C. Brown: We Still Have a Lot to Prove

Four games into the season, BYU holds 1-3 record with no victories over a Division I team. In spite of working extremely hard as a team in the off-season and possessing the talent to hold the number one spot in the Mountain West Conference, the current situation is enough to try the fortitude of even the hardiest of gridiron warriors.

A week after a 50-point performance, what was anticipated to be a finely-tuned roadster looked more like a black Model T Ford sputtering and putting off Detroit's Piquette Avenue assembly line back in 1908. There appeared to be one key cylinder missing from that BYU's offense against SDSU, a cylinder that could have provided much-needed offensive horsepower: the running game.

Whatever the reasons that contributed to Saturday's performance, BYU continued to throw the ball in what amounted to a dismal offensive performance without many adjustments being made to attack the SDSU defense. Granted, when Coach Mendenhall brought in Anae to implement the Texas Tech offense, BYU fans should have known that a passing offense is exactly what they were getting.

With the work and effort he has put in towards the success of this team, senior running back Fahu Tahi has previously mentioned that he feels this team is just as much his as it is anyone else's. On-field leadership and the personal involvement to correct team issues from a player standpoint is exactly what Coach Mendenhall wants. Stepping in to fix the effort level or team performance during mediocre practices is what team captains have done, but this still begs the question of how coaching development and player leadership and utilization should tie together to provide a winning philosophy.

It i's a tough formula to mix between teacher and student, but the adjustments from the player utilization end of the equation have been communicated by some of the leaders on the team.

"Yeah, it's been made known," said junior running back Curtis Brown. "I mean, we've been meeting with Coach Reynolds and Coach Reynolds is good and he wants us to run the ball more. He's seen us in the spring and saw us during fall camp and knows we have a lot of talent.

"On our offense as far as skilled players, Fahu and I are the most experienced. We just want more pressure put on our shoulders. We want to take more of the load and so as running backs all we can do is just continue to work hard.

"I'm not taking anything away from the other guys but if defenses are giving the running backs the opportunity to run the ball and make plays, we want the coaches to have full confidence in us to know that when we touch that ball we're going to make those plays. I think we've done that so far and all we can do is continue to do that and hopefully the coaches will continue seeing us doing that and allow us to have the opportunities to contribute."

A majority of BYU's offensive coaching staff is as new to their coaching position at BYU as the offensive scheme currently being developed, taught and tested on the playing field. It may take some time before this staff works out its own bugs as they go through their own learning curve along with the overall development of the team. Mendenhall admitted that his staff has learned and made adjustments in both practice and game-time situations.

"I understand Texas Tech's offense but I think we're still learning," said Brown. "We're going to make adjustments and we have to take what teams give us. When they drop eight guys in the secondary we have to run the ball more. We just have to keep working hard and I talked with Coach [Jamal] Willis and he said, ‘You know what? Back in the day we as running backs weren't sure how many times we were going to get the ball, so you have to take advantage of every carry you get.' So that's kind of how I've been looking at it. I guess my whole life I've always been that guy and want to make plays, so it's tough when your number is not called and you want to make a difference."

Following the SDSU game and during this past week of practice, the attitude of the team on the practice field didn't appear to be one of self loathing and dissent. Rather, with their backs against the wall the overall attitude of the players resembled a cornered animal fighting with nothing to lose. This is a different mentality than that of teams of yesterday born out of past failures and heartbreak.

"As far as the team goes I think we've learned a lot about ourselves from fall camp, and what we see even now in today's practice and stuff is that this team is molded together," Brown said. "After the San Diego game we now have a one and three record, but this team has not given up. That is one thing about this team is that we are definitely united, whereas in past years when this team would face the exact same situation guys would decide, ‘You know what, I'm just going to look out for me from now on.' This is still a team game and there are no individuals anymore.

"There are no greedy guys anymore because of what this team has gone through together over the off-season and in fall camp. We just want to win and this team has fully invested, and no matter what the play call is our guys stand behind it and are going to continue to give 110%.

"The team is definitely holding together. We as a team haven't kissed this season goodbye. We still have a lot to prove and feel we have a lot to gain out of this season. We're not going to give up and we're going to continue to fight."

As BYU's offense continues to develop from both coaching and player standpoints one thing is for sure, the heart of this team has not failed and continues to mold the team even though the chance of BYU winning the Mountain West Conference seems very bleak.

"We had a great game against TCU but that's not even our potential and we have to just keep moving forward," said Brown. "So this team is going to stick together and we're going to play as one unit instead of a bunch of guys playing for themselves. This team has stayed together and we'll continue to fight."

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