PROVO Having outscored their last two opponents by a combined 103-0, including Saturday's 44-0 blanking of Wyoming, the BYU Cougars are 4-0 overall and 1-0 in Mountain West Conference play. Now, it's time for a break.
BYU will enjoy a bye week before visiting Utah State on Oct. 3, which will mark its first trip to Logan since 2002.
"I think our program is prepared now to take full advantage of the bye week and continue, I guess you call it, the home stretch," said coach Bronco Mendenhall.
Question is, with the way the Cougars are playing, is this a good time for a bye?
"It's a great time," said linebacker Matt Bauman. "A bye's an interesting thing. It's a time to rest and also it's a time to get better. It's perfect timing. We don't want to take the whole week off and come out flat when we play Utah State. It gives us a chance to rest up right before the majority of our conference games. The bye's a good time now."
The Cougars will practice today, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, then take the rest of the weekend off before reconvening next Monday. Quarterback Max Hall also called the timing of this bye "perfect."
"We just had four very good wins, especially against two good Pac-10 teams," he said. "It's a good week for us to refocus and get a couple of guys healthy. Everybody will be able to rest up a little bit and get our minds off football maybe a couple of days to rejuvenate and then get ready for conference play. We've got to (go play) against Utah State. We cannot be flat. We've got to be ready to go. We need to take it to those guys."
Mendenhall said there are a few objectives he wants his team to accomplish during the week.
"Recovery and re-establishing the health of our football team is first," he said. Senior wide receiver Michael Reed underwent surgery last week for a knee injury and he is expected to return in 2-4 weeks. Many other players are dealing with an assortment of bumps and bruises.
"Just taking beatings week after week, it's kind of nice to get a little break," said running back Harvey Unga. "Wyoming is definitely a physical team. My body's a little bit banged up and I could say the same for a lot of the guys on the offense as well as defense, I would imagine."
Mendenhall said during the bye week there will be time devoted to self-analysis. "Through four games, now we can certainly target what has worked well, what hasn't worked well, what to eliminate, what to continue doing," he said. "(It's) a quarter-of-the-way identity check."
There will also be an emphasis on the players' academic work, Mendenhall added.
One aspect of Saturday's win that Mendenhall liked was the opportunity for the reserves to gain valuable playing experience. Like the previous week's victory over UCLA, many second- and third-stringers were able to play for much of the second half.
"I really like the attitude of the older players toward the younger players as they are yelling and coaching them from the sideline and encouraging them," Mendenhall said. "And certainly they want to score points and have the shutout remain intact, but they are more excited to see the next wave of BYU football players get seasoned and get a chance. That's great because I have been around selfish teams and coaches that view the statistics, the points and where they rank more important, and that's not who we'll be."
Linebacker David Nixon, who scored a touchdown on a 19-yard interception return, was glad to see the backups receive more playing time."We're going to need these younger guys later on in the season," Nixon said. "You never know when injuries are going to happen. Games like this are a good forum to get some reps, get some experience for later on in the season. Obviously, I'd love to be out there playing more, but at the same time, I'm glad to see those young guys getting some experience. Even our second- and third-string guys were creating turnovers. That fired me up. I was pretty excited about that."
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