schools' first meeting. Trailing 24-17, BYU scored 21 points in the fourth quarter at LaVell Edwards Stadium. Nick Kurtz had 119 receiving yards and two touchdowns and Algie Brown scored two rushing touchdowns and had 88 rushing yards.
THE AMERICAN. BYU is facing an opponent from the American Athletic Conference, marking the seventh different conference BYU has faced in 2016. The team has already played games against the Pac-12, Big 12, MAC, Big Ten, SEC and Mountain West.
TOUGH SCHEDULE. BYU's 2016 schedule ranks 17th in the Jeff Sagarin USA Today rankings. The Cougars have played six Power 5 teams, going 3-3 against them. Three of the four losses have come at the hands of teams currently ranked in the top 20 (No. 14/15 WVU, No. 16 Utah and No. 24 Boise State).
BYE WEEK. BYU is 11-2 when coming off of a bye week over the past 10 seasons. Both losses came in 2013 against Utah and Wisconsin.
NOVEMBER GAMES. BYU is 31-6 in the month of November over the past 10 seasons.
JIM THORPE AWARD. Defensive back Kai Nacua was named as one of 16 semifinalists for the Jim Thorpe Award, honoring the nation's top defensive back. Nacua is tied for No. 2 nationally in interceptions with five.
Head coach Kalani Sitake
How did the bye week go?
I think the best part about it was we had a lot of guys finally have time to get healed up. We hit the weight room hard and get some guys caught up in academics and everything. The bye week came at the right time, especially for the health reasons. Obviously had some more time to do some recruiting as a staff and also have some extra time to prepare for Cincinnati, so we took advantage of the extra time we had.
What did you take to build off of the Boise State game?
If you would have told me that we didn’t have Jamaal (Williams) going into the game, but we still had a chance to win at the end, I would have taken it. After looking at the game, there were a lot of opportunities that we had to build on the lead and also to make some plays that we weren’t able to capitalize on. That was frustrating, but I was pleased with the effort and the fight in our guys because it gave us a chance to win the game at the end. I think if we would have blocked a little bit better it would have helped. You have to give Boise State credit because they literally just pushed our guys out of the way and blocked that kick. We have had a lot of close games and it would have been great to have won that game with the field goal.
They just have to catch the ball, there’s no other way to say it other than that. That was disappointing because I thought those were big-time opportunities that could have helped us out and to stay on the field and continue driving and possibly get more points on the board. We will just have to keep working with it and make sure that we have the right guys out there making plays. It’s an expectation of our receivers- to block down field for our running backs and we expect them to catch the ball.
Make of Cincinnati?
They are a really good team and they have some really athletic guys. We have been looking at them and the Houston film was really impressive. They have a great coaching staff; I think I say the same thing every week about every team. We have gone against great teams for the first eight games and this one will be no different. We are expecting their best shot and we are looking forward to it.
Focus on Cincinnati during the bye week?
We focused on just our team and the Cincinnati game. You have to take advantage of the bye week and Cincinnati was our focus and keeping our guys healthy and progressing. We’ve focused a lot on our young guys and developing the depth and technique. Cincinnati is our next opponent and we focus on them and we have just been focusing on them since the end of the Boise game.
Senior DL Harvey Langi
Most important thing to get done during a bye week?
I think getting rest and mentally prepared. There’s definitely more time to watch film and get down formations and personnel and see what they do and like to do on certain downs. A lot of us are out there doing extra work and getting footwork right. Taysom (Hill) was out there throwing and the receivers were catching. Anything you feel like you want to work on personally during is perfect to do during the bye week.
How do you feel personally about your performance?
I feel like I am not where I can be and should be, but I think that’s all of us. We just always have that mentality that we can work better, but I just feel like an amateur from watching other linebackers. I watch where others put their hands, how their footwork is, and how they use momentum. I just feel like an amateur and that I’m learning. I really do love learning and I love playing football. I don’t care where I play, I just love playing football. In my mind when you leave a game from playing in the trenches, the feeling you get after leaving is so different. The trenches are just war and you almost feel like a ghost after the game. It is a different mind-set, but I love playing and what I’m learning.
What does defense need to change the most heading into November?
We take pride in stopping the run. I feel like we need to use that mentality and pride in the pass as well. That all starts with the defensive line. We need to get the quarter back moving. If he is not moving, then the corners are just running with those guys all day long, so we need to get to the quarterback.
Junior TE Tanner Balderree
On the off week
We did a lot of lifting, trying to get strong again from what’s tapered off during the season. It’s always hard. We’ve been lucky this year with our new program and it’s been able to sustain our strength better than the past couple years. It’s been really helpful. I’ve felt strong throughout the season, but there is still the inevitability that it’s going to taper off during the season. So this last week was good to help with that.
After Boise State
We still have a lot to do. We’re close, and we almost won the game even after making all the mistakes we did even on offense. We’re a good team, but we just haven’t quite put a full game together yet. We still have a lot of potential we can reach and we’re working every day to get there.
On the offensive mentality
We’re just working on focusing and doing a good job. I think everyone is capable of doing a good job, and we have a lot of good athletes on the team. It’s about not worrying about what someone else is doing, it’s about focusing on your job with the technique you’ve been taught.
They work really hard. Similar to what we’ve seen with Toledo and Boise, they are more on the athletic side. Their interior linemen are very good and very athletic. They are an athletic, fast team all-around, and they rely on their speed a lot to get to the ball and make plays. So we need to be ready for that again.
Junior OL Tuni Kanuch
What motivates you to finish the season strong?
We’re competitors. No one wants to lose, even if you’ve had upsets or been upset before. We want to win. We love BYU, we love the fans and we love each other. We’ve worked too hard all year to give up just because we lost a couple of games. They were really close games so we know we can play ball. We play a lot of good teams. We have one of the hardest schedules I’ve ever seen. I’m proud of my team. We have losses that we’re sad about, but we’re not ashamed of how we play.
It was good. I think it brought more hunger to the group. We were hungry, but sometimes through the season, you get a little beat up. There’s a lot of football going on, you’re overwhelmed, you have to catch up with school. We conditioned. All we did was run and lift. Today, I felt like everyone was amped to be in pads, ready to hit, ready to go over the schemes. I feel we’re more prepared to play football this week.
O-line against Boise State
There was some confusion between us, so there were a lot of things we had to clean up in film. I’m going to give it to Boise’s defense. They’re good. They run, they work hard. They’re great football players. We weren’t assignment sound. That came from us as players and the leaders of the o-line not being prepared enough for ourselves. The coaches did everything they could for us and it gets to a point where the players have to step up.
Good time for the bye week?
We had a couple of early games in a row, so I feel it’s a perfect time to have a bye week and rest up. It’s a good time to look at the bigger picture. Football is everything while we’re playing it, but when we have time off, there is a lot more to life.
I think they’re really good. We played them last year. They have two inside D-line that I know are coming back—they’re starters. I think they’re very physical. They two-gap very well. We better prepared, but I know that we will be.
Junior DL Handsome Tanielu
I’m a little banged up, personally. I’ve been struggling with a torn elbow ligament, so it was good to give it time to build some strength. As a team, it was really good for us—all we did was run and lift. It also made us a little hungry. Last night, I was thinking about how I can’t wait to put on my helmet. We only have four games left in the season. As a junior, it’s scaring me a little bit as it comes to the end. The bye week definitely was needed.
The emotional level and experiences we have had as a team is incredible. These close games, win or lose, are good experiences. They give you feelings that you can’t ever forget. When it happens to be on your side of the table and is a victory, it’s awesome. Even when it doesn’t, it still was pretty cool and will still be remembered as a good fight. The emotions at the Boise State game were definitely there, but you can’t do anything about it now.
Rotating in the defense
With this new defense BYU has been using, you have to rotate. To play a four down front, you have to be a dirty dog. You can’t be a tired dog. Your ears need to be pinned back and you need to be ready to go. You have to have a really good defensive line and have fresh legs out there. It’s not sitting there and reacting. You want them to react to you. So the rotations are important and we need to make sure that the guys waiting to go in are ready.
They have a good, well-rounded team. They are similar to us in a lot of areas. Specifically, they have a really good passing game and I think it’ll be fun to get to their quarterback.
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