Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News
PROVO — Longtime BYU assistant Lance Reynolds, who is wrapping up his 28th season on the coaching staff, has some theories as to why the Cougars are faring better in bowl games than they used to.
Under coach Bronco Mendenhall, BYU has a 4-2 record in bowls while legendary LaVell Edwards' record was 7-14-1.
The Cougars are looking to win their third consecutive bowl game for the first time in school history when they face Tulsa in Friday's Armed Forces Bowl.
"You can't ever know what it is," Reynolds said about the bowl record, though he has some possible explanations.
The first factor, Reynolds said, is the indoor practice facility, which was completed in 2003. "I was thinking about that when it was snowing (the other day)," he said. "It was difficult for us to throw in the cold weather. In here, we can throw it. That's one advantage."
Secondly, Reynolds said, Mendenhall has a solid bowl preparation plan that helps limit the distractions.
"I think is the routine of the bowl, how you practice and what you do and when you do it, we've got that down. Coach Mendenhall does a nice job of that, preparing the guys and focusing them on the bowl game."
The third factor? "The team you're playing," Reynolds said.
Reynolds would also like to dispel the notion that Edwards didn't take bowl games seriously. Is that a myth?
"Yeah, totally," he said. "When you take the program to the first bowl game, that's an experience. I think people for some reason got the idea that we didn't take it serious. If you watch LaVell, his persona about him, you could have said that about any game. I don't think he was any different for the bowl game than he was at any other time of the year. It's way a myth."
POST-CHRISTMAS BOWLS: For the first time since BYU has been to bowl games under Mendenhall, the Cougars are playing in a bowl after Christmas.
Mendenhall likes the fact his players were able to get final exams out of the way before preparing for the bowl game.
"It's a tough tradeoff, but I don't want the kids to have to do what they've done with finals and practice again," he said. "That's too difficult. Even though we have to work around Christmas, I'd rather do that."
"It was a lot of fun. He's battled through a lot of injuries and tried to make it a good season," Matt said. "He made a lot of improvement and secured his spot as a starter."
However, Houston recently underwent shoulder surgery and will not play in the Armed Forces Bowl.
"He's doing really well," Matt said. "It looks like he'll be ready to go for next season."
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