PROVO — For BYU players and coaches, the wait is about over. In two days, the Cougars will open the season at home against Northern Iowa — and not a moment too soon.

"I think our guys are ready to play a game," said coach Bronco Mendenhall. "They've seen the looks they've needed to see. They're ready mentally and physically. A game is what the team needs to move forward and grow."

While players live for game day, Mendenhall says game day is not his favorite day.

"In fact, it's probably the day I like least in this job," he said. "I like Friday nights a lot better in terms of the (LDS Church) firesides. I think those are more representative of our program. I understand the business part, that you have to play well and you generate interest by how you play. But I enjoy the day-to-day with our players, and the off-season and the work ethic and practice. I like that a lot more than actual game day, which is probably backwards. But that's how it is."

Offensive lineman Travis Bright loves game day and the accompanying atmosphere.

"Nothing can describe it," he said. "I love that feeling, coming out of the stadium, hearing the crowd whenever the players do the Haka (Polynesian tribal dance) and hearing everyone erupt. It's amazing, but it's a lot of nerves."

How does Bright ease those nerves in the locker room prior to kickoff? "I'm just kind of laid back," he said. "Let me listen to my country (music) so I can calm down and I'll be good to go."

SPECIAL TEAMS CONCERNS?: During fall camp scrimmages, the Cougars didn't spend much time on special teams to avoid injuries.

"If there is one area on our team that probably hasn't demonstrated their readiness yet that I'm comfortable with, it would be the special teams unit," Mendenhall said. "Hopefully, we'll be ready for the first game."

EXTRA POINTS: BYU is 47-25-2 all-time in season-opening games. ... The Cougars own the nation's longest active winning streak with 10 consecutive victories. Next is Georgia (7) and USC (5). ... BYU has won 12 straight home games. It marks the Cougars' longest home winning streak since they won 17 in a row from October 1989 to November 1991.


E-mail: jeffc@desnews.com