Bills' sack forcing a touchback against the Trojans and BYU extended its NCAA-record streak to 352 games without being shutout. The last shutout against the Cougars was on Sept. 27, 1975, in a game against then WAC foe, Arizona State. Interestingly, the Cougars do not have a single player on their roster that was alive the last time BYU was shutout.
"We just had an inside blitz on and it just opened right up for me. All I had to do was sidestep the back and there he (Leinart) was," said Bills. "I thought he threw the ball away before I had him. Then I saw everyone do the safety sign. It was exciting and awesome. I was pumped. It was right in front of all the 20,000 BYU fans sitting there, so it was nice and loud. It was awesome!
"I played a little bit (Georgia Tech), but I played more in the USC game. It was great. You can't ask for anything more".
The safety also earned Bills bragging rights as the first defensive player to score points in the 2003 season.
"What I loved was how confident we were and it wasn't like we were in the Coliseum and intimidated. It was just like we were playing and handling it and it was great. It just felt good. It was nice and loud and everything was good," said Bills.
Coach Crowton stressed to his football team not to be intimidated by USC's tradition, atmosphere, or the long USC marching band gauntlet that BYU's football team would have to run through as they took to the playing field.
"For me, it's not an intimidation thing. You're playing college football and that's where you want to be, against the best," said Bills. "It was good to get my real first time experience against a good team like that and I loved it." With all the hype and excitement of two major non-conference games under their collective belt, the possibility of a let down against New Mexico is something coaches and players are fully aware of. "I don't think that will happen," said Bills. "Looking at them, they look like a good team and very physical, so were going to be in for a dog fight. It looks like they're big and strong and it's a conference game so we've got to step it up." He added that "I don't think in the schedule anywhere, there really isn't a let down week. It's good, but it keeps you on your toes. They're averaging like 50 points and they had almost like 500 yards last week, so they're good. This is a good team."
After a tough, emotional loss against USC, BYU's defensive coordinator Bronco Mendenhall made sure there was no time to dwell on the past. Practice was as intense as ever this week and players are running at full speed.
"It's intense. Coach Mendenhall doesn't get flustered. We are just sticking to our game plan. That's what I love. You know sometimes that happens and you kind of have a let down and it's different, but it's the same attitude this week as it was last week and we will be ready to go."
The New Mexico match up is an intriguing one since Mendenhall had been running the Lobos defense the last five years before he was hired in January at BYU.
"He (Mendenhall) knows a lot of what they do so we're going to just execute and it seems like we are getting better every week. Hopefully, we will continue that this week," Bills continued.
With UNM next up this weekend, will Bills see even more game time on the field?
"I don't know. I'm just happy to get in. I'm still learning and I have so much to learn at linebacker. What I've decided to do is just play ball, and just run around. I'm loving it, so whatever I get is fine," he said.
With three senior linebackers starting, Crowton, Mendenhall and linebacker coach Barry Lamb are skillfully ensuring the team's defensive future by playing more talented underclassmen in preparation for next year and beyond.
"It's coming along fine. What I've decided to do is start playing and stop thinking so much and just run around. I'll pick it up as I go. I just need experience, so I'll just run around and hit people."
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