Crowton Game Plans His/Teams' Future in Bye Week

Being the aggressive and competitive man that he is, a late-season bye week for BYU coach <b>Gary Crowton</b> is like a kid who has to wait an extra week to open his presents on Christmas morning.

Crowton, however, effectively used the bye week to accomplish a few important things as the Cougars also prepare to face San Diego State Saturday in a must-win matchup for bowl game consideration.

"It's hard to watch games on Saturday," Crowton told reporters. "You're sitting there wishing you played, but it was good for us to look at our recruiting. It was good for us to have some time to heal up a little bit. We were able to game plan a little bit last week and then we re-looked at our game plan for the Utah and San Diego State game," he said.

Crowton added, "It (bye) came at a good time. I start my evaluation, usually during the bye week. I did that last year and I've done it this year with some of the things we're doing … like where we're going and the direction we're moving.

"Yesterday. I could hardly wait till practice. We went a longer in practice on Monday. We can go harder earlier in the week because we're not recovering from a game, then we can lighten up later in the week so we're fresh," he continued.

With the Aztecs coming to Provo, Crowton evaluated his MWC opponent. "By the time they got to Utah, they were playing pretty good. That first half they played pretty good football offensively, and even defensively. Even though Utah was able to score, they were hitting him (Ute quarterback Alex Smith), they were physical, and they were running around pretty good. They were what everybody thought they were in the preseason, but they just hadn't put it together consistently," the Cougar coach said.

"We felt going in they are very talented on defense. We felt offensively they're talented, but just haven't been able to put it together. They're playing three freshmen offensive linemen, a redshirt freshman quarterback and they weren't putting the game together. They had trouble on special teams in the Wyoming game and other games."

With BYU controlling their post-season destiny, Crowton said he is doing his best to prepare his team during the two week layoff. The last thing he wants his young charges to do is think past this weekend's opponent.

"I think they're aware of those kind of things. Well, this what I usually do. I come into our meeting and talk to them a little bit about where we're at in the conference … because those are the things that people are talking about. As soon as that's over, I don't want to talk about those things anymore. Now what we talk about is, basically, we focus in on each day's practice in preparation for San Diego State. Right now, we can't afford to even think past San Diego State. It's San Diego State period right now and that's just where we're at."

Crowton continued: "We don't have the luxury of being bowl eligible (already) and doing any of those kinds of things. We are right now in the thick of the race in the conference and that's what we want to do (win the MWC). Our goal is our conference and to do that we have to be focused on each individual team because of the parity in our conference. Anybody's capable right now and so we just focus and work on getting better each week and just progress every day."

The bye week was especially helpful for quarterback John Beck and provided valuable healing time for his previously separated shoulder and turf toe injuries to recuperate.

"John, he's healed up," Crowton noted. "There's a lot of guys that had AC sprains in their shoulders, knees and ankles from wear and tear from the season. The one thing about John is this will be the first game he's played without having a (painkiller) shot in his shoulder. His shoulder goes a little bit numb and he has to adjust his throwing motion every time he gets one of those shots because he doesn't practice with one. Hopefully, he'll come out and be consistent. I hope he has a good start and can finish well. He's working hard at the game and he watched a lot of film, and he's very studious that way," Crowton added.

Commenting on Matt Berry's brief performance during the latter part of the Air Force game, Crowton said, "I'll tell you, I was impressed with how he came into the game. I actually wanted to put him in sooner, but they had that long drive and we weren't able to get him in as quick. I wanted him to throw a couple passes and he got sacked on one that was not his fault of his at all. But the next play was a play action pass and he had a little window, not a big one, and he just zipped it right in there. I thought that was good for his confidence."

"Yesterday, he (Berry) had a really good practice. I've been trying to make sure that when we are talking, I include him in the conversation; make sure he's paying attention because it's not easy to be the backup. I think he's handling it really well. I think he's just waiting for his opportunity. He just trying to improve his game so when the opportunity comes, he's at his best. My hats off to him; he's handled it really well," Crowton concluded.

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