Heaps steps into the rivalry

Freshman quarterback Jake Heaps will enter Rice Eccles Stadium this Saturday knowing he's stepping into a very hostile environment. Cougar fans saw how charged Max Hall was following BYU's overtime victory last season, and Heaps has heard the stories. However, his approach is one of viewing the rivalry more as a privilege than something to loathe.

Freshman quarterback sensation Jake Heaps has heard all the stories of what former BYU quarterbacks and fans have gone through while being hosted at Rice Eccles Stadium. However, he's not one to shy away from such an environment. Instead, he's looking forward to stepping into the rather unpleasant sea of MUSS.

"You know, it's going to be a fun experience for me," Heaps said. "It's the first time I'm going to experience this rivalry and get a taste of what it's like. I hear a lot of stories and I hear all sorts of things and I can already get a taste of what this rivalry is like, but you don't really know until you go out there and you experience it. It's going to be a fun one and I'm really excited about it and it's going to be a great atmosphere going into Utah. You know, they have a great crowd and they put on a good show up there in Utah, so it's going to be a lot of fun."

Following BYU's thrilling 26-23 overtime victory against Utah at LaVell Edwards Stadium last year, senior quarterback Max Hall expressed his inner feelings about Utah's program. Hall's competitive spirit might have gotten the best of him in that game, as he only completed 12 of 32 attempts for 134 yards. Being young and not having a history with Utah, Heaps should be able to focus more on the game.

"I think just in those moments, when Max went through it, he had such a history with them," said Heaps. "I really think that those situations, unfortunately, that you can go in there so excited that you don't play very well. I think it's just one of those things where these games aren't something you get too hyped over. This isn't a game where you go out there and just psyche yourself out. This is a game to go out there and have fun.

"I mean, this doesn't get any better. In college football, there are only so few college rivalries other people say are better than this one. This is as good as it gets, and if you can't enjoy the moment, then it's your loss. I'm just going to go out there and enjoy the moment. I've never been one to take things and get too amped up about. It's all about just going out there and having fun with it and enjoying the moment."

This past Monday, Coach Mendenhall expressed a desire for there to be more civility and sportsmanship in the rivalry, and for fans to set aside the competitive anger that often stirs throughout the week and inject more fun into the atmosphere. Heaps got a taste of playing in a hostile environment when he played against Utah State earlier in the season, but this Saturday will be on a whole new level.

"It's obviously way more hostile than Utah State," said Heaps. "You know, with the rivalry that BYU and Utah has, it's evolved into a whole different level. It's going to be fun. I think those games are some of the best. Not only do you have something to play for, but you also have that grudge against each other and I think that's when you see some of the best games."

On Saturday Heaps and company will face a Utah defense that is a 4-3 heavy blitz system with man coverage on the outside.

"I think they're going to do what they've always done and I think they're going to bring the house and play man up," said Heaps. "They've played some really good defense up there at Utah, and so we're really excited about the challenge. I think for our offense to really grow up like it has, this is the right time, and I think we're really developed for this game."

Heaps said he is ready and willing to take on the challenge.

"Well, if I'm not ready, then I might as well not show up on the field, right?" Heaps said. "I'm going to give it everything I've got. If we're not ready, don't show up on the field. This is the biggest game of the year. You know, they're going to be ready, we're going to be ready, and it's going to be a lot of fun."

Teams have figured out that there are some weaknesses in the Ute secondary. Utah's pass defense struggled against San Diego State last Saturday, allowing Aztec quarterback Ryan Lindley to throw for 528 yards. The week before that, Notre Dame's freshman quarterback Tommy Rees threw for three touchdowns.

"I think as our offense and our game plan, we have an opportunity to be balanced," Heaps said. "If that situation does happen where we have to pass, I think we can do it. I have confidence in our guys that they can go out there and make plays, and I'm going to prepare like crazy to go out there and see the right things. You know, it's been really tough for teams to stop us on the run game this year. I really feel like we have a good opportunity to be balanced and it's going to be a fun football game."

Total Blue Sports Top Stories