Playing the country's No. 1 rated non-conference record in Notre Dame, Stanford, USC and Boise State, BYU came away dazed somewhat with a 1-3 record, but Crowton feels the stiff preseason schedule has helped his team immeasurably.
"Yeah, that's been fun," Crowton joked. "I actually think it has been fun. I wish we had won more of those games, but I felt like we played good in a lot of them. I didn't think we played good in the Stanford game, but I thought we played good in the other games.
"I think (against) Southern Cal, we could have played better. We did some good things for about three quarters, but the end of the first half wasn't very good. Later in the game, we just kind of wore down, but I've been happy with the progress we've made in developing through those games," he said.
Crowton continued: "We came out fairly healthy. We're a little nicked up based on all the hitting, but no major injuries and we're fairly healthy. Daniel Marquardt probably wont play this game, but everybody else will play."
With the heartbreak lose to Boise State, he said his players are steadfastly focused on winning the MWC title.
"I think the guys (players) have been very focused. I think they're excited about getting into conference," Crowton said. "I want us to be able to execute a little better today than we did yesterday; based on their learning going against some things defensively that are little different. But they're trying hard. It's a fairly simple plan and they should be able to adjust to the different looks that we're going to get that Colorado State is unique for giving. Overall, the attitude is very, very good," he continued.
He noted the experience they gained against top 25 ranked teams will better prepare them for MWC foes. "We've seen a lot of different looks in our first four games and this one (CSU) has some similarities with Stanford and Southern Cal; at least part of their coverage. Their (Colorado State) personnel is a lot different, so our game plan is different than those two. I feel like our guys know what they're doing. You know, it seems simpler to because John's not a true freshman and the O-linemen know what to do now and it's coming."
Crowton added: I haven't simplified it (game plan). I mean, we're running our offense. I feel like going into this game, the plan is very simple; stuff our guys know what to do. I think we're very comfortable with what we're doing."
He also pointed out, "We've got a couple things we've got to continually polish up, but that's why we have today (Thursday) and tomorrow. I like what we're doing and the guys seem to be able to grasp a pretty simple game plan. Hopefully we'll execute," said Crowton.
Crowton knows his counterpart Sonny Lubick has been the winningest head coach in the Mountain West Conference over the past seven years and has great respect for him and his achievements.
"He's (Sonny Lubick) been consistent with what he's done and that's the biggest thing," Crowton said. "He's not going to make very many big changes. When he started having some troubles a couple years ago, that's when Van Pelt came up offensively and gave them a big lift being able to run the ball with the pass. He actually got much better passing from him there at the end.
"This quarterback (Justin Holland) throws the ball pretty good. He's not nearly the runner, but I think he's just going to adapt well to his (Lubick) plan or his scheme. That's what he's (Lubick) done well. When you're at a place for a long time, the key is just kind of recruit to your scheme and that's what Fisher's (DeBerry) done and that's what he's (Lubick) done.
"That's what LaVell (Edwards) did and that's what I'm trying to do. That's when you're good for a long time because once you're able to recruit for your scheme you just kind of keep looking for the same kind of players to make it work and that's what I think he's (Lubick) done," he said.
"What we have to do as a team is make sure we give credit to CSU. because they're an outstanding program. He's the winningest coach over the last seven years in our conference and that's a tribute to his program. Yes, we can play with these other (non-conference) teams. We haven't won them all and only won one of the three, but we played well at times. What we need to do is continue to be prepared to play and give them a lot of credit and respect for the good football team they are," he commented.
With comments from BYU athletic administration officials that they plan to make the "scholar-athlete" a priority over the "athlete- scholar," many have wondered if there will be any significant affects on how the Cougars will recruit future athletes.
"We always go after the scholar athlete," Crowton said. "I feel like we really look hard for the scholar athlete, and we've done that through the past and we'll do that for the future. When we recruit, we have to look for people with high integrity. People that will be comfortable in our environment and people that are outstanding athletes as well as students because this is not an easy university.
"I think as Tom (Holmoe) was saying, that's what we've done in the past and we're going to continue to do so. That's what Lavell (Edwards) told me and that's what I tell our coaches to do when they go out there."
"I think it's good. We make no apologies for our high standards. We talk about them in every home. We talk about them in every recruiting call. We feel like we are attracting high integrity type young men.
"If you kind of look through even some of our recruiting class now, you look at Billy Skinner, he was the Christian athlete of the year in the state of Texas in all sports. That's the kind of guy we're going after. We brought in a Muslim kid, Ibrahim Rashada, who is a devout Muslim. At the same time what we're looking at also are a lot of LDS kids that are going on missions and are returned missionaries.
One class I brought in two years ago, I signed 16 guys and every one of them was an LDS kid; and all of them went on missions except Ofa (Mohetau). That's what we've done in the past and we're going to continue to do so. We're still going to have some problems no matter what, but hopefully we'll have few and far between," said Crowton.
To cut down on recent honor code violations, some have suggested BYU recruit solely the LDS kids from the "inner mountain" areas such as had been done in the past.
"Well, you look through the years and BYU has brought a lot of people in from this area and neighboring areas, a lot of LDS kids. There's been a few that have been non-LDS and have done very well here. Curtis Brown, for one, came in very similar to this freshman class we brought in now. Now he ends up getting baptized and he's not only been a good contributor on the football field, but a very good contributor to our community," Crowton said.
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