PROVO — BYU's football team has traveled thousands of miles — to the deep South and deep into the heart of Texas — during the first two weeks of the season.
The Cougars, who split road games at Ole Miss and Texas, are ready to open their home schedule and meet archrival Utah at LaVell Edwards Stadium. It marks the first home game for BYU since a 40-7 victory over New Mexico last Nov. 20.
"It's good to come home, especially after having the first two games on the road in the environments like the SEC and Big (12)," said senior safety Travis Uale. "We're excited to come home and play in front of our fans, especially for me, to have my family come to the game is a big thing for me."
"I think the timing is great," coach Bronco Mendenhall said of his team's home opener. "Our team actually responded really well to both of our road challenges and competed very hard, while the execution certainly can keep improving."
BYU has won four consecutive home games, with its last loss coming at the hands of Nevada last September. The Cougars have won two straight games against the Utes in Provo, including a 2009 overtime victory.
STUDENT SEATING: BYU students will be sitting in three different sections throughout Edwards Stadium this year. Mendenhall said he is in favor of them sitting in a group.
"I would love all of the students to be together. I think that's one of the unique things about college settings," he said. "I love the stadiums where the gates open early and the students have a section they're racing to get into and they are there really early and staying late.
"I'm looking to promote that. I didn't have the final decision, but I was an endorser of that idea. I think it would just be one more thing to add to the stadium experience for the students but also to make LaVell Edwards Stadium even more of a home field advantage for us."
BRONCO AND KYLE: Mendenhall was asked Monday about his relationship with Utah coach Kyle Whittingham.
"Professional is the best way to describe it. It really doesn't go beyond that," Mendenhall said.
The coach acknowledged that it's not anything like the jovial relationship between former Cougar coach LaVell Edwards and former Ute counterpart Ron McBride.
"We both tried early on, but then realized that I wasn't LaVell and that he wasn't Ron McBride," Mendenhall said. "That was such a unique relationship between those two in such a hostile circumstance. If you were to say what would be the ideal for any rivalry … I really respected how they handled it. And Kyle and I are different."
Linebacker Jordan Pendleton, who suffered an ankle injury in the loss at Texas, will probably sit out of practice for a few days but is expected to play Saturday, too.
SORENSEN HONORED: BYU sophomore placekicker Justin Sorensen was named the national independent special teams player of the week for his performance at Texas.
Sorensen nailed field goals from 30, 33 and 32 yards and hit his only PAT attempt. The former Bingham High star also booted a touchback and forced the Longhorns to start at or inside their own 20-yard line on three of his five kickoffs.
Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd and Navy linebacker Matt Warrick earned the independent offensive and defensive players of the week honors, respectively.