As expected, BYU Coach LaVell Edwards is downplaying the revenge motive against Hawaii.
Heading into today's 10 p.m. (MST) matchup at Aloha Stadium, the official line from the fourth-ranked Cougars (10-1) has to do with playing for the national ranking, an unbeaten WAC season, personal pride, etc.Talk of last year's 56-14 embarrassment at the hands of the Rainbows (6-5 this year) is brushed aside.
At least, that's the way it's supposed to be.
"Coach (LaVell) Edwards says the revenge factor isn't that big a deal," said linebacker Rocky Biegel. "But it's a factor to me."
"I'd like to get even with them, because last year was pretty embarrassing," said center Bob Stephens.
So while Edwards is pooh-poohing the revenge stuff, others aren't. After last year's game one of the Honolulu papers ran a huge picture of the stadium scoreboard with the final score, and someone at BYU this week made copies of the picture and posted it in the locker room, football offices, and anywhere else a team member might see it.
And that's not the only reminder the Cougars are getting. Certain assistant coaches - such as Roger French, whose offensive line allowed quarterback Ty Detmer to be sacked 10 times by the 'Bows last year - have made revenge a prominent theme in their talks with the team this week.
Wide receiver Andy Boyce said that last year's drubbing is bound to help the Cougars - now. "It was almost better that they beat us, because we'll be ready from the start this time," he said. "There's a little more intensity building, a little more seriousness."
Last year, the Cougars came into the Hawaii game with a 6-1 record, 4-0 in the WAC. They were coming off blowout victories over UTEP and Colorado State the two previous weeks, and were ranked 18th in the nation on both polls.
The Rainbows weren't impressed. Frustrated by 10 straight years of losses to the Cougars, the 'Bows used a no-huddle offense with three wide receivers on the same side of the field to confuse the Cougar defense and score on their first drive.
They also scored on their second, third, fourth and fifth drives, and by halftime BYU was down 35-7 and reeling. For the game, the Cougar rushing attack netted minus-55 yards.
"They did some different things than we had seen before," Biegel said.
"They got on us early and didn't let up," added Boyce.
The Rainbows, of course, aren't fooled by BYU's party line. They expect BYU to come at them with a vengeance, literally. And they claim they aren't intimidated.
"Our guys want to play this one; they're looking forward to it," said Hawaii defensive coordinator Rich Ellerson. "And we know now that we've got their (the Cougars') attention. They hate our guts now."
Like last year, the 'Bows can be expected to try to confuse the Cougars, especially when BYU has the ball. Hawaii likes to blitz, and has used a variety of schemes in the past to keep the Cougar offensive line guessing.
"They'll probably throw weird stuff at us, and we'll just have to adjust during the game," Stephens said.
Defensively, BYU will try to put pressure on Hawaii quarterback Garrett Gabriel, who has been effective this year but nothing like the way he played against BYU in '89.
A couple teams have showed that Hawaii's run-and-shoot offense can be slowed when its running game is stopped. Texas A&M held the 'Bows to four yards rushing on 25 attempts, and Colorado State's focus on the run forced Hawaii to pass a season-high 40 times.
BYU defensive coordinator Dick Felt suffered chest pains during practice Wednesday and remained in Provo, where doctors were to determine what treatment he needs, Edwards said. Felt underwent a preseason heart procedure and only recently returned to the team.
BYU halfback Matt Bellini, who hurt his ankle two weeks ago against Utah, is not expected to play today, Edwards said.
The game will be televised live on Channel 5.