PROVO — The last time BYU came off a big road win and then played at home, things didn’t go well.
The Cougars knocked off Arizona in the season opener but stumbled at LaVell Edwards Stadium a week later against Cal.
Now No. 25 BYU, fresh off a stunning upset of Wisconsin that grabbed the attention of the college football world, is looking to avoid a letdown when it hosts FCS foe McNeese State Saturday (4 p.m. MDT, BYUtv).
“Instead of sitting around, reading articles from last week’s game or watching highlights or patting each other on the back, we need to be studying McNeese State and what they do,” said assistant head coach Ed Lamb. “All eyes toward this week’s game and the task at hand.”
“That’s what the coaches are saying — you’ve got to stop looking at social media, stop looking at the highlights from last week,” said linebacker Zayne Anderson. “We’ve got a really good opponent coming in and we need to focus.”
Defensive lineman Corbin Kaufusi doesn’t want his team to get complacent after last week’s historic victory.
“We don’t want to say, ‘2-1, we’ve made it.’ That’s nothing compared to what we could do,” he said. “But it’s nice to be able to show people what we’ve been doing in the offseason and the changes that we’ve had.
“It’s huge for our confidence, of course. That’s one of the biggest things you can get from a win like this. You know you can hang with the big boys,” Kaufusi continued. “So it’s OK, how do we grow from that? I definitely don’t want to be the guy that’s like, ‘That win alone just made the season.’ That’s how losers think, I feel like. We’re definitely not that type of team. It’s huge for us but at the same time, we’ve got to keep rolling.”
Offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes recalled what happened the week after the win over Arizona.
“We didn’t have a terrible week of practice. It wasn’t a great week of practice. I felt like the week leading up to Arizona was a great week of practice,” he said. “(Going into the Cal game) it was something less than our best. It wasn’t like guys were lazy or dogging it. But it wasn’t as focused as it could have been. It showed in how we played. Last week, they came out and showed they were ready to play a game.”
In road games at Arizona and Wisconsin, the Cougars played loose. But they were uptight at home against Cal.
“That’s my job, to find a way to get them relaxed,” said coach Kalani Sitake. “We’re going to try to get that done for this home game but still approach this game like every game is going to be (like) Wisconsin for us. That’s our mindset."
“At away games, we were pretty loose at Arizona and at Wisconsin,” Anderson said. “We need to bring that home. That’s where you should be loose. We need to have fun, like coach Sitake said, and just win with your brothers.”
“That was one takeaway that coach Sitake talked about after the Cal game,” said offensive lineman Austin Hoyt. “He felt that everyone wasn’t relaxed and having fun. The game’s meant to be fun. Going into Wisconsin, we had a lot more fun throughout the week. We want to mimic that this week preparing for McNeese State.”
After beating Wisconsin, BYU jumped into the national rankings for the first time in three years.
“For me, I don’t pay a ton of attention to rankings. They’re more relevant at the end of the season,” Sitake said. “But it is exciting. It’s exciting to make that top 25. But the mindset is just to keep each game week by week. Whatever rankings come, they come.”
Sitake said his team needs to play with a sense of urgency against McNeese State.8 comments on this story
"They’re ranked in the FCS. Coach Grimes and (offensive line coach Ryan) Pugh know that area and the type of transfers and recruits they get at (McNeese State). When I was at Southern Utah, we played against them a couple of times. Nobody’s taking it easy. We don’t have any time to relax … We have to play a little loose, like we have nothing to lose. It’s the same approach this week. A little different dynamic but I like the preparation and the game plan.”
BYU on the air
- McNeese State (3-0) at No. 25 BYU (2-1)
- Saturday, 4 p.m. MDT LaVell Edwards Stadium
- TV: BYUtv
- Radio: 1160 AM, 102.7 FM