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BYU football notebook: Cougars have better defensive speed to combat Jake Locker this time

Published: Monday, Aug. 30 2010 11:39 p.m. MDT

BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall is one win away from being the second Cougar coach to reach 50 victories.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

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PROVO — BYU's defense, which faces speedy Washington quarterback Jake Locker on Saturday, is faster and more athletic than it was a year ago.

"That part is exciting," said coach Bronco Mendenhall.

But that doesn't exactly translate to great results, the coach said. It's still about executing and fulfilling assignments.

"As we all know, when you're playing a zone-read team, which is a small portion of what (the Huskies) do, really, assignments overrule athleticism," Mendenhall explained. "We should be able to, possibly, make up for some mistakes at a higher level with more speed and athleticism, but that can't override the execution and assignment part. So hopefully we'll get to a point, sooner rather than later, where increased speed and athleticism will mesh with very consistent assignments and that will give us a better result. That's when I think we'll see our defense playing the way we're expecting it to."

MEMORIES OF BYU: Washington coach Steve Sarkisian, a former BYU quarterback, was asked Monday by media in Seattle about how he did abiding by the school's honor code.

"I didn't get kicked out," Sarkisian responded jokingly.

He added: "The one thing that was hard for me, I'm not a big shaver. I'll go a couple of days without shaving. At BYU, you're not supposed to have facial hair. That one was tough for me. When you go take a test at the testing center and you're not cleanly shaven and they kick you back out and tell you that you have to go home and shave before you come back and take your test. I had a little bit of a difficult time with that one."

ROTATIONS: Mendenhall was asked how he plans to handle position rotations, particularly at quarterback, tight end and inside linebacker.

"It really isn't my decision at all," he said. "All I've done is set the parameters as to how many are going to play, and then from there, I allow the (assistant) coaches the flexibility to adjust and make those decisions during the game."

Mendenhall said there plenty of tight ends and linebackers will see playing time Saturday.

"My guess is you'll see three, possibly four tight ends. My guess is you'll probably see all five inside linebackers ... By the time it has ended, you'll probably have a really good idea who performed the best and where the reps will start shifting to."

MILESTONE WIN: BYU's first victory of the 2010 season will give Mendenhall his 50th career win as head coach.

Mendenhall, in his sixth season, will become only the second coach in school history to reach the 50-win plateau. LaVell Edwards earned his 50th victory in the middle of his seventh season, in 1978.

ROSTER ADDITIONS: With school beginning Monday, BYU added 15 players to the roster: Levi Gifford (DB), Brian Smith (punter), Luke Nelson (WR), Greg May (DB), Garrett Juergens (DB/RB), Mitchell Juergens (DB/WR), Chase Pendley (LB), Brad Heap (QB), Chris Copier (TE/DE), Dallin McEwen (QB), Jake Webber (DB), Tanner Cox (DB), Seth Probert (LB), Tanner Chidester (LB) and Andrew Cusick (WR).

e-mail: jeffc@desnews.com

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