GAME NOTES: Cougars Travel to #5 USC
COUGARS TRAVEL TO FIFTH-RANKED USC
Fresh of a 24-13 season-opening victory against Georgia Tech on Thursday, Aug. 28, the Cougars will travel to Los Angeles to take on fifth-ranked USC at the Coliseum. Game time is slated for 5 p.m. (PDT) and will be broadcast to a split-national television audience on ABC (KTVX, Ch. 4). The Trojans are 1-0 on the season after blanking sixth-ranked Auburn, 23-0, on Saturday.
COMPLETE BROADCAST PLANS
Saturday's game will be broadcast live to a split-national television audience on ABC, beginning at 5 p.m. (PT). College football's most recognizable announcer, Keith Jackson, will call the action, with NFL great Dan Fouts lending color analysis. BYU alum Todd Harris will report from the sidelines. ABC will broadcast the game along the West Coast, in addition to Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota. The game will also be broadcast in northwest Nebraska, northern Iowa and northern Wisconsin. (Check local listings.) Fans can also tune to KSL 1160-AM with the broadcast team of Greg Wrubell, Marc Lyons and Bill Riley.
BYU vs. THE PAC-10
Saturday's first-ever game against USC will mark the Cougars' 78th game against a current Pac-10 opponent. BYU has recorded a 27-49-1 (.357) record against team now in the Pac-10. Prior to Saturday, the Cougars have played eight of the 10 teams, including Arizona (8-10-1), Arizona State (7-20), California (2-0), Oregon (2-3), Oregon State (3-5), UCLA (1-6), Washington (2-4) and Washington State (2-1). This season, BYU compete in first-ever meetings against the remaining two members of the Pac-10, including USC and Stanford. Since 1999, The Cougars have recorded a 3-0 mark against teams in the Pac-10, including wins over Washington (1999) and Cal (1999, 2001).
COATS NAMED MWC PLAYER OF THE WEEK
BYU freshman tight end Daniel Coats was named the Mountain West Offensive Player of the Week after helping the Cougars to a 24-13 season-opening victory over Georgia Tech. Coats shares the weekly honor with Utah running back Brandon Warfield. 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. 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. With his performance on Thursday, Coats is the nation's top tight end with an average 6.0 receptions and 93.0 yards per game. He is also the nation's second-leading freshman receiver.
LAST WEEK (BYU 24, Georgia Tech 13)
Trailing 13-7 at the half, the Cougars rallied in the second half to outscore Georgia Tech, 17-0, enroute to a 24-13 season-opening victory over the Yellow Jackets. Sophomore Matt Berry led the BYU offense, connecting on 31 of 46 attempts for 276 yards, his third highest career output. Berry was also credited with three touchdown receptions, including a 38-yard lob over the top to tight end Daniel Coats to give the Cougars a 7-3 lead in the first quarter. On the opening drive of the third quarter, Berry again found Coats for what would be the game-winning touchdown--a 15-yard touchdown strike to give the Cougars a 14-13 lead. Later in the third quarter, senior receiver Toby Christensen made a spectacular, diving catch in the endzone to put BYU up 21-13. All-American candidate Matt Payne sealed the game in the fourth quarter with a 24-yard field goal to give the Cougars a 24-13 advantage with 2:32 left in the game. With much attention focused on new defensive coordinator Bronco Mendenhall, and the new-and-improved defense, the Cougars held the Ramblin' Wreck to just 243 yards of total offense, including only 96 yards rushing and 147 yards passing. More importantly, the BYU defense did not allow a single touchdown on the night, and pitched a second-half shutout. In fact, in the second half, the Cougars' defense held Georgia Tech to just 20 yards rushing and 42 yards passing. The Cougars forced two punts, three fumbles and had one interception to halt six of Georgia Tech's 10 drives on the night.
- Thursday's victory over Georgia Tech marked the second win over an ACC opponent. The Cougars are 2-5 overall against teams from the ACC. The team's only other victory over an ACC foe came in an overtime thriller at Virginia during the 2000 season.
- Thursday's game marked the fourth time in the past five years the Cougars have opened the season in Provo. In that span, BYU has recorded a perfect 4-0 record. Including Thursday's victory, BYU has tallied a 48-28-2 (.628) record in season-openers, dating back to 1922. When playing in the season-opener in Provo, the Cougars are 27-10-1 (.724).
- Last season the Cougars gave up an average 2.9 turnovers per game. On Thursday, the Cougars forced four turnovers, while giving up only two for a +2 advantage.
- After Georgia Tech blocked a BYU punt in the second quarter, Nathan Burton returned the ball 18-yards for a touchdown, marking the first time since the 1993 season the Cougars have had a blocked punt returned for a touchdown.
- Dating back to the New Mexico game last season (Nov. 16, 2002), the Cougars have not permitted a first-quarter touchdown, spanning a stretch of three-straight games. While BYU gave up two field goals against Georgia Tech on Thursday, the Cougars' defense did not allow a first-quarter touchdown. Georgia Tech had a first-and-goal from the BYU four yard line, and a first-and-10 from the BYU 12-yard line. Both times the BYU defense held and forced the Yellow Jackets to kick a field goal.
- With all eyes on the new-and-improved defense, the Cougars stepped up to the challenge against Georgia Tech. While the Yellow Jackets scored 13 points, the BYU defense did not allow a single touchdown. After giving up an average 384.7 yards per game in 2002, BYU held Georgia Tech to just 243 total yards -- 141.7 yards less than last year's season average. A year ago, the BYU defense gave up 177.8 yards rushing and 206.9 yards passing per contest. Thursday, 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.)
- The Cougars dominated the time-of-possession battle against Georgia Tech, controlling the clock 18:12 longer than the Yellow Jackets.
THE STREAK IS STILL ALIVE ... 351 GAMES AND COUNTING
With Matt Berry's 38-yard touchdown pass to Daniel Coats in the first quarter, BYU extended its NCAA-record streak to 351 games without being shutout. BYU was last shutout during the 1975 season (Sept. 27, 1975 vs. Arizona State.) The Cougars do not have a single player on their roster who was alive the last time BYU was shutout.
Senior defensive back Brandon Heaney suffered a 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 on the injured shoulder within the next week and is likely to miss the remainder of the season. Senior defensive back Jernaro Gilford suffered a hand injury against the Yellow Jackets. He will be in a cast until Tuesday or Wednesday when his condition will be re-evaluated. While there is a possibility he may be outfitted with a rubberized cast, Gilford will play against USC. Running back Marcus Whalen suffered a foot injury during pre-game warm-ups. Whalen was accidentally stepped on by a teammate during pre-game drills. Whalen will miss the USC game and has been listed as "possible" for the New Mexico contest next weekend.
Since 1980, BYU has had 64 different opportunities to repay an opponent for a previous loss. When the Cougars face an opponent, having lost in the previous meeting, they have recorded a 42-22 (.656) record. Since Nov. 7, 1998, BYU has lost only one game to an opponent in a payback situation, posting a 16-1 record. BYU knocked off Syracuse on Aug. 29, 2002 and held off Hawaii on Sept. 6, 2002 for two straight payback opportunities last season. In 2003, the Cougars have posted a 1-0 record in payback opportunities, defeating Georgia Tech, 24-13, in the first of six payback games this season. Of the six payback opportunities, the Cougars will face four opponents in Provo.
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 USC defensive line (one senior and three juniors) that tips the scales at an average 275.0 pounds per man. On defense, the Cougars' line (two seniors and a junior) weighs in at 280.3 pounds per man, while the Trojan offensive line (three seniors, a freshman and a sophomore) average 292.0 pounds per man.
Since the NCAA instituted overtime in 1996, the Cougars have played four overtime games, posting a perfect 4-0 record. Of the over 30 teams which have played four or more overtime games, the Cougars are the only team to post a perfect 4-0 record. Interestingly, the Cougars have never played an overtime game in Provo.
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 is off to a 1-0 start this season. The Cougars are 169-52 (.765) in Provo, dating back 40 years (1963), including a 10-4 (.714) home record against MWC opponents since 1999.
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 127-90-3 (.584) 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.
BYU AGAINST FIRST-EVER OPPONENTS
Saturday's game will mark the first-ever meeting between the Cougars and Trojans. Over the years, the Cougars have posted a 42-47-1 (.472) record when facing off against a team for the first time. Entering his sixth season as a head coach, including three years at Louisiana Tech, Gary Crowton has posted a 21-13 (.618) record against opponents he has coached against for the first time.
BEST IN THE MOUNTAIN WEST
In the four-year history of the Mountain West Conference, the Cougars have posted a 19-9 record against league opponents. During that span, the Cougars have registered a combined, overall record of 32-19 (.627). Overall, the Cougars have won more league titles, and have been to more bowl games than any other team in the MWC. BYU has won two of the four MWC titles. Of the seven MWC opponents, none have a winning record against the Cougars. While Air Force, Colorado State and Utah have a 2-2 record against BYU, the Cougars own a winning record over four MWC opponents, including New Mexico (3-1), San Diego State (3-1), UNLV (3-1) and Wyoming (4-0).
In the season-opener against Georgia Tech, the Cougars were flagged 16 times for 132 yards, marking the most yardage since having 140 yards stepped off at Nevada last season. The all-time, single-game record for most penalty yardage against the Cougars remains at 219 (vs. Weber State on sept. 17, 1975). The 16 penalties marks the most flags thrown against the Cougars since being called for 18 penalties against Wyoming in 1990. Including the victory over Wyoming in 1990, the Cougars have had 44 games with 10 or more penalties called against them. Last season, BYU had a single-season record six games with 10 or more penalties. Prior, both the 1993 and 1991 teams had five games with 10 or more penalties. Including he 1990 Wyoming game, BYU has posted a record of 27-16 (.628) when it has been flagged 10 or more times. The record for most penalties called against the Cougars in a game stands at 22 (vs. Utah State; Oct. 18, 1980).
TURNOVER A NEW LEAF
Last season the Cougars gave up an average 2.9 turnovers per game. Last Thursday, the Cougars forced four turnovers, while giving up only two for a +2 advantage. Jon Burbidge not only forced a fumble, but also recorded an interception on the night. Burbige also had another interception, but it was called back due to a BYU penalty. Aaron Francisco also got a little greedy, forcing one fumble while being credited with two fumble recoveries. Jernaro Gilford was also credited with a forced fumble, and Brandon Heaney a fumble recovery.
IN THE RED ZONE
In the Cougars' season-opener, BYU scored on 3-of-4 trips inside Georgia Tech's 20-yard line, including two touchdowns and a field goal. Defensively, the Cougars gave up two field goals, and forced a fumble inside the Red Zone. In one of the best red zone defensive series of the night, Georgia Tech had a first-and-goal from the Cougars' four-yard line. Linebacker Mike Tanner and Cougarback Aaron Francisco stopped P.J. Daniels for a one-yard to bring up second and goal from the three-yard line. After a delay of game penalty, Tech quarterback Reggie Ball threw the ball away as the Cougars applied exceptional defensive coverage. Facing third and goal from the eight-yard line, defensive end John Denney swatted Ball's pass attempt to force fourth-and-goal from the eight-yard line. The Yellow Jackets managed a a 26-yard field goal after having the ball inside the four-yard line.