Dick Harmon: BYU offense must be as clean as its defense
PROVO — BYU’s quick turnaround for Thursday’s game at Boise State isn’t easy.
It would help if it were against a cupcake. It isn’t.
And it would help if it were in a partially-filled stadium with less passionate fans.
But drawing Boise State is what it is. It is a huge challenge for a Cougar squad with abbreviated practice time.
It's like putting the Kardashian women before one mirror just five minutes before air time.
Can it be done?
We shall see.
I saw legendary coach LaVell Edwards on Monday at a charity golf event at Talons Cove, and somewhere in our short chat came the topic of preparing for a Thursday night game.
One of the difficult things, said Edwards, is simply healing bumps, bruises and sore bodies without that extra couple of days to just recover.
A few moments later I saw former NFL All-Pro tight end Chad Lewis and asked him the same question. If you know Lewis, you know what kind of answer you’d get. Players can’t worry about quick turnarounds, reduced schedule or sped up practice sessions on a short week. “You either play or you quit,” Lewis said.
In other words, nobody can do anything about it. You just have to man up and do your job and play the game.
Boise State has college football’s mother-of-all home field advantages the past dozen years. Since 2000, the Broncos, playing on their famous blue turf, have gone 75-3 for a .962 win percentage. That is the best in the country.
Bronco Stadium is loud, disruptive and filled with fans who sell their lungs for the cause.
After watching BYU struggle with crowd noise in Rice Eccles Stadium last Saturday with serial false start penalties and two center hikes that went rolling toward the other end zone, this is a challenge for Bronco Mendenhall’s squad.
This is disturbing on several fronts.
BYU has a veteran football team with 29 seniors — a lot of maturity. If BYU starts winning, it's the kind of team that will receive those famous jabs by foes and media for their age, marriages and kids.
But its offensive line is young. And against Utah, the noise got to them.
Can that be turned around in a few days?
It helps to have a senior quarterback in Riley Nelson. But that didn’t prevent a botched snap that was returned 47 yards for a touchdown at Utah that essentially broke open a fairly even game.
BYU’s antsy issues before a hostile crowd were not lost on Boise State coach Chris Petersen, who watched the late Saturday night game on TV live before he broke down game films.
“Yes, I know how important the crowd is,” Petersen told reporters on Monday. “And I’m being 100 percent serious. Crowd noise is very difficult to deal with. If we can have our crowd as loud as it can be, it will definitely help us.”
Petersen also knows there are a lot of BYU fans in the Boise area. He hopes many of them don’t make it to Bronco Stadium Thursday night.
This challenge of handling crowd noise is a big trial for Riley Nelson and his young offensive line.
Nelson is a senior QB on a veteran senior-laden team. I don’t want to put it all on him, and it may not be fair to do so, but it has to start with him.
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