Brian Nicholson, Deseret News
PROVO — When BYU announced it was going independent in football in 2011, athletic director Tom Holmoe outlined the program's goals in scheduling.
"Our vision is to play football games across the country against many of the storied football programs in their legendary stadiums and for those same highly regarded programs to return to Provo to play in LaVell Edwards Stadium," he said.
Holmoe added that in the short-term, there will be "a transition period of a couple of years before we achieve the full vision of what football independence can become. To that point we are grateful to a group of schools in the WAC who have agreed to play us in 2011 and 2012 to help us get started in this endeavor."
Days later, BYU announced a home-and-home deal with Central Florida, beginning next season.
As of now, the Cougars' 2011 schedule is expected to feature Texas, Oregon State, Central Florida, Hawaii, Utah State, Louisiana Tech, New Mexico State, San Jose State and Idaho. An announcement is expected to come soon about a matchup with arch-rival Utah, who jumps to the Pac-10 next season. After Wednesday's practice, coach Bronco Mendenhall said BYU's 2011 schedule "is basically done."
Once the contracts are signed, an announcement will follow, Mendenhall said.
The coach has been very involved in the scheduling process and cited three criteria being used in scheduling opponents.
"I like the idea of playing a national schedule and that we cover the country, making sure our fans and church members around the country can see us play," Mendenhall said. "I like the idea of having natural rivalries and intriguing matchups."
He also would like to play against schools "that have a very unique campus, or traditions."
He specifically mentioned opponents like Hawaii, Notre Dame and Boston College. BYU and Notre Dame have agreed to a six-game series that will run through 2020. Mendenhall has previously said he would like to play the military academies — Army, Navy and Air Force. He has also expressed interest in setting up games with teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference and the Big Ten. One team he has mentioned by name was Northwestern.
Rumored possible future foes include Texas Tech, Clemson, North Carolina, Miami, Wisconsin, and Michigan.
LIVELY COMPETITION: While most of the focus is on the rotation at quarterback and tight end at BYU, there are continuing battles at inside linebacker as well.
The Cougars have five players, including senior Shane Hunter, who saw action at the "mike" and the "buck," the two inside linebacker spots, against Washington.
"Aveni Leung-Wai showed his athleticism and speed, which we knew that he had in fall camp, so we were impressed with that," Mendenhall said. "Austen Jorgensen was very physical and played consistently. Probably the best combination of both after week one was Brandon Ogletree. He played fast, assignment-sound, and physical. We were encouraged. (True freshman) Zac Stout didn't get as many reps as we were hoping. The evaluation is still on-going. The good news is, we think we have four good players and a fifth, a young player, who will continue to develop and be evaluated."
This week, however, with a game against Air Force's triple option attack, that evaluation may have to be delayed.
"We're under the gun a little bit because when you play against Air Force, the week is never long enough," Mendenhall said. "The more you divide the reps between multiple players, the worse your execution is. We may be forced this week to make some hard decisions because of whom we're playing — only for this week because of the nature of the game, then opening it up more for the following week."
APO OUT: BYU true freshman wide receiver Ross Apo sustained an open dislocation of his left index finger during Wednesday's practice and underwent surgery. He is expected to be sidelined for approximately six weeks.
According to BYU officials, the 6-foot-3, 200-pound Apo "will work to come back as soon as possible."
Apo, regarded as one of the nation's top high school wide receivers last year, did not play receiver in the Cougars' opening-season victory over Washington last week.
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