BYU football: Bronco Mendenhall says BYU hasn't peaked yet
PROVO — BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall says his team hasn't peaked yet.
So what will the resurgent Cougars do in their final two games against New Mexico and Utah?
Last Saturday, BYU shellacked Colorado State in Fort Collins, 49-10. The Cougars have outscored their last two opponents by a combined 104-17. They have won three consecutive games and four out of their last five.
This week, BYU (5-5, 4-2) hosts New Mexico (1-9, 1-5) in the 2010 home finale with a chance to move past the .500 mark for the first time since winning the season-opener. A victory would also make the Cougars bowl-eligible.
Wide receiver Luke Ashworth, who caught four touchdown passes in the first half against CSU, said he's not thinking too much about bowl games. "That's in the back of my mind," he said, "but we're really focused on New Mexico. Starting Monday, that's all we'll be focused on."
After playing New Mexico, BYU travels to arch-rival Utah.
"We took another step forward in our execution as a football team," Mendenhall said after the win over CSU. "We have two more opportunities in the regular season, and I don't think we've reached our potential yet, and there's an urgency that I feel and I think our team feels to reach that potential."
More than anything, the Cougars are brimming with confidence, and having fun — and it shows.
"We're having a blast out here," said linebacker Brandon Ogletree. "Before, when players made plays, I didn't see teammates getting excited. When guys make plays now, you see 15 dudes jumping around.
"We're not going to say everything's coming together. There's still plenty of stuff we have to work on," Ogletree added. "But the main thing is, I think, that we've noticed that we've improved every week. With that comes confidence. That's big for us ... We've been working so hard in practice lately.. To see things come together like this out on the field boosts our confidence."
"Obviously, there are things we can work out," said quarterback Jake Heaps, who completed 15-of-20 passes for 242 yards and four touchdowns against the Rams. "You're never perfect out there, so we can always improve. But right now, we're playing really good football. We just have to improve from here and not take a backseat."
BYU's offense gained 526 yards of total offense, including 302 on the ground, while the defense forced four fumbles and limited CSU to 83 rushing yards.
For the second straight week, the Cougar 'D' dominated and didn't allow the opponent to score until late in the fourth quarter.
"I think they played very well, very opportunistic. They did a nice job with turnovers," Mendenhall said of the defense. "I think they're gaining confidence. I think they're very excited to play."
"We're going into the game so relaxed and so calm and not nervous," said cornerback Brian Logan, who recorded an interception. "That's what's allowing us to make a lot more plays."
Ogletree said the defense has a competition between the linebackers, the defensive line and secondary to see which defensive group can get the most turnovers. "That's a real focus for us, to cause turnovers and give the ball to the offense and put them in position to score."
Scoring has not been a problem the past two weeks for the Cougars.
"Our offense is driving and playing so well that we've got to turn right back around and get back on the field and I'm getting a little tired," Logan said with a smile. "But I'd rather have it that way than them going three-and-out."
Cougars and Lobos on the air
New Mexico (1-9, 1-5) at BYU (5-5, 4-2)
Saturday, 4 p.m.
LaVell Edwards Stadium
TV: The mtn.
Radio: 1160 AM, 102.7 FM
- Morning links: Former BYU player Paul Lasike...
- BYU football: Fred Warner, other...
- Dick Harmon: As camps open, Utes, Cougs and...
- Utes football fan raising money to put 'Utah'...
- Back from injury, BYU QB Taysom Hill wants...
- Dante Exum returning to Utah after injuring...
- The 1996 NBA Draft redone: How did the Jazz...
- 5 things to look for as BYU heads into fall camp
- 5 things to look for as BYU heads into... 35
- Whittingham says Hatfield is still... 30
- Morning links: BYU's Taysom Hill's... 27
- Mendenhall: BYU's 2015 schedule... 24
- Pac-12 media day: Utah Kyle Whittingham... 17
- Morning links: BYU letting fans... 16
- Dick Harmon: As camps open, Utes, Cougs... 16
- BYU football: Fred Warner, other... 15