Curtis Brown Turns Heads With Tackle-Busting Runs

BYU rediscovered its virtually non-existent running game against Colorado State last Saturday with an adrenaline-pumping performance by running backs <b>Naufahu Tahi</b> and <b>Curtis Brown</b>.

With Tahi leading all runners with 98 yards on 16 carries, his teammate Brown was impressive in scoring two rushing touchdowns with 93 yards on 15 carries -- for a combined total of 191 rushing yards between them.

"We came out with a lot of energy," Brown said. "We were a little frustrated with how our preseason went. We put it behind us though, but we just wanted to come out and make a statement. Coach (Crowton) talks so much to us about it's a new season now."

Commenting on his now effective two-back tandem, Crowton said, "I felt like Curtis (Brown) has been preparing well through the whole thing and his time had come. People always asked me if I was worried about the running game? You know, I was obviously concerned about us continuing to progress, but I felt if Curtis and Fahu continued to practice like they were, and the line was practicing like they were, we would have more success in the running game," he said.

Crowton was quick to reaffirm, "That's not to say we're a running team right now, you know. We had some success against Colorado State because of that and because of Todd Watkins too. He didn't have as big a game, but that's how they (CSU) elected to play it. Rather than force it into him (Watkins), we had other things to go to which made it good," he said.

"If they (CSU) high scheme (cover two defense) and try and take Todd (Watkins) out, what would we do?" Crowton said. "One of them was to run the ball better and, because we were able to, we didn't have to go back to throwing it to Todd. Now there are some other things we could have done if the running game wasn't working as well. We might have had to move him (Watkins) around, do a little motion, do some other things, but we didn't have to do that. We were in a good position in that game. Needless to say, we might not have to do that in this next game (UNLV).

For his part, Brown understands the important difference between winning non-conference and conference games. BYU coaches used their brutal out-of-conference schedule to build, refine and show the running backs where they needed to be as a unit with help from film replay technology.

"You know, I look back on some old film and I realize we weren't doing everything we could have done as running backs to deserve the ball," Brown said. "The thing we really focused on this week is executing and doing our part. We can't control everything else, but we've got to do our part. We watched a little highlight tape of the game. I would watch myself run and I'm just like, ‘You know, that's not as physical as I can be.' I really wanted to make a statement this past game (Colorado State) and be physical; just go out there and not try and outrun everyone, but run at them," he said.

One previous film highlight Brown studied was his record-breaking performance of 217 yards against Utah State University as a true freshman two seasons ago.

"I thought about it today. Looking back at the Utah State game, even then, I wasn't as physical. I was usually tackled on the first hit and stuff like that. I've talked so much about developing as a player in the off-season. I don't think I've really proven it yet. I think this past game was a good starting point because I work hard for a reason. I have to get better and I think that showed against Colorado State," Brown continued.

Many Cougar fans loved the "strong man" pose Brown demonstrated after his two running touchdowns, breaking tackles in both cases to cross the end zone.

"I get out there and I hit one guy, two guys and then three -- and I'm still standing on my feet. I have to get pumped and show the crowd something. I mean, we were driving towards the scoreboard and I hit a couple guys and jump on my feet. I see the crowd stand up they got me hyped up so I had to give them something back," Brown said with a chuckle. "… Give them something to let them know I'm feeling their emotion."

He noted that beating a MWC team picked to finish in the top two by most news media prognosticators, Brown feels it was a confidence-boosting stepping stone towards better things to come for the Cougars.

"Oh, most definitely. I can't take any steps backwards now. We can't even stand still. We just have to keep moving forward. There's no time to rest; no time to lay down," he said.

Brown continued, "We realize we have a lot of talent on this team, but then again we are young at the O-Line position. Our preseason games gave us experience that we needed. Now there shouldn't be any reason why we can't go out into conference and be successful. We've had that time to develop as players to see what we needed to do. The competition we'll face in conference is nowhere compared to the competition we faced in preseason."

Crowton echoed Brown‘s sentiments. "Success breeds success and that's one thing that happens. We brought in a lot of new players to come and join the existing players. The work ethic is good so from the very beginning and because of that work ethic and foundation, the players game has been good. It's been continuing through the games."

"It's just a one-step-at-a-time type thing," Crowton continued. "I don't think anything has been drastic. We're just prodding away one step at a time trying to get better in certain areas; trying to develop certain areas. We as coaches can see … the potential for more if they continue to work and prepare the same … they have from beginning of fall camp," he said.

In retrospect, Brown said the CSU win has taught him it's the small things that win football games. "We did have success (out of conference), but there were a lot of things we could have done to be better. I really don't think that 31-21 score showed our exact performance."

Speaking passionately and with conviction, Brown said he feels this Cougar team has learned from its trials and is accomplishing the small things that will lead to greater success on the gridiron.

"I believe we should have dominated that team (Colorado State)," said Brown. "It should have been 50-to-20. We just have to do the small things now. We made plays when it needed it to happen, but we need to work on the small things and the games should never have been close. We should never be close at the end of the game like that. I mean, the game should be decided by the first half because we have too much talent to let the games drag on till the end," he remarked.

Crowton added he also feels BYU still has the talent to be successful, but there is a lot of work remaining to be done.

"I still believe we have a long ways to go. This is one victory against one team on the road. Now we've got another team (UNLV) that just came off a big victory and they're gaining confidence and they're playing hard for their coach (John Robinson). We just have to not get too excited; not overemphasize the win; put it behind us; move forward into this game; and continue to get better so we're more prepared for this game," Crowton said.

Crowton noted the best trend and tendency he has noticed in practice. "The thing I notice in practice is every week we make fewer errors, the ball's not on the ground very much in the passing game, the running game; and (offensive line) pad-levels are down. They're hats-(helmets)-on-hat better. It's not perfect yet and, like I said, it's still a work in progress but you can see the progress. That always builds confidence with the players and the coaches," Crowton said.

Despite all the trials and travails he and his BYU teammates have faced on field and off, running back Brown asked to convey a simple message those he loves the most.

"Let them (parents Herman and Cheryl Brown) know I love them," said Brown. "They're the best parents in the world and the most supportive. I mean, everybody is always complimenting me about my parents and how great they are, and I know it. I knew it from day one. My parents have sacrificed a lot for me, my little brother and my sister. I just love the support. I love seeing them out there every game and I love everything they do for me," he said.

Brown extended big-brotherly advice to his younger brother who currently plays high school football -- with hopes of following in his footsteps. "‘Keep your head up. Don't worry about the comparisons to me. You have to go out there and be your own person. You know, people might say you have a lot to live up to, but you're a great athlete.' He's a great athlete and he's going to be successful. He just has to keep his mind right and stay focused," he concluded.

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