"I think we settled that pretty good because being physical is what Coach Mendenhall emphasizes," Van Noy said. "It was a good practice and we went back to the basics with tackling and stuff. I think it wasn't that big of an issue. It was more assignment-sound issues and that put people off balance, so I don't think it was much of a tackle issue. It was more of an execution issue."
To ensure athleticism is coupled with discipline and assignment-sound football so that Van Noy's unique abilities become an asset and not a liability, getting back to the basics was the focus this week.
"You practice harder," Van Noy said. "Keep your eyes on your keys and you have to look at the little things and go back to the basics of what you do best and why you're here at BYU."
Van Noy is expecting to start against San Jose State. On the other side of the field, the Cougar defense also missed Jordan Pendleton last week, who was nursing a sore ankle he suffered on the last play of the Texas game. He'll be back in action against San Jose State.
"You are going to see number one out there, yup," said Pendleton. "The last play in the Texas game I had someone land on my ankle, and so it has just been an ankle issue and everything else feels great. I tried to play in the Utah game and didn't practice all week. I got it shot up and tried to play and hurt it worse, and so that's what has put me out the last two weeks."
So where is Pendleton at health-wise?
"I can't say percentage-wise, but I did run and did some skeli [Tuesday], which is the first time running since the first half of the Utah game," he said. "I feel really optimistic and I feel pretty good. It's still early in the week and I have ‘til Saturday night, but I am planning on playing 100 percent."
So what will Pendleton and Van Noy see when they take the field against the Spartans? Well, the strength of the San Jose State offense lies in their run game. The Spartans have a talented running back in 5-foot-11-inch, 192-pound speedster Brandon Rutley, who is the primary Spartan offensive weapon. In fact, Rutley is someone who immediately stood out to Coach Mendenhall during film study, and he is also someone who Van Noy noticed right away as well. After suffering an ankle sprain last week, Rutley will be a game-time decision, but BYU is preparing as though he will play.
"The running back's really quick and agile, elusive," Van Noy said. "He's really fast and if he breaks one he's gone. He's that good."
An all-purpose running back, Rutley does it all for the Spartan offense. He's a breakaway threat out of the backfield and someone who can catch the ball downfield as well. However, catching and rushing the ball aren't the only tools in his bag of tricks. Rutley is also a capable return specialist.
"He's really good and you can't take him lightly," Pendleton said. "Their running back pretty much does it all and runs hard, looking to break a big play. He's really shifty and he's fast."
Four years ago, BYU recruited Ina Liaina, who played both linebacker and fullback for Rio Mesa High School in Oxnard, California. The son of a pastor, Liaina claimed an offer from BYU, and this weekend BYU's defense will square off against him as he lines up at the fullback position.
"He's very big and he's very physical and he looks really good on film," Pendleton said about Liaina.
In high school, Liaina averaged 7.5 yards per carry and finished up his prep career with 1,205 rushing yards. At 6 feet 1 inch and 244 pounds, Liaina – who is from Samoa – played in 10 games last season and actually started at running back last year against Boise State, Fresno State and New Mexico State. He'll be lining up at fullback against BYU.
"The fullback is physical and big, kind of like the Utah fullback," said Van Noy. He's good.
"They've got a good team and they can run the ball. I mean, they beat Colorado State and I don't think we can look past them. I respect them like I respect any other opponent. That's how I'm going into this game, like it's any other week. They could easily be 4-1 right now."
Pendleton agrees with Van Noy's assessment.
"They have a pretty big offensive lineman, and after watching some of their games, they could easily be 4-1," Pendleton said. "Their biggest lost was to Stanford and their other games they could have easily won."
Behind Liaina, the Spartans run a power-I, but the Spartans also run out of various other formations as well like the pistol, which they also pass from.
"They pass a lot and have a lot of power plays," Van Noy said. "I also think they do the same thing over and over and are so good at those plays that they recycle through in the game. We're going to have to play like any other week because they play the pistol, ride-option and that kind of stuff."
Van Noy said the Spartan passing game resembles Central Florida's.
However, to Pendleton, the Spartan offense resembles a few different teams the Cougars have already faced.
"They're like a few teams that we've already played, and they do some things like Utah State," Pendleton said. "They do that pistol where they have the running back line up behind the quarterback, and then they're kind of like Texas with all the motioning stuff to try and confuse you. So, they do things like teams we've already played and it's nothing new to us and [something we] haven't already seen. We should be able to stop them and that's what we plan on doing."
Pendleton's keys to victory
"First and foremost, we have to stop the run," Pendleton said. "We have to make sure that they can't establish the run. That's kind of what we do every game.
"The second thing is we can't let their running back make big plays like you saw in that Utah State game. If you take away those two long runs from the Utah State game, then they probably have around 140 yards rushing, which is half of what they were averaging. We gave up those two big plays, which kind of screwed us over.
"Then we have to contain the gadget plays. If we get up on them early in the game, they're going to try and do some trickery, and so we have to play assignment-sound football, because if we get up on them early they'll do that."