PROVO — There was certainly a new vibe around the BYU football team when it convened for practice Monday.
A convincing win over Texas — coming a week after a crushing loss to Virginia — has the team feeling positive and even more determined to improve.
“It’s a lot better,” BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said of the team‘s overall vibe this week, as opposed to last week. “It’s a lot better from the head coach’s perspective, the player’s perspective, the fan’s perspective, and it gives everyone something positive to talk about.”
The Texas win changed just about everyone’s perspective on BYU’s season. Instead of working to merely salvage a bowl berth, many feel the Cougars are now equal to their remaining schedule and could be poised to make some noise nationally.
First things first, however, as the Cougars' attention now turns toward Utah.
The team won't begin specific preparations for Utah until Wednesday, according to Mendenhall, but the importance of the game is certainly on the player’s minds.
“It‘s like the Super Bowl,” said linebacker Kyle Van Noy about the game. “I’m 0-3 against them and I want to win. Plain and simple: I want to beat them. They don’t like us and we don’t like them and that’s OK because it’s going to be a bloodbath. We’re going to prepare ourselves during this bye week and we’ll be ready.”
STARK TURNAROUND: So far, this BYU season has revolved around the offensive line. The unit, whose play was disorganized and uninspired the first week, mashed away at a Texas front the very next week.
The change in play was remarkable — and quite stark.
“It happens when your players lose their jobs and there’s a sense of urgency,” Mendenhall said of the improved play. “Like with any of us, you try harder when something you love is taken away from you. So a different combination of guys who earned those spots could happen again, but there’s no entitlement. There’s no tenure, so to speak.”
Coaches mentioned that — just like last week — no starting job is secure as the players will have to battle for spots during every rep in practice.
“You just keep asking for more,” Mendenhall said. “We upped our expectations and intensity significantly from Week 1 to Week 2 and that was the message to the team today. If they want those kind of results then their preparation during practices will need to be similar. They’ll choose if they want to sustain it or not.”
BEDTIME FOR BRONCO: The starting time for the BYU-Utah game Sept. 21 was announced Monday. The game will kick off at 8:15 p.m. MDT, which is a bit late for a lot of people — Mendenhall included.
“It’s about 45 minutes before my bedtime, so I’ll have to start training for it right now, I think,” Mendenhall quipped.
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