OU, Tulane Help Prepare Cougs for FSU

The seventh-ranked Cougars of BYU host the Florida State Seminoles this weekend for their first home game of the season. The Cougars are looking to stretch their home winning streak, the longest in BYU history, to 19 games.

Playing at home after long flights to Texas and Louisiana will be a welcome change for the Cougars. Having come away with big wins, the Cougars can now take comfort in knowing they won't have to fly a long distance or perform in front of a hostile crowd.

"Coming against two wins against Oklahoma and Tulane is something we expected, but at the same time we look back and think, ‘Wow, those were a couple of games we came with a victory,'" said Andrew Rich. "Oklahoma is obviously a quality team and Tulane can beat you on any given day, so we're glad that we were able to go out on the road and come away with victories."

"I'm really excited and it's great having this game at home in front of or fans at LaVell Edwards Stadium," said Jan Jorgensen. "It's a great opportunity and I think it's awesome having games like this because it keeps you sharp and from going down into a lull."

Prior to the Oklahoma game, the Cougar coaching staff had large speakers and amplifiers hauled out to the sidelines during practices to pump out crowd noise and help acclimate the Cougars to the type of distraction they would face on the road. The Cougars weren't rattled while playing at a Cowboys Stadium that was filled mostly with Sooner fans, and now the crowd noise will be on their side at LaVell Edwards Stadium.

"Once the game gets started neither I nor the players notice until you get to the critical moments, and then the volume of the noise is what you notice," said Coach Mendenhall. "That's the one thing at LaVell Edwards Stadium, is at those critical moments the support we receive to stop an opponent is something that makes a lot of difference."

The Florida State matchup bodes well for the Cougars, who have already been tested by speedy players at the skill positions. The speed of the game won't come as surprise to the Cougars, who faced an Oklahoma offense with a quick tempo.

"I think [our experience against Oklahoma] does help because the big question coming in was how would our defense handle the speed," said Jorgensen. "Well, we just played Oklahoma and they have as much speed as anyone in the country, and so I think it helps a ton knowing that we can play with those teams that can run up and down the field. I think having played Oklahoma does help us in this game."

"Both Tulane and Oklahoma has speed guys on the outside," said Rich. "It won't be foreign to face a guy that can run like a deer. I think it definitely prepares us for what we will see against Florida State. We already have the mindset of speed and preparing to defend against it, having already faced it."

Florida State's speed is not lost on Coach Mendenhall.

"I've watched parts of offense, defense and kicking at this point and speed is the first thing you see," said Coach Mendenhall. "They're talented and athletic and there are a number of players on either side of the ball that can make plays."

The Sooners defense utilized a lot of zone coverage with the safeties and cornerbacks working together to cover key areas based on the routes of the receivers. Tulane, on the other hand, ran more man coverage in their game against the Cougars, and BYU will see this type of defensive scheme against Florida State this weekend.

"We just have to run different kind of plays," said Andrew George. "We have to work with creating separation in man coverage during the week. In zone coverage you just look for holes in the defense for the quarterback to find you and throw the ball, but in man coverage you have to create separation from a player that's all over you. It's really quite a bit different and you can't run the same routes and have to change things up quite a bit."

Hall was able to pass for 309 yards against Tulane, and has mentioned on several occasions that he likes throwing against a man-coverage defense simply because it takes more of the guessing out of the equation.

"I think he likes it," said George. "We've seen how Max likes to throw the deep ball, which you can do more in man coverage. I do think it's different based on what type of talent is playing against you, because some are better at playing man coverage than others, but one thing we'll need to do is find the right plays based on how they play in man coverage. I think that is something we will do."

In regards to finding out the right plays that work in man coverage, the Cougars have already tested those waters against Tulane. Now they will simply have to tweak those plays to better suit the personnel of Florida State.

"Tulane played quite a bit more man coverage than Oklahoma, although the Sooners did play some man coverage," said George. "Tulane played [man coverage] quite a bit more than Oklahoma did, so it was a good warm-up for us heading into this game against Florida State. We learned some things on some of our plays against man coverage that we will change. It showed us some weaknesses that we had with some new things we were doing that we can now change for man coverage. So we've talked a little bit about man coverage and we know we're going to have to beat some man coverage. We'll have to find some plays that we think will be best against what they bring and then go out and execute."

With that being said, the Cougars know they will have their hands full. An emotional loss to instate rival Miami and a come-from-behind victory over Jacksonville State University on a short week of preparation may not be a very good indicator of how talented Florida State truly is. One thing is certain, a Florida State victory over the Cougars would help erase some of the early damage taken from their first two games, and the Cougars know it. Regardless, they are excited.

"It means a lot to play Florida State," said Cougar defensive end Jan Jorgensen. "When the schedule came out this was one game that I was really looking at and looking forward to. This is one game I'm excited for and looking forward to."

The seventh-ranked Cougars know they have a large target on their backs, but they're ready for the challenge.

"We need to be sharp and be on our game because we know they want to come in here and try and knock off a top-10 team," said George. "I think we'll be ready."

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