BYU's 43-9 victory over Murray State Saturday did more than prove Division I superiority. It also fueled another quarterback controversy, though LaVell Edwards begs to differ.
Starter Kevin Feterik and backup Drew Miller, who was considering a transfer earlier in the week, split time as the Cougars racked up 313 yards passing - eclipsing 200 for the first time in five games over two seasons."Like I've said all along, we've got two quarterbacks and we need them both if we're going to win this thing," Edwards said. "And I thought today was a nice example of that."
Feterik started the first and third quarters, while Miller was in at the beginning of the second and fourth. Each threw a touchdown pass. Each was intercepted. But one drew some cheers, the other a few jeers from the 59,303 fans at Cougar Stadium.
"The fans started to boo Kevin and chant Miller, things like that, but they don't understand what's going on," said BYU offensive lineman John Tait. "It's not a one-man thing that's the problem, it's an 11-man thing - receivers, linemen, etc. We have to have everybody on the same page to make it work."
It worked Saturday.
Feterik wound up completing 8 of 13 passes for 141 yards, while Miller was 12 of 19 for 172. Ten players had receptions, with Margin Hooks topping the chart with five catches for 179 yards.
"It felt great," Miller said of his first extended appearance of the season.
"I was able to get in there and take a lot of snaps, get comfortable with the game and develop a rhythm."
Feterik, who has started all four games this year, left Cougar Stadium without speaking to reporters. His teammates maintain, however, that his spirits are high. BYU middle linebacker Rob Morris spoke with both quarterbacks during the game, and each is committed to doing whatever it takes to win.
And from now on, Edwards said, the Cougars have definite plans to win with both quarterbacks. In fact, that was the plan all along.
"What happened last week had nothing to do with anything," Mil-ler said of his previous frustration. "The bottom line is we've got to win ball games."
The latest triumph even allowed for third-stringer Brandon Doman to see his first action.
Early on, though, Murray State didn't play like a Division I-AA team. The Racers sacked Feterik on the second play of the game and forced a fumble on the third. BYU recovered but was forced to punt after losing 14 yards on three plays.
Tait said he'll have to see the game film to explain what happened. For whatever reason, he added, the Cougars started out slow.
"We went against a good defense," Edwards said. "It makes no difference if they're I-A or I-AA. They had a very fine defense."
In its first offensive series, Murray State moved the ball 36 yards to the BYU 2 and a first-and-goal situation before the Cougars reclaimed possession. Safety Jason Walker intercepted his fourth pass in three games when he picked off a Fuente pass in the end zone on third down.
The Cougars, however, failed to capitalize. In fact, they dodged a bullet when a Feterik interception three plays later was nullified by a defensive holding penalty on Murray State.
Each team would punt the ball two more times before a scoreless tie was broken late in the first quarter. A 37-yard return by Aaron Roderick set up the game's first touchdown. After a short pass from Feterik to Junior Mahe, BYU scored on an 11-yard run by Ronney Jenkins with 1:49 remaining.
Leading 7-0, the Cougars turned to Miller in the second quarter. The switch was greeted with a smattering of cheers from the crowd. And the sophomore quarterback didn't disappoint them.
Miller completed his first four passes, three of which came on BYU's second scoring drive, to jumpstart the Cougars offense. A 7-yard touchdown run by Jenkins capped a drive that made it 14-0 - a score that didn't change before the intermission.
"We felt fortunate at halftime to only be down 14 points," Murray State coach Denver Johnson said. "Had we been able to score when we were on the 2-yard line, who knows? We might have made it more interesting."
Unfortunately for the Racers, things got downright uninteresting in the second half.
BYU began flexing its Division I muscle with a 1-yard touchdown run by Feterik with 9:22 remaining in the third quarter. A bobbled snap on the PAT led to a two-point conversion with kicker Owen Poch-man finding Donny Atuaia open for a pass play. Less than four minutes later, BYU extended its lead to 29-0 when Feterik teamed with Margin Hooks for an 80-yard scoring strike.
By quarter's end, though, Murray State had retaliated with its only touchdown. Quarterback Justin Fuente, a transfer from Oklahoma who was once named Big 12 Conference player of the week, threw a 44-yard bomb to Terrence Tillman. Fuente wound up completing just 9 of 26 passes for 146 yards. The TD toss, coupled with a 37-yard field goal by Greg Miller midway through the fouth quarter, accounted for the Racers' point production.
"We're upset that we gave up nine points," said Morris, who centered a defense that played without starters Brad Martin and Chris Ellison who were held out for precautionary reasons because of injuries.
The Cougars sandwiched Murray State's field goal with a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns by Mahe. The first was a 29-yard pass from Miller, while the second came on a two-yard run. Pochman followed the latter with his 40th consecutive PAT as the Cougars capped the rout.
"Obviously, we're pleased with the win," said Edwards, whose team finished a challenging non-conference schedule at 2-2.
BYU opens Western Athletic Conference play next Saturday at Fresno State.