BYU football: Limiting turnovers the key, BYU says
Provo » Execute better defensively and cut down on turnovers.
While not exactly a surprise response, that's how the BYU Cougars say they can beat Utah in the rivalry game this year, after failing to do either in last year's 48-24 loss at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
"I think [winning the turnover battle] is a huge element of it," said BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall on Monday. "If you are able to hold on to the ball, you have a great chance to win. And I don't think that is any secret, not only for this game but for the entire season. So I hope our team looks forward to it as a great opportunity to hold on to [the football]."
The Utes have played turnover-free in three of the last four BYU-Utah matchups.
"It is going to be a great game," Mendenhall said. "You have two teams that are having great success, two teams that are in the Top 25 in the country again, two teams that are 35, whatever, miles apart, and a state championship on the line with two teams that have played very good football over the last four years."
Still, Mendenhall repeated his familiar mantra that the Cougars will prepare the same for the Utes as any other team this week.
"All that really changes now is the attention placed on the game [from outsiders]," he said. "Our focus now will be just on the process as much as it can be."
Just like last week, running back Harvey Unga (sprained left knee) will likely sit out of practice until Thursday and then play on Saturday, Mendenhall said, calling the junior's condition "advanced from what he was" last week.
"You will probably see, if the trend holds, [Unga will play] three and a half quarters," Mendenhall said. "Hopefully he will play a full game."
The coach said there were no new injuries to report from the Air Force game.
Quarterback Max Hall is the Mountain West Conference Offensive Player of the Week for the fifth time this season and ninth time in his three-year career ... Tight end Dennis Pitta is one of three finalists for the Mackey Award, which goes to the top tight end in the nation. The other finalists are Pittsburgh's Dorin Dickerson and Florida's Aaron Hernandez . ... BYU defensive end Jan Jorgensen and assistant coach Barry Lamb have been reprimanded by MWC for comments they made which were critical of Air Force's blocking techniques. Jorgensen called them "legal, but dirty."
Saturday, 3 p.m.
TV » CBS College, The Mtn.