Cougars Look To Rebound Against Florida State

BYU is coming off a tough loss to Air Force to face a Seminole team overcoming a loss of their own to Oklahoma. On Monday the Cougars reflected on their Falcon troubles as they look to make corrections and move forward before facing Florida State.

The Cougars came out and played poorly on both sides of the ball last week against the Falcons, losing in just about every statistical category offensively and defensively.

"I think the big thing is just learning from our mistakes from last Saturday," Shane Hunter said. "We have to get better on both sides of the ball and on special teams, and if we can learn from those we can definitely apply it next week and be ready to go next week."

"I don't know, I think it's more the position coaches and Coach Mendenhall getting us ready and actually learning from losses as opposed to dwelling on losses [and] then letting that snowballing into three or four losses. Again, it's how we prepare having learned from this game."

Uncharacteristically, BYU's offense produced a meager 88 passing yards while fielding a watered-down Air Force option attack against the Air Force defense. The offensive troubles placed more pressure on a defense already struggling with execution.

"I think for any team if your offense isn't doing well and your defense has to keep playing over the course of the game, especially your defensive line, is going to be fatigued," So'oto said. "Going up against Air Force, who runs the ball 90 percent of the time, is going to take a toll. Regardless, it was more on the fundamental side that was messing us up and actually got the best of us."

Last Saturday the special teams didn't help the defense much either, nor did the defense help the Cougar offense. The Falcon offense rushed for 409 total yards, keeping BYU's offense off the field, while completing passes when needed. All units on the team must complement each other on the field, and that's something that just didn't take place last weekend.

"To me, it's all about playing as a team," Hunter said. "If we're not playing very good, the offense needs to help pick us up. If they're not playing very good then we need to pick them up. That way we'll be able to do better as a team."

BYU had a few extra days of preparation for Washington, with that being the first game of the year, but that was not the case when preparing for a more unconventional Air Force attack. The Cougars did themselves no favors by turning the ball over.

"I think it's hard to defend anybody with a short field, but especially with the attack Air Force had makes it even more difficult," Hunter said.

Air Force's field position was also helped out by BYU's poor special teams. Riley Stephenson, who was named the MWC Special Teams Player of the Week after the game against Washington, averaged only 29.3 yards per kick.

"If you go back to week one, Riley [Stephenson] is punting them down there and keeping Jake Locker with his back against the end zone, and that helped us a lot," said So'oto. "Then you go into Air Force and some things don't go our way and he shanks a couple and then we're midfield trying to defend the triple option. It was pretty tough for us. Regardless of where the ball is, our defense has to play better."

With BYU's defense playing undisciplined football and giving up 6.3 yards per carry, it's hard to imaging that defending a longer field would have yielded better results. Asher Clark of Air Force rushed the ball 18 times for 121 yards while fullback Jared Tew rushed 17 times for 77 yards.

"I watched the film and felt we tried hard," So'oto said. "We tried to do more than what some of us were supposed to do and I [think] that's where some of the holes were. It's not all 11 guys doing something wrong, it's just one or two guys out of position that allow those big plays to happen. They made us look like fools out there.

"I know there are a lot of things we have to work on. There are a lot of things that for us as a young team have to figure out for ourselves who we are and how we're going to take this loss."

The task of the Cougar coaching staff is to now make the necessary corrections on both sides of the ball. The Cougars have already played against the Washington offense, which is more similar to what Florida State fields.

"I think they'll do similar things," Hunter said. "I mean, that's their offense and that's who they are. They have a very good offensive line that get up on the backers. They do a very good job of holding their blocks and that enables the running backs to go where they need to go.

"I don't think we played our best game against Florida State [last year]. We came out and we didn't execute how we wanted to do, a lot like last week against Air Force. We didn't play the game we wanted to play. We have to go out there and be ready to go."

The Cougars are expecting the Seminoles to be ready to get that sour Oklahoma defeat out of their mouths. The Cougars, likewise, will be looking to do the same on the road. It's going to be a tough task ahead.

"They're going to be highly motivated," Hunter said. "I mean, they're playing in their home stadium in front of their home crowd. They're coming off a tough loss just like we are, and so they're going to come out and be ready to go. We just have to match their intensity and be ready ourselves.

"I mean, I think you have to take it like you would any normal game. We have to understand, yeah, we're going to Florida State to play a traditional powerhouse. It's going to be awesome playing down there and I'm very excited for it. I think the whole team is excited for it. We're going to put this loss behind us, learn what we can and just look forward to Florida State."

"I'm excited," So'oto said. "My freshman year I got to play at Notre Dame and that was a pretty special experience even though we got killed. Yeah, it's probably something similar to that. It's something that you watched as a kid different players coming from there and seeing their games on TV and stuff like that. I'm sure it's going to be a great atmosphere going in there and playing."


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