FORT WORTH — The guy responsible for trying to stop BYU quarterback Riley Nelson in the Armed Forces Bowl is the same guy that recruited Nelson out of high school, and coached him at Utah State in 2006.
That guy would be Brent Guy — the former Aggie head coach and Tulsa's first-year defensive coordinator.
Friday's showdown (10 a.m. MT, ESPN) between the Cougars and Golden Hurricane offers an unexpected reunion for Nelson and Guy.
"Coach Guy had a big impact on me as a true freshman, coming out of high school, being thrown into a tough situation," Nelson recalled. "He's a man that I respect and admire. He taught me a lot of life lessons that I still to this day think back on. He was big on accountability and personal responsibility.
"I don't know if our relationship in 2006 has much bearing on the game plan, but it's fun. I hope to get the opportunity to thank him for all that he did for me."
Nelson started the final eight games of the 2006 season under Guy, throwing for 925 yards and rushing for 290 more.
Guy knows all about the challenge that Nelson presents the Golden Hurricane defense.
"He's a very smart football player. He loves the game of football and he's very passionate about it," Guy said. "He's going to study and he's going to be ready to do whatever he has to do to win the football game. What I remember the most about him is that he doesn't really look like a guy that would scare you running the ball, but he can make plays running the ball, and he continues to do that now."
While Nelson said he's a much different quarterback than he was when he played in Logan, Guy doesn't necessarily see it that way.
"He's the same," Guy said. "Like I said, he's a smart guy. When you leave a guy uncovered or open, he's going to throw it to him. He's going to pull it down and run it. He's going to know where the sticks are. He's going to make sure the sticks keep moving. When he set all those records in high school, that's how he did it, and I think he's still the same guy."
Nelson left to serve an LDS mission to Spain after his freshman year. During his mission, Nelson opted to transfer to BYU and he joined the Cougars in 2009. Guy was fired by Utah State after the 2008 campaign.
Nelson said he owes a lot to his former coach.
"Coach Guy was a good friend and mentor as my head coach. He was very open with any question I had," Nelson said. "I know for him not having tons of exposure to the LDS faith, that going on a mission and leaving football behind was kind of a foreign idea to him. But he treated me with the utmost respect. He respected my decision and encouraged me. I have a lot of respect and admiration for coach Guy."
Guy faced BYU twice during his tenure at Utah State, falling 38-0 in 2006 and 34-14 in 2008. What does Guy think about facing the Cougars again?
"They have big offensive linemen, as always. They always have 6-foot-6 guys that weigh 300 pounds," he said. "We've seen individuals this big, but we haven't faced five guys as big as these guys since early September. They're running the ball well. It's not the old BYU, when you think of BYU and the West Coast offense and throwing the ball everywhere. They're more of a ball-control team."
After leaving Utah State, Guy served as Louisville's defensive coordinator and linebacker coach before spending last season as the linebacker coach and recruiting coordinator at UNLV. He joined Tulsa coach Bill Blankenship's staff last January.
Guy, who played college football at Oklahoma State, hopes his familiarity with BYU will help in Friday's game.
"One thing I've told our guys is, they're going to be big and physical," he said. "A lot of them are more mature kids. Guys that go on missions are a lot more mature than 19-year-olds that have only been on a college campus for two years. They don't get rattled very easily. They kind of stay the course.8 comments on this story
"If you watch the Ole Miss and Texas games, those were games that show what type of team BYU is. We're going to have our hands full on defense. We need to be able to get the ball back to our offense. Getting them in third-and-long (situations) will be a victory for us because they don't do that very much."
Nelson said Guy will have Tulsa's defense ready for the bowl game.
"He's a great coach. He gets his guys to play hard," Nelson said. "At Utah State, we were a very young team in 2006. But you could watch the film and say, 'Boy, they play hard for him.' That's what I've seen on film from Tulsa. They're also very talented. It will be a tough battle."