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BYU football notebook: Idaho's Gesser wears many hats

Published: Saturday, Nov. 10 2012 7:00 a.m. MST

Brigham Young quarterback Riley Nelson looks to throw against the Notre Dame during the first half of an NCAA college football game in South Bend, Ind., Saturday, Oct. 20, 2012. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Michael Conroy, ASSOCIATED PRESS

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PROVO — Idaho's Jason Gesser is going into his second game as a college head coach Saturday when the Vandals visit BYU.

Gesser, a former quarterback at Washington State, became the interim head coach a couple of weeks ago when Robb Akey was terminated. In addition to being the coach, Gesser, 33, is also the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

Senior quarterback Logan Bushnell will start, after completing 14-of-29 passes for 196 yards in the Vandals' 42-13 setback to San Jose State last week. Bushnell threw a pick-six and was sacked five times.

"I'm very proud of the way Logan played," Gesser said. "He just needs more reps."

Bushnell replaced Dominique Blackman — who started the previous seven games — who was dismissed from the team due to failed drug tests.

Idaho has had more turnovers — 27 — than any other FBS team.

"Idaho is a team that has struggled with consistency on both offense and defense," said BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall. "In stretches they show capability, then they've had issues turning over the football and just maintaining a high level of execution from the beginning of the game to the end of the game. I think that's been their greatest challenge."

Cougar quarterback Riley Nelson is expecting a battle from Gesser and his team. Last year, Nelson suffered lung and rib injuries against the Vandals.

"I'm sure he's competitor. He's a young guy, so I'm sure he brings a lot of energy and fire," Nelson said. "I can tell his players play hard for him. I've been on a team that's in a situation like they are and I know how hard it is to maintain that fight they four quarters. They played San Jose State tough through the first portion of the game. They're not going to come in here and lay down. We'll see what happens."

STEPHENSON A SEMIFINALIST: BYU senior punter Riley Stephenson is one of 10 semifinalists for the 2012 Ray Guy Award, emblematic of the nation's best punter.

The semifinalists were chosen from a field of 69 candidates.

Stephenson has punted 42 times this season for 1,971 yards, an average of 46.9 yards per punt. He ranks No. 4 in the country in punting, and 21 of his punts have traveled at least 50 yards. Stephenson has had 19 punts land inside the 20-yard line.

EXTRA POINTS: BYU is 8-1 after bye weeks under Mendenhall … Cougar wide receiver Cody Hoffman has caught a pass in 28 consecutive games … Idaho has scored only three rushing touchdowns this season. BYU running back Jamaal Williams scored three rushing touchdowns in the win over Georgia Tech.

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