PROVO BYU knows all about Utah's propensity for executing gadget plays. And the Cougars are wary of the trickery they might see Saturday at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
The Utes ran several successful gadget plays against Wyoming a couple of weeks ago.
"They've been busting out all of the tricks the last couple of games," said BYU defensive lineman Jan Jorgensen. "We have to be prepared for everything going against them. It kind of makes it tough when teams are doing those things. It gives you another thing to have to be prepared for. But we'll be ready."
Last year, BYU had a 14-0 first-half lead when Utah punter/kicker Louie Sakoda ran a fake punt for a first down, which set up a touchdown and changed the complexion of the game.
BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said one of the best things that happened to his team was Tulsa throwing so many gadget plays at his defense in a 55-47 loss back in mid-September."Almost every gadget or trick they used worked, which gave us a chance to emphasize it and work on it from there on," Mendenhall said. "TCU tried three or four, and not one of them worked. I don't think another one has worked since that time because of the structural soundness and the emphasis placed and seeing how it cost us a football game early. That was my fault for not having our team ready."
IN-STATE RECRUITING WARS: When asked, Mendenhall downplayed the short-term, and long-term, impact of Saturday's game on in-state recruiting. "This year I wouldn't anticipate it because the majority of our class is already committed," he said. "In terms of years to come, it's hard to say because I believe we're looking for two types of recruits. Here, with the opportunity these players have with a religious experience, high academic standards and the type of social setting this is, it's really quite a distinct choice between ourselves and Utah. There might be a number of kids each year that we cross over on, but it's not as many as most people think."
ROAD WARRIORS: The visiting team in the BYU-Utah rivalry has won 11 of the last 15 matchups, including two in a row. The road team won six straight games from 1995-2000.<
INJURY OUTLOOK: Defensive lineman Eathyn Manumaleuna and linebackers Markell Staffieri and Shaun Doman, who have all dealt with injuries, are expected to play this week. Linebacker Kelly Poppinga sustained a slight shoulder injury, and his contact is being limited this week. Mendenhall said Poppinga should be at full strength by Thursday.
NOTE: Tuesday morning, BYU decided to close afternoon practice to the media, though players and coaches were available for interviews after practice. The rest of the week's practices are closed to the media.