"I don't know much about them to be honest with you," said linebacker Cameron Jensen when asked about Cal. "I know that they're a top program and I'll be breaking down film tomorrow to see what they do well and what we need to do to prepare for them."
Said quarterback John Beck about matching up with Cal: "I think it's a great match-up for us to play someone like Cal in the Pac-10. They were a top 10 in the nation at one time and they will be a very good challenge for us. We're going to have to bring our ‘A' game and I'm anxious to see this team respond to the challenge. I know that I'm excited to get it going again."
"Cal is a well-coached football team," BYU Head Coach Bronco Mendenhall said. "They play in a tough conference and have a great football tradition. This will serve as an appropriate way to measure our program in relation to the goals that have been established. This is another positive step in that process. It's good to officially know who we are playing so we can get down to business."
"I'm always aware of the Pac-10 teams having grown up in Arizona," said Beck. "So I know Cal has a very good team having followed them this year and I'm very excited to have the opportunity to play them."
"I'm excited to play Cal," said Todd Watkins. "I think it's a great match-up for the bowl game. I'm glad it's a Pac-10 team. The Pac-10 is a great conference this year and I'm glad to have the opportunity to play them."
The opportunity to play in a bowl game for the first time in four years is not lost on the players. Having a chance to finish with a win after a very disappointing loss to the University of Utah is something Beck is not taking for granted. "That loss to Utah still hurts," he said. "To lose the way we did was really tough, but Coach Mendenhall said it best in the locker room after when he said, ‘This feeling hurts, but let's not forget that we put in all this work this season to get to the next game.'
"This is a huge opportunity for us to finish out strong and put a great finish to all the hard work we put in this year while building toward next year. We'll find how much it means to us by how we play against Cal."
Prospective Cougars to Visit
Coach Mendenhall and his staff will have their first opportunity to entertain recruits this coming weekend as the recruiting process comes into sharp focus from now until letter of intent day. "We have a chance to bring in three midyear players and if we can bring in three, then I'll bring in three," said Mendenhall about signing JC players on midyear transfer letter of intent day this December 21st. "There will be up to five that we'll bring in this weekend to evaluate, and we'll offer them when they first meet with us and meet the criteria."
One of those five junior college cornerbacks coming to campus next weekend is Mike McCoy. The San Bernardino JC corner is excited about his upcoming visit to Provo. "I've never been there," said McCoy. "I have a cousin who drives his truck through there and he says it's a pretty cool place, real mellow and all. I'm just anxious to see what it's like and hopefully they'll offer me."
McCoy will join with cornerback recruits such as Tico Pringle from Snow College, Justin Tryon from College of the Canyons, and Damion Porter from Long Beach CC. McCoy recently received an offer from Marshall and will visit that campus on December 16th. Said McCoy, "I don't know much about Marshall or BYU, so I'm real excited to visit both and see what is best for me."
BYU is of course a different type of program being an LDS-sponsored school with different criteria to be a student and play football in Provo. "There is a perception that the program is improving and that players want to be here," said Mendenhall. "The coaches and community at large seem to have a great idea of the entrance requirements at BYU both academically and in regards to how they're asked to behave are unique. So the coaches are telling us if their players are BYU players. Not necessarily in regards to ability or academically, but in life-style, which is very important.
"Who are BYU players and what a BYU player needs to be has gotten across loud and clear in the west part of the country and that makes our recruiting a log more efficient."
Cornerback Nate Soelberg has not yet been cleared to play, but will be evaluated this week with his casts off to see if he can go against Cal. All other players are expected to play except for defensive lineman Manaia Brown, who is still having his neck injury evaluated.