My first thought after watching BYU destroy UTEP 52-24 in the New Mexico Bowl here Saturday afternoon: Cougar fans are going to enjoy watching this team the next few years.
Led by freshmen Jake Heaps, Cody Hoffman and Joshua Quezada on offense and Kyle Van Noy on defense, the Cougars executed perhaps better than they ever have in a bowl game, and buried the Miners by 28 points.
"Our future looks bright," said coach Bronco Mendenhall.
It was most points BYU has ever scored in a bowl game, and improved the Cougars' record in bowl games to 11-17-1.
Here's a little chart, courtesy of the BYU sports information department, on the school records that were set by BYU:
* Most points: 52
* Most PATs Made: 6, Mitch Payne
* Most Touchdown Passes: 4 (tied), Jake Heaps
* Best Completion Percentage: 73.5, Jake Heaps
* Most Touchdown Receptions: 3 (tied), Cody Hoffman
* Most Interceptions: 2 (tied), Andrew Rich
* Longest Punt: 60 yards, Riley Stephenson
* Most Rushing Attempts: 52
* Most Rushing Yards: 219
Couple of big revelations in the postgame news conference:
* Heaps said he played with a broken rib. He suffered the injury against Utah, and school officials called it a rib contusion. A trainer said they didn't want to reveal that Heaps had a broken rib for fear that opponents would take cheap shots at the quarterback.
"No way this injury was going to keep me off the field," Heaps said. "Some of my teammates have played with worse [injuries]."
* Mendenhall acknowledged -- for the first time that I have heard, anyway -- that he "mishandled" the quarterback situation in the early season. He said the worst thing that could have happened was winning the Washington game, because he believed the rotation system would work.
Check out my sidebar, which should be online shortly, for more on that, but bottom line is Mendenhall said, "I think it hurt us at the beginning of the year, and it is no one's fault but my own."
* ESPN cameras caught a cool moment when the players tried to drench Mendenhall with water/Gatorade. Here's his take on being able to dodge the shower:
"I am competitive, and I like the players to know that even though they think they can get me, they don't have a chance. But they ultimately came back [and got him].
I try to lead by example and have fun from the outside. I know that doesn't show from the outside, but I love this team and it is just, if I can one-up them and they try to get me and they can't, that's something I will remember on the plane ride home."
Time to go eat. I will have more from the game later tonight, and throughout Sunday.