The weather hasn't been an ally of the BYU football team this year.
The Cougars close the Provo portion of their pre-Holiday Bowl practice today, after nearly two weeks of mostly indoor drills. Most of their practices have been confined to 30 yards of worn green carpet - not artificial turf, but carpet - in the dimly lit Smith Fieldhouse."We just don't have a place big enough to get a good workout," BYU Coach LaVell Edwards said. "We can't throw in there."
The Cougar offense works primarily on five- and 10-yard pass routes indoors, since that's about all the room it has to maneuver. Edwards said what he'd really like to have is about 80 yards of artificial turf on one of the outdoor fields, turf that could be swept and practiced on even in snowy conditions.
Last year, unseasonably good weather allowed the Cougars to practice outdoors, a situation that may have explained the crispness of BYU's passing game against Penn State in the Holiday Bowl. In some years past, the finely tuned BYU passing attack has appeared out of sync in bowl games.
Edwards said it's always hard to overcome the long layoff before a bowl game.
"Going back into a bowl, I don't think you ever get where you were during the regular season," he said.
Another problem for BYU has been players missing much of this week's practice sessions to take final exams. Quarterback Ty Detmer, for instance, was absent during Wednesday's practice, taking an exam.
BYU will get some practice on grass before the game against Texas A&M, however. The team will fly to San Diego on Christmas afternoon, then practice at San Diego State's field that evening and the next two days.
Halfback Matt Bellini and wide receiver Brent Nyberg continue to suffer from nagging ankle and foot injuries. Edwards said he doesn't know if either will be ready to play in San Diego.