BYU More Ready This Time Around

The word around Cougar practices is that the team is more focused and determined this year in their bowl prep than they were a season ago. A lot has been learned by the team, and the seniors on this year's squad are intent on going out on a high note.

Last year culminated with a disappointing loss in the Las Vegas Bowl to Arizona, which followed up a loss to Utah that was at least equally disappointing. The thought of many on last year's team was that they weren't as focused leading up to the Las Vegas Bowl, which played a part in them laying an egg against Arizona.

"I think we as a team sort of took the Las Vegas Bowl and our chance to play there for granted last year," commented senior center R.J. Willing. "This year I don't think we're seeing any of that. Guys are so much more focused because we saw what happens when you aren't."

"We're more focused this year and they're going better," said Max Hall about this year's bowl practices. "The enthusiasm is there and the excitement to play in a game is genuine this time around, where it wasn't there last year. Last year there were a lot of distractions with finals and other things and we just had the feeling of just wanting to get the season over with."

Beating Utah at the end of the regular season, something BYU didn't accomplish last year, has added a lot to the general attitude and focus of the team.

"That always helps in building momentum," said Hall. "We have more confidence and excitement in what we're doing compared to last year and it really does feel right this time around."

"We were still bothered with how the season ended last year and I don't think we had enough practices and time to get over it and get in the right mindset before the bowl game last year," added Willing. "Coming off such a huge win against Utah really helped our spirits and we're excited. We're excited about what we're doing and we know that we have a great opportunity to finish off strong against a great opponent."

According to the team, everything has increased this year in regards to preparation. The amount of practice time and the collective focus of the players have been increased, which should lead to better returns this time around in Las Vegas.

"I think practices have been more physical and spirited this time, which always helps," noted Willing. "We like physical practices. We came out with pads more so than last year, although now we're going back to less contact and no pads as we get closer to the game, but yeah, we're much better prepared with everything than we were last year."

Another thing that has increased focus is senior leadership. There is a lot more of it this year, and considering that those seniors will be playing their last game when they face off against Oregon State in the Las Vegas Bowl, they don't want to end on a low note.

"We have a great class of seniors and we've lead by example more than words I think," observed Willing. "The young guys have seen our enthusiasm and hard work leading up to this game and I think we're seeing with how the younger guys are practicing that they've been following our lead."

"All of us seniors know that this is our last game wearing that BYU jersey," summed up Hall. "We're going to play with emotion and play with everything we got."

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