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Guest commentary: BYU football fans should focus on those who will play

Published: Sunday, Aug. 31 2014 10:05 a.m. MDT

BYU running back Adam Hine (28) runs with the ball during a football game against the Connecticut Huskies at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Conn., on Friday, Aug. 29, 2014. BYU won 35-10. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News) BYU running back Adam Hine (28) runs with the ball during a football game against the Connecticut Huskies at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Conn., on Friday, Aug. 29, 2014. BYU won 35-10. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

In the resounding win over Connecticut, once again BYU fans were reminded that pregame focus needs to be on those who will be playing in the game, not on those who will not play.

In the weeks leading up to the season opener for the Cougars, much of the fan chatter focused on the injuries and possible suspensions of key players. Even the ESPN telecast got into the act, as the short prelude to the kickoff included a listing of those who would not be donning pads for the contest.

It was as though the absence of key players was like a hockey match, where an infraction would send a contestant to the penalty box with no replacement.

There have been times in the past when the potential absence of a key player or players consumed BYU fans' anxieties prior to critical games. Who can forget the picture of star running back Harvey Unga on the sidelines, rooting for his unheralded teammate Bryan Kariya who exploded for big plays in the 2009 monumental upset over Oklahoma in the Jerry Jones Palace? Who saw that coming?

BYU wide receiver Mitchell Juergens (87) runs with the ball during a football game against the Connecticut Huskies at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Conn., on Friday, Aug. 29, 2014.  (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News) BYU wide receiver Mitchell Juergens (87) runs with the ball during a football game against the Connecticut Huskies at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Conn., on Friday, Aug. 29, 2014. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

At the team fireside the night before the 2006 Las Vegas Bowl against the speedy Oregon Ducks, the buzz in the cultural hall at the beautiful stake building was about the two key Cougar defensive backs, and if they would suit up the next night.

Sure enough, the two players did not compete in the game, but John Beck led the Cougars to a dominating 38-8 victory.

I think we could learn a lot from the old sage LaVell Edwards. When he was asked during a recruiting season about the star recruits who did not choose BYU, he responded that he liked to concentrate on those who did sign with BYU, and would be wearing the blue and white.

As the fans watched Michael Davis, Jordan Preator, Travis Tuiloma, Adam Hine, Terenn Houk and Mitchell Juergens perform well in the win over the Huskies, nerves were calmed, fears were allayed and hope was renewed.

Taysom Hill had a spectacular game, and the supporting cast performance was good enough to give credence to the offseason predictions of a good year for the Cougars. Now, what about those Longhorns?

Connecticut Huskies wide receiver Geremy Davis (85) completes a pass in front of BYU defensive back Michael Davis (15) during a football game at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Conn., on Friday, Aug. 29, 2014.  (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News) Connecticut Huskies wide receiver Geremy Davis (85) completes a pass in front of BYU defensive back Michael Davis (15) during a football game at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Conn., on Friday, Aug. 29, 2014. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

Ken Driggs of Mesa, Ariz., is a BYU graduate and served as Cosmo in the ’60s. Contact him at kkdriggs@gmail.com.

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