This year with BYU in the Mountain West Conference driver's seat, coming off a bye week and playing a team looking for any way to put another "W" in the win column, could the Running Rebels catch the Cougars at an inopportune time for their first conference loss?
"Yeah, they've come here and they beat us the last two times they've played us at home," said running back Curtis Brown. "All I can say is this is a much different team than it was back then. Coach Mendenhall wasn't running things back when they came here and we didn't have the same team back then as we do now. We are a much different team than we were the last time they came up here, and we also have a chip on our shoulders and want to set things right. It may not be a big chip but it's still a chip."
"We're going to beat them," said cornerback Kayle Buchanan with a stern voice. "We know what's at stake and we're not going to take them lightly because they haven't won a game in awhile."
The Cougars fully understand that a team desperate for a win is a dangerous one and will take a cautious approach to the Rebels while seeking to execute at a higher level. The BYU coaches have made sure the Cougars stay mentally focused after a bye week.
"We know they haven't won very many games all year and they're looking for any way to win so we can't let up in the least bit," Brown said. "They're going to come out here and put out the trick plays. They're just looking for anything to win and get that W, so any way they can get that, they're going to do it. We just have to be prepared for it and be disciplined."
"I'm a little sick of looking at our guys," smiled Buchanan. "They're all my friends but I'm sick of looking at them. Like I said, it's time to play football. I'm just excited for UNLV to get up here."
UNLV is a young but talented team despite their 1-5 record. Their lone win came against Idaho State back on September 2nd to start the season. The Rebels nearly followed the Idaho State victory with a win over the Iowa State Cyclones. Leading the way for UNLV will be young but athletic quarterbacks that can both run and pass the football.
"It's time to play some football," said Buchanan. "They have a lot of young, talented receivers. I think they're beginning to understand their offense a little bit better as the season wears on. I think they have a couple of options at quarterback that we have to be aware of. Number 3 [6-foot-3, 220-pound quarterback Rocky Hinds] is a good athlete and number 15 [6-foot-4, 195-pound quarterback Shane Steichen] has a little bit better understanding of their offense. These guys both present a unique challenge in their own way."
"They have a lot of good, athletic players on their team," said Brown. "They may be a little young, but they have some good athletes much like many of the teams we will face in the remainder of our schedule. The key for us is we have to go out there and be very disciplined. They're going to run with us athletically, but we just have to be more disciplined than they are, and we have to execute at a higher level."
For a look at how BYU matches up against UNLV on the two deep defensive roster, click below.
"It's pretty similar," Buchanan said. "I think the Utah guys were a little more familiar with it, but as long as we remain sound in our execution, we'll be fine. We've faced this offense before and know what to expect. You have to read your own keys and take care of personal responsibility."
Senior inside linebacker Cameron Jensen has watched film and studied the UNLV offense in order to prepare himself for Saturday's game and is more than ready to face the Rebel offensive attack.
Click on the following link to hear Cameron Jensen talk about the UNLV match up:
BYU's offense will not be surprised by UNLV's defensive scheme because it is somewhat similar to the Cougars' new 3-4 alignment. The Rebels do like to switch up their pass coverage packages from man to zone coverage. The responsibility will fall on the shoulders of quarterback John Beck to read the varying defensive coverages and make the correct throws to open receivers.
"They run a 4-3-4 and kind of run a little bit different variation of that," Brown said. "They basically turn it into a five down linemen defense with a lot of man and zone coverage. It's going to come down for us to execute by determining if they are running man or a zone defense and then attack it with our offense by making the adjustments accordingly."
Click on the following link for a look at how BYU's defense stacks up against UNLV's offense:
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