The Home Stretch

After Notre Dame lost to USC in the final three seconds of their contest, Head Coach Charlie Weis told his team that the game against BYU marked the start of a new season. After the pummeling BYU took from the Fighting Irish in South Bend, the Cougars need to have a similar mentality if they want to go bowling.

BYU will face in-conference foe Air Force at home and needs put last week's embarrassing loss behind them. Moods were a bit somber on Monday as many of the players felt they could have done far better against Notre Dame. Charlie Weis had the tools and used them expose a glaring weakness on BYU's defense on national television.

"I haven't really played in over two months, but coming back and playing football felt so good," Buchanan said. "Me personally, it was kind of a shock being back and starting against Notre Dame. I think just comparing this Monday to last Monday I'm feeling a lot better today as far as quickness and how sure I am with my pass run keys. My straight away still needs some work but after a full week's worth of practice I should be ready to go by Saturday with all the recovery."

After missing all of fall camp and more than half of the season, former walk-on cornerback Kyle Buchanan was pressed into action for his first college start against 9th ranked Notre Dame in South Bend; a tall order for the 6'1", 190-pound sophomore.

"I really enjoy covering receivers and last week my problem was I second guessed myself," Buchanan said. "My instincts were right on almost the entire [Notre Dame] game, but I was too hesitant, and I didn't trust myself out there being my first game back and that was my first mistake. Other than that I knew what routes they were running and nothing really tricked me.

"It was just me not trusting myself having been out for so long. My mindset is pretty good but my confidence is coming back but it's not where it needs to be. The second guessing will go away with a little more experience I'll get during practice. It'll go away with a hard week's work of practice and study and making plays in practice."

Buchanan was visibly disappointed by the experience and took the defeat to heart. He came into the situation already at a disadvantage from the lack of practice, game time experience and still somewhat hampered from his nagging injury, but he suited up anyways and gave it the best he could. Buchanan expects to start against Air Force as well.

"I started against Notre Dame and was in the whole game and against Air Force I should be in the entire game, but of course the coaches have the final say in that, and I haven't spoken to them directly," said Buchanan. "As of right now my role is significant and I hope it stays that way. I hope I'm worthy to stay in the entire game against Air Force and if not the best guy will start, but I trust the coaches will make the right decision."

This week, Buchanan will work hard at ironing out the things that prevented him from elevating his game against the Irish. If his hamstring allows him to progress, Buchanan has a lot of catching up to do. The good thing is he will not be facing Notre Dame receivers but rather play more of a run stopping role. The focus this week will be on trusting his instincts and polishing up on his pass-run keys in preparation for Air Force's option attack.

"The basics from our standpoint are to cover the pass first, but against Air Force the cornerbacks also become a critical part of the run front," Buchanan said. "You have to be really careful with your pass-run keys. The cornerbacks have to be disciplined and keep their eyes focus more on the linemen and not so much in the backfield. After you read your pass run keys then you know what to do. You just fly down hill and try to take away anything on the outside. You also have to be aggressive and be ready to go."

Linebacker Cameron Jensen feels BYU's defensive strengths match up well against the Air Force attack.

"I think our defense matches up well against the run and we blitz a lot from different angles so it makes it hard for people to run against," said Jensen. "I think we match up well and we have a really good linebacker corps so I think we'll match up really good against their running attack. I think we match up great with the way we play our defense against Air Force and in the past it has worked great for us. We just have to play hard and keep the rushing yards down."

For the linebackers, their reads are a bit different than that of cornerbacks. Not only do they have to be assignment sound, but they also have to watch out for the chop blocks they will face all game long

"Air Force is a good team," said Jensen. "They've had a great offense over the years and they're a team and they're an offense where you have to execute and play your assignments and one little error can be a touchdown. They're quick and they're chop blocking like crazy and they just play hard.

"Their offense is going to execute the option attack and play hard. They've also got a better passing game this year so we're going to have to be sound there but overall they've got a great offense, and you just have to be assignment sound. If you have the quarterback you gotta make sure you take the quarterback. I love playing Air Force because they're a running team and I love it when people just say hey we're going to come right at you. I take it as a challenge for myself and I'm excited to play Air Force."


Total Blue Sports Top Stories