Lessons Learned at USC Aid Cougars in the Future

Even as he reflected on the hard-fought loss at USC last Saturday, BYU head coach <b>Gary Crowton</b> was clearly focused today on applying the lessons learned in their upcoming game against MWC foe New Mexico this Saturday.

While they led in virtually all statistical offensive categories against the Trojans, the Cougars lost where it counted the most – on the final scoreboard.

"About the Southern Cal game, we learned a lot, made some mistakes and you can't make mistakes like that and win a big football game. Were getting better; we're making progress," Crowton said.

He said he wants to keep developing quarterback Matt Berry to become a more productive signal caller earlier, rather than later, during games.

Even as he reflected on the hard-fought loss at USC last Saturday, BYU head coach Gary Crowton was clearly focused today on applying the lessons learned in their upcoming game against MWC foe New Mexico this Saturday.

"I feel like Matt usually gets stronger as the games goes on because he's a young quarterback. He still kind of feels his way through early. He knows what the plays are; he knows what he sees, but the rhythm of the game… it's taking him a little longer to get into the rhythm of the game just because he's young."

Crowton confessed he is asking a lot of his relatively young (in experience) quarterback.

"I've seen this with a lot of young guys, and I'm not asking him to do very little," Crowton said. "We just watched the UCLA game before I came in here. UCLA last year started a freshman quarterback; they didn't hardly do anything with that guy except to throw for the comebacks. Then he threw a hitch that was picked for a touchdown. I'm trying to bring Matt along faster and I think he's made some progress through last year and this year," he continued.

Crowton knows the confidence and mental psyche of an inexperienced quarterback can suffer if they are brought along before they are ready. Following his LDS mission, Berry's feet were laid to the proverbial fire as a freshman in the later part of the season as the starter.

"Offensively, I think we're getting a little more confidence and that's a good thing because we lost some confidence last year. We're starting to get that confidence back. We faced two pretty good defenses (Georgia Tech and USC) and now we're facing another good defense (New Mexico)," he said.

Berry's offensive line teammate, Quinn Christensen, weighed in. "Definitely, Berry's gotta have the time to throw the ball. When he gets hit, he starts to wonder where it's coming from. He's not as focused on his wide receivers as he is on guys coming in and hitting him, so you have to give Berry time and the confidence will come along with it."

Looking ahead to New Mexico, Crowton told reporters today that "we have some concerns going into the game because New Mexico's offense has vastly improved. They are averaging over 500 yards a game, 50 points a game, a lot of first downs and make a lot of big plays. They had over 500 yards against Texas Tech in offense.

"Defensively, we gained a lot of confidence. We had some experience there. We're trying to stay healthy. We were a bit banged up for Southern Cal – Manaia's (Brown) shoulder and C.J. (Ah You) didn't play much, but he did play one series. I think for two physical games, we've stayed pretty healthy. I think our defense has played well," he added.

With BYU's defensive front outdoing the vaunted USC defensive front with six sacks against an offensive line many felt was their strength, this defensive line faces an equally daunting task in going against a New Mexico defense that employs the same 3-3-5 alignment.

"Right now, going into this game, we've got a good plan – both run and pass. At least I feel like we do. I think we match up very well from a physical standpoint. They play hard and get to the ball. On offense, they're very physical," Crowton said.

With Ifo Pili, Daniel Marquardt, Manaia Brown, John Denney and Brady Poppinga manning the defensive front, New Mexico will have their hands full.

"This year they (Texas Tech) beat them 42-28. New Mexico has gotten better, but they still struggled a little with Texas Tech's offense a little bit. I'm looking forward to going down there and playing the game. I'm just excited about it. I'm excited to get started with conference play. I don't mind playing this early. I'm just ready to go."

Let the conference games begin.

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