Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
PROVO — Earlier this week, BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall was asked which play in his six years as a head coach in the Rivalry Game haunts him the most.
It wasn't hard for him to come up with one — Utah's block of a Cougar field goal attempt in the waning seconds of last year's game at Rice-Eccles Stadium as the Utes emerged victorious, 17-16.
What else does Mendenhall remember about that contest last November?
"I remember just being really proud of our team. I felt like we were in control of the game from beginning to end," he said. "It was just the next step to a tough start to a season that was just unfolding and we were gaining momentum."
The Cougars had overcome a 1-4 start to the year and had won four straight games going into their showdown with the Utes. BYU held a 13-0 lead going into the fourth quarter, but Utah roared back to score 17 fourth-quarter points.
The coach enjoyed watching then-true freshman quarterback Jake Heaps lead the Cougar offense.
"To watch Jake drive us down at the very end, kind of methodically, was similar to how the game had gone," Mendenhall said. "I was proud of our team, I was impressed with our team. Just very frustrated that we weren't able to kick it through the uprights (at the end of the game). I also remember thinking the series of events with the punt that bounced off one of our players' feet, then a fumble that was called after an interception return … it was just a wild finish."
NO BULLETIN BOARD MATERIAL: BYU's team captains were careful not to provide any bulletin board material for Utah this week.
"If there are any questions that we don't feel comfortable with, coach says to pass them on to him," said running back Bryan Kariya. "We don't want to stir up anything more than is already there. I think there's a lot of hype about this game. I don't think that we need to contribute to any of that. We just need to focus on what we can do and what we can control."
WYNN'S ARM: One of the topics of discussion this week has been the arm of Utah quarterback Jordan Wynn, who underwent shoulder surgery during the offseason.
"The biggest difference I've seen in Jordan Wynn is his delivery," Mendenhall said when asked what he's noticed on film about Wynn. "I don't know if it's affected his accuracy or his arm strength, but the delivery is a different mechanic than he had before his injury. Maybe it will eventually get back to where it was. But I think he is still an effective quarterback. He's helping their football team. But there is a difference in how he's throwing the ball in terms of his delivery. The rest of the season will determine how productive he is. That's the difference I've seen at least through two games."
BYU VS. PAC-12: Under Mendenhall, BYU is 3-3 against Utah. Against the rest of the Pac-12, the Cougars are 7-4 under Mendenhall, with wins over Oregon (2006), Arizona (2007), UCLA (2007, 2008), Washington (2008, 2010) and Oregon State (2009).
NO. 3 THE CHARM? Over the past six seasons, BYU has averaged 22.9 points in its first two games, while scoring an average of 36.2 points in its third game of the season. So far this year, the Cougars are averaging 15 points per game.
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