“The schemes are very, very similar,” said BYU quarterback Christian Stewart. “I mean, I was surprised. No one that we’ve ever played against runs our exact defense like we do, and so it’s exciting in the sense that we’ve seen this stuff. At the same time our defense is really good, so it’s obviously going to be a challenge.”
Memphis is receiving votes in the AP Top 25 poll and is close to breaking into the top 25. Much of that has to do with their defensive-minded program led by senior linebacker Tank Jakes who has a team-high 83 tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss, six sacks, and four forced fumbles.
“Our team is excited to be in the postseason for a 10th-straight season and looking forward to the challenge of facing Memphis in the Miami Beach Bowl,” said BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall. "Memphis had a great regular season, winning a share of the AAC title. They are well coached with a strong defense and a balanced offense. It should be a great matchup in Miami.”
“I know the areas that we’re going to exploit on their defense, and obviously through film study I’ll have a better sense of that,” Stewart said. “I’m exciting to go against Memphis’ defense and it will give us a good look at where we are at. It will be a great challenge. I thought Cal’s defense was really good, but we just have to keep that momentum going and score a lot of points against them.”
This will be the first meeting between in the history of BYU and Memphis, and it will be the Tigers’ first bowl game since 2008. Much like former BYU quarterback Max Hall was excited to play the first game in Cowboy Stadium against Oklahoma, Christian Stewart is looking forward to facing Memphis in the inaugural Miami Beach Bowl.
“I’m excited and it’s obviously my first start as a quarterback in a division one bowl game,” said Stewart. “I’ve played in a bowl game before out in Syracuse, New York and we beat the third ranked team in the country.”
Stewart was named that game’s MVP and hopes to have a repeat performance in his second ever bowl as a football player. Going to Florida with the mindset of smashing the Tigers is what he’s looking forward to more than anything.
“I was then named MVP of the game, so I have good memories of bowl games,” said Stewart. “I’m excited to play out in Miami. It’s going to be fun playing doing all the festivities and stuff, but honestly I don’t really care. I just want to go out there and smash Memphis. I mean, I want to go out there and play our best game of the season.”
To end his career with a win would mean a lot to Christian Stewart. The senior quarterback who always wanted to play for BYU, but never thought he would get a chance to start due to Heisman contender Taysom Hill, is now leading the Cougars to their 10th straight bowl game. To win this final game would be a fitting way to end his football career.
“It means a lot to me and it’s definitely bitter sweet,” Stewart said. “I love football and I realize how much I love football this year. Now I’m going to be putting it away for obviously other things in my life. I just excited and grateful for one last chance to play with my guys in a bowl game. This is a great way for me to end my career.”