Cougars Moving Forward

With BYU and Air Force Academy firmly in the Mountain West Conference driver seat, the Cougars used much of last week's bye week to review and polish up for the second half of the season. As BYU heads toward Saturday's homecoming game against UNLV, the team will try to incorporate everything they worked on during their week off.

"We're narrowing down our focus towards our next opponent a little more," said thight end Jonny Harline. "We're also focusing on our efforts to keep improving in a few areas."

Two of the areas the Cougars are focusing on as a team are penalties and third down conversions.

"We're looking at how we can do things better as a whole," said wide receiver Michael Reed. "We're looking at how we can do a better job at converting third downs. We were one of the worst teams in the country in terms of committing penalties and that is something we feel we can improve on. I think we have done a good job over the past couple of games with improving on our penalties, but that is something that the coaches are telling us to improve on.

"There were some things we could have done better in some of our games. There were times when we felt that we didn't execute to the best of our abilities as a team. Last week we kind of did some reflecting on that so we can be perfect in what we do."

"There's always stuff that we can focus on," Harline said. "Right now it's third down conversions, and we want to bring those up. We feel we can do a better job at executing on third downs. Also, there is the personal improvement as well. Everyone wants to get better at what they do also, but that's just apart of what comes with practice. We also want to do work on not making mistakes."

The defense also took time for personal and team reflection during the bye week. After taking command leads in games, the Cougar defense has let down a bit in the second half. Coach Mendenhall has talked to his defense about staying focused and intense throughout the entire game no matter how big the lead.

"The only thing that bothers me is how we let up and gave up points in the second half of both the TCU and San Diego State game," said cornerback Ben Criddle. "Those are things that we should not be doing. We should be bearing down with full intensity for both halves. Those are some things that have bothered me a little bit.

"Coach Mendenhall came to use after the first half and told us that he didn't want San Diego State to score in the second half. He firmly said, ‘I do not want them to score and they should only have three points by the end of the game.' We were not able to fulfill our promise as a defense to him that we would do that at the half. So I think much of that has to do with our intensity because we've gotten comfortable from our results from the first half and we can't do that. Those are things we needed to reflect upon and improve on going into the second half of the season.

"It's a play by play thing I think. We have to stay motivated and keep on talking throughout the game. Sometimes I think we get to where we have such a great first half and then in the second half, we're not as motivated because we're shutting people down. We just have to stay motivated. The scheme is there, the talent is there and we just have to play within ourselves, and when the opportune time comes, we have to make plays. That's a personal observation, and the coaches have also talked to us about that as well."

During Monday's practice, the Cougars worked on special teams play and began implementing offensive and defensive plays to get a look at what the Rebels do and how to defend it. BYU did their film study last week, so they will get right to business against the scout teams tomorrow.

"We started watching film on UNLV last week," Harline said. "We wanted to get a feel for what they do and how they line up, coverages, tendencies and stuff like that—just the basics things you look for when you're studying your opponent. We have a head start on them from last week, and now we're just getting ready for them leading up to the game. Things will get more intense as we get closer to the game."

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