PROVO — Getting healthy.
That's the No. 1 priority for BYU during its bye week.
"We're banged up," said quarterback Riley Nelson. "It's coming at Week 10, which is pretty late in the season. We need it to get healthy."
In addition to participating in light workouts and improving individual techniques, this week is all about recovering from bumps, bruises and injuries.
"Fall camp and then nine straight games kind of wears your body down, wears your team down," Nelson said. "We've definitely felt the effects of that. Just look at who our offensive line was at the beginning of fall camp and then who we're putting out on the field now. It's a credit to our guys and how hard they battle and how hard we've worked this season."
Nelson said he is dealing with AC sprains, lingering back problems he called "upper-spine issues," and knee soreness that all require rest.
"I'm also trying to hone in on my mechanics," Nelson said. "When I hurt my back I had to do a lot of overcompensating to try to still throw the ball and got into some bad habits. I'm trying to break those and get back to the way I was throwing the ball during fall camp and the beginning of the season."
Both the offensive and defensive lines have been ravaged by injuries this season.
"It's unreal," said coach Bronco Mendenhall. "We need a couple of more (linemen) back. So hopefully during the bye week, that will happen. It's going to be hard to finish the season just with the numbers we have."
Linebacker Brandon Ogletree is enjoying the bye week with lots of running and no contact.
"Coach promised us that if we laid it all out on the line (last week at Georgia Tech), he would take care of us this week," he said. "He's kept his promise so far. The bye week's the week to recover and get ready for the next week."
The Cougars host Idaho on Nov. 10 in their home finale.
BLOCK PARTY: Linebacker Kyle Van Noy blocked a punt in the second quarter of BYU's 41-17 victory over Georgia Tech last week, something he and teammate Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah were hoping to do all season long.
"We were close in so many games and finally, like always, getting held, both of us, me and Ziggy," Van Noy said. "We were fighting the pressure and we both beat our guys. I happened to get my hand on it before he did."
Mendenhall credited special teams coach Nick Howell for putting Van Noy and Ansah in position to make the block, which set up a touchdown that gave the Cougars a 21-7 advantage.
"Coach Howell has Ziggy and Kyle in all the critical spots," Mendenhall said. "Those two guys just seem to make football plays. (Van Noy) went around the blocker and blocked it with one hand and changed the game. That's who he is. He's a good player."
SHOVEL PASS PAYS OFF: On the first play of the fourth quarter against Georgia Tech, Nelson tossed a shovel pass to freshman running back Jamaal Williams, who raced 39 yards for a touchdown that put BYU ahead, 38-17.
Mendenhall praised offensive coordinator Brandon Doman for that call.
"It was a fantastic play-call by coach Doman," Mendenhall said. "It was risky, but you couldn't have called a better play. I was happy for coach Doman on that because it's hard to call the right play at the right time vs. the right defense and that's just what he did."
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