Down but not out

The Cougar secondary was hurting badly last weekend in South Bend, and a lot of that was due to the Cougars literally being under the weather. While Mike Hague was suffering from a groin pull, Robertson Daniel came down with a very bad illness. But despite the troubles, there were some heroics that took place that should warm the hearts of Cougars fans during this week of Thanksgiving.

Prior to last week's game against Notre Dame, cornerback Robertson Daniel believed that if he and his Cougars could be physical in the secondary, they would have a good chance of coming away with a win. Prior to leaving to face the Irish, Daniel met with the media and expressed how confident he was.

"If we are physical, it favors us," Daniel said last week prior to the game. "There's a reason why they play receiver. I played safety before I came I here so I'm more of a physical player, so anytime someone wants to play physical I believe it favors me."

That was the mindset Daniel had, but prior to the game he came down with a sickness that left him, according to Bronco Mendenhall, "very, very ill." He was sidelined for the start of the game while trainers pumped IV fluid into his veins. True freshman Mike Davis stepped up and contributed as best he could in what was a high-pressure situation.

With his team down, a sick Daniel trotted out onto the field.

"I wasn't expecting [Daniel] playing, especially seeing how sick that he was," said Kyle Van Noy. "It was actually remarkable that he was on the field standing. So, people don't realize what goes on behind the scenes, and the effort these players put in, and to criticize someone is just crazy, especially a player like [Daniel]. He's a tremendous player and he puts forth a lot of effort."

When Daniel and Davis entered the game, Notre Dame had a 14-7 lead, but after they went in, they helped the Cougar defense hold the Irish to just field goals.

"They helped out tremendously in the passing game," said Van Noy. "I think they did a good job and defensively we came together. We needed to get it together because the two first drives were unacceptable. The rest of the way were just field goals and we put our team in a position to win the game and that's all that matters."

The play of young Mike Davis was solid, and throughout the game he often spelled Daniel so he could gather some strength and enough energy to return and help his Cougar teammates.

"Yeah, that was huge to have players like that step up, that's huge," said Van Noy with a smile. "Mike Davis, I look at him like a little brother. He's a punk but love the kid. I hope he has a tremendous career ahead of him. He has all the ability in the world. Just have to keep on him and keep him going. He's still young and he's a kid and that's okay. It's going to happen with the learning curve, but for him to go out there against Notre Dame in a high volume game and to play the way he did, I'm proud of him."

The Cougar secondary has suffered a ton of injuries this year, but should be a solid group of talented pass defenders next season, and that should excite Cougar fans.

"We're going to be the best in college football next year," Daniel said. "Yeah, there's no doubt about it. We're going to be more athletic than most secondaries out there. I have no doubt about it."

With Jordan Johnson and Trent Trammell returning after this season, the secondary could be shaken up.

"We talk about things and have an idea of what we want," Daniel said. "The plan when Jordan comes back is he'll go back to field corner and Trenton will play boundary. They recruited me to play boundary corner here, but I'll go to safety next year."

The potential of next year's BYU secondary excites Daniel.

"The things Jordan has done here is really amazing, locking down that field side for his age," said Daniel. "Then what Trent has done in the past, I've seen personally because I played against him in the same league. I think all three us out there with Craig [Bills] flying around out there and just communicating is going to be just havoc. I really can't wait."

In the meantime, Daniel is getting himself back on the healthy side of life. When it comes to players like him, Cougar fans have a lot to be grateful for. Next year they'll be even more grateful to have players like him, Johnson and Trammell on the roster.

"Quarterbacks are going to be afraid to throw the ball against us," Daniel said with a smile. "That's how good our secondary is going to be next year. They're going to be very afraid and I can't wait."

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