BYU Coach LaVell Edwards is finally ready to talk title.
And not just WAC title.Two months ago, after his team had upset Miami, Edwards bristled whenver anyone uttered the words "national championship" in his earshot. He protested that it was premature to talk about a possibility so remote, just two weeks into the season.
Now, with his team 9-1 and ranked No. 4 (yes, No. 4; the voters leapfrogged Georgia Tech over the Cougars) on the UPI poll, Edwards sounds as if he will use talk of No. 1 as a motivational tool. With the WAC title and Holiday Bowl berth already clinched, pursuit of a national title could be just what his team needs to stay focused.
"Our motivation all year long, our goal, has been to win the conference championship, and I think we'll just have to shift gears and see what the polls come out with, see where we're at," Edwards said during his Sunday night show on Channel 5.
"If we can keep this momentum going and win these last two, who knows what may happen when it comes to bowl time."
At the rate his players dropped during Saturday's hard-hitting victory over Utah, however, it will be all Edwards can do just to field a team for a bowl game. Fourteen players are listed on the latest BYU injury report, and chief among them is - hold your breath, Cougar fans - quarterback Ty Detmer.
Trainer George Curtis said Detmer was hurt early in the second quarter while trying to scramble down the sidelines for a first down on third and 19. The quarterback tried to cut back inside when a Ute defender popped him, spinning him into the air and down on his shoulder - his throwing shoulder.
On the sidelines immediately afterward, Curtis made Detmer throw to show that he could do it without pain. Detmer was examined again at halftime, and still said he felt OK.
"You get a linebacker or something, and he'd be out a week," Curtis said. "Detmer's pain threshold is really high."
On Sunday, Curtis called Detmer's injury a shoulder pointer. The quarterback was scheduled for another examination Monday afternoon, at which time Curtis hoped to rule out the worst-case scenario - a shoulder separation. At this point, Detmer is expected to play against Utah State this Saturday.
Lost to the Cougars for the final two regular-season games is halfback Matt Bellini, who injured his ankle. Doctors at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center determined Sunday that Bellini tore ligaments in the ankle and have suggested surgery. A decision should be made early this week, Curtis said, and in any case Bellini might be ready come bowl time.
The other injured, all of whom are expected to play Saturday, are: safety Josh Arnold and reserve linebacker Dave Porter, knee strains; cornerback Ervin Lee, neck strain; reserve defensive back Dave Kinard, leg; cornerback Tony Crutchfield, patellar tendinitis (which has bothered him all season); defensive tackle Pete Harston, lower back pain; receiver Brent Nyberg, dislocated toe ligaments; linebacker Rocky Biegel, nose guard Rick Wilson and defensive back Dave Henderson, neck injuries; nose guard Mark Smith, elbow; defensive back Tau Harrington, shoulder separation.
The only injuries of the above with a potential to be serious at this point are Lee's and Kinards's; both players will undergo further evaluation this week.