"The game against Oregon State was a very competitive game and we fought to the very end and that's what we want to do," said Riley Nelson. "I feel like our offense continued to battle and we didn't give up. We expect to do that every game."
Sure, the Cougar offense fought hard, but it will have to do better than that if it wants to have a chance to beat one of the best Notre Dame teams to take the field in a long time. It all starts with Nelson, and he knows it.
"We gotta do better though and most of that has to do with me. I have to do better at times executing at a higher level and not force anything," Nelson said. "One thing that I'm taking away from the Oregon State game is to not try and win the game with one play. Sometimes it's alright to throw the ball away and things like that rather than turn the ball over or make a bigger mistake."
When it comes to the passing game, Nelson has to be more on target. And when he is on target, receivers have to come down with the ball. BYU's offense has to play mistake-free and can't afford to have execution issues when it comes to simple things.
"Yeah, we had some mistakes that shouldn't have happened. I think we had a few drops and I feel like I was somewhat inaccurate and I missed a couple of throws," said Nelson about the Oregon State game. "Then they were a good team and they deserve whatever ranking they have, so we have to do a better job of executing our pass game and making sure we complete the easy passes as well as the difficult ones."
"I have a lot of faith in Riley in what he can do, and we've all seen it," said Spencer Hadley. "He was hurt for a little while and had a couple of rough games, but any player can struggle and come back, and we all believe in him. We all have his back."
Had there been more than 28 completions out of the 51 passing attempts, the Cougar offense could have pulled out the victory. The offensive line performed much better with Nelson than it did prior to his two-game hiatus earlier this season.
"Our offensive line played their best game against Oregon State, and so that's very positive going into the Notre Dame game," said Nelson. "We could have run the ball a little better and have been more efficient in the pass game, but overall it was the best performance by our offensive line all season long."
The Cougar linemen will have to step it up a notch further if they want to contain Notre Dame's big defensive front this weekend. It's a situation not lost on Nelson.
"As far as the offense goes, I'm proud of the offensive line and they graded out better than they have all season long," said Nelson. "If they can just improve a little more and get themselves prepared for Notre Dame, it will increase our chances of winning."
Cougar tight end Kaneakua Friel didn't turn in his best game of the season when he faced the Beavers of Oregon State. He hopes to have a much better performance against Notre Dame and feels there is no better time to prove himself than against the Irish defense. In the interview below, he talks about this weekend's game and about facing Manti Te'o.