PROVO Not that BYU was necessarily in danger of overlooking TCU, the preseason Mountain West Conference favorites, but the Horned Frogs' 37-0 blanking of New Mexico certainly caught the Cougars' attention.
BYU (6-2 overall, 4-0 in the MWC) is busily preparing for Thursday night's contest at LaVell Edwards Stadium against TCU (5-4, 2-3), which played its best game of the season in thumping the Lobos last Saturday in Fort Worth.
The Horned Frogs held UNM to 119 yards of total offense and junior safety Stephen Hodge, who, in his first career start, recorded seven tackles, one sack, three pass breakups and a forced fumbled that was returned for a touchdown by Rafael Priest, was named the MWC co-defensive player of the week.
"It gets me ready to go, it gets me pumped up, the fact they're coming off a big win," said safety Corby Hodgkiss. "It helps my preparation as
far as not taking a team for granted. I was very impressed with how TCU played. We definitely have to prepare well. They've kind of been inconsistent throughout the whole year. But they put together a very good game against New Mexico. We're preparing to play the team that played New Mexico."
After falling to Utah at home on Oct. 18, the Horned Frogs had a bye week. They looked rested and ready to play against New Mexico, said BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall. "What I saw was a fresh, energized, fast football team and another team that showed the wear and tear of battling through conference play week in and week out. That was probably the biggest difference. It wasn't any brand-new scheme or tactical advantage."
Speaking of fast, TCU's team speed is something that worries the Cougars.
"TCU is certainly faster than any of the teams we've played, not just at the running back position but collectively," Mendenhall said. "The kickoff team, the punt cover team, the offensive line and the defensive backfield it's universal in terms of preparing for that (team speed). Any one group that's not ready will have a huge effect on our team and how we perform."
"They're very athletic," Hodgkiss said. "With (running back) Aaron Brown, you always have to know where he is. He's capable of making big plays. We really saw his speed last year. That's definitely one of the things we're worried about as we prepare for them."
LOOKING FOR ANOTHER SELL-OUT: Saturday's win over Colorado State marked BYU's fourth straight sell-out at LaVell Edwards Stadium and the first time since the 1999 season the Cougars have enjoyed four sell-outs during the same season.
BYU announced Monday that there are still tickets available for Thursday's game.
"We are hopeful to have another full stadium," Mendenhall said. "We think that adds a tremendous advantage to our team, understanding that it's a Thursday night game, which isn't not a normal time to play for any of us. We certainly would appreciate the support."NOTES: BYU is one of just four teams in the nation that ranks in the top 18 in both total offense and total defense. The Cougars are No. 18 in total offense, averaging 451.8 yards per game and No. 15 in total defense, allowing 307.1 yards per contest. The other teams in the top 18 in both categories are Kansas, West Virginia and Boise State ... BYU has won 16 of its past 18 games, dating back to last season ... Only Ohio State has a better record against league opponents over the past 16 conference games. The Buckeyes are 16-0 and BYU is 15-1 in the last 16 league contests. Boise State is also 15-1 in its last 16 WAC games.
E-mail: [email protected]