PROVO The BYU defense has strung together two of its best games in a long time after shutting out UCLA 59-0 last week and continuing the shutout streak Saturday with 44-0 win over Wyoming.
The last time and only other time in the modern era that the Cougars pulled together two shutouts in a row was in November 1985. And, ironically, the scores then were exactly the same. The Cougars beat Wyoming 59-0 and followed that up with a 44-0 drubbing of Utah State.
On Saturday, the Cougars added to the history book as the defense was nearly flawless, forcing six turnovers and scoring twice in front of the sell-out crowd at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
"The biggest thing is just being at home," BYU linebacker David Nixon said. "This is a magical place for us, and it is a place we take a lot of pride in. We know that we have to play our best ball here because it is a place we like to protect."
A part of the success as of late for the Cougar defense has been its ability to keep teams in front of them and take advantage of their mistakes. The result has been 10 turnovers in the past two games.
Coach Bronco Mendenhall knows that there were a couple errant throws, but he is proud of his defense because he feels it has been forcing the issue.
"I was really impressed from their ability not only to play with the patient format they are playing with, but to have that end in turnovers," he said. "That really is what we are hoping for. Not only are they not risking giving up big plays, but now they are starting to take the ball away."
The Cowboys had three fumbles on the day, one of which was returned by Cougar defensive back Scott Johnson 64 yards for the game's first touchdown. BYU has now recovered eight fumbles through the first four games of the season.
The pass defense was also superb as Nixon, Daniel Sorensen and Jordan Pendleton each had interceptions. Nixon scored on his and was thrilled to find the end zone after his teammate, Brandon Bradley, got a hand on the Karsten Sween pass while in coverage.
"(Bradley) just made a great play on the ball and popped it into the air," Nixon said. "I was hanging on the No. 2 receiver and rushed over, picked it out of the sky and I was determined to get a touchdown."
Perhaps the biggest improvement in the past few weeks has been in the secondary. When the Cougars squeaked out a win at Washington two weeks ago, there was some concern about their defensive secondary. But over the past two weeks, they have made the corrections and adjustments necessary to silence their critics.
Johnson said that while a lot was made over that game at Washington, those corrections and adjustments were rather simple."A lot of times when a player was just running free against Washington, it was just mental mistakes or misalignments," he said. "We got that fixed after that game, and it is very evident in the way we have played the past two weeks."