Tough deal for BYU's "other" Riley
Riley Stephenson helped me out late, late Saturday night. Our drop-dead deadline for stories to get into any editions of Sunday morning's Tribune was 12:15 a.m., and if Stephenson had made that 36-yard field goal just before midnight to send the rivalry game into overtime, thousands and thousands of readers across the state likely would not have had the final score in their paper the next day.
No, they generally don't "hold the presses" for college football games, even one as important to our state as this one.
But I couldn't help but feel some empathy for Stephenson. Remember, the senior is BYU's punter, and a very good one at that. He has been filling in for Justin Sorensen, who battled back pain throughout fall camp due to offseason back surgery, as BYU's kicker through the first few games.
The 51-yarder that Sorensen had blocked was his second field goal try of the season. His first came in the second quarter against the Utes, a 44-yarder that was wide left.
Stephenson, an excellent field goal kicker at Pine View High, was 4-for-5 on three-pointers this before being called upon in those frantic moments Saturday night.
Coach Bronco Mendenhall said the plan was to use Sorensen on longer kicks and Stephenson on shorter ones going into the game. Not sure what the line of delineation was; I'm guessing around 40 yards.
"Justin has a stronger leg and is better from longer distances. Riley, we like his consistency from closer in. So that was the plan," Mendenhall said.
So the Cougars get back at it on Thursday night at Boise State, which the Idaho Statesman says is 33-4 in regular season, non-Saturday games. The Broncos are seven-point favorites after getting to 1-1 on the season with a 39-12 win over Miami of Ohio. As you can read in today's Tribune, BYU quarterback Riley Nelson says the Cougars better be ready or they will be embarrassed by Boise State, now ranked No. 24 in the AP Top 25.
Nelson, Mendenhall and the rest of the Cougars will meet the media tonight after practice, roughly 6:30 p.m.
Until then, here are a few more postgame comments from a few BYU players I was able to catch after the game.
JD Falslev on the reason BYU lost:
"We made a lot of mistakes that we cannot make. It does not matter if it is a rivalry game or not, we made way too many mistakes, committed way too many penalties, and too many miscues here and there. We have to clean that up if we want to contend for anything. I think the thing that hurts the most about this game is that our seniors deserved to win this game.
They put everything into this program, and then some. They deserved to win this game. They fought back and fought back, but we just came up short at the end."
Falslev on scooping the ball up after the blocked field goal:
"I was trying to make a play. I didn't know what was going on. I did see, as I was running with the ball, their fans storming the field. I was hoping they would call it, and fortunately they did.
But, heck, we just got to make a field goal. And it is not just our field-goal unit. It goes down the line. It is on every single one of us. Offensively, defensively, and special teams. So you just can't blame it on one thing."
Falslev on why they had so many false starts:
"I will give credit to the crowd. But at the same time, we cannot let the crowd effect us, and it did today, obviously. We cannot let that happen. We have a lot of things to fix, in a very short amount of time. We understand that, and we are going to get on our horse, and turn this car around."
Offensive lineman Braden Hansen on the loss overall:
"We had a chance. We just made too many mistakes. It is hard to describe it. We fought hard, and I am proud of our guys for fighting back. But with that many mistakes, it is tough to come back and win."
Hansen on how difficult it was to hear snap counts with the crowd:
"It was pretty loud tonight. They did a good job. Utah always does a good job of doing their little stunts, right before the snap of the ball. They try to draw people into false starts, and they did that a lot."
Hansen on what Utah's linemen were doing specifically to get the Cougars to jump:
"Right before the center makes his call, or the quarterback is in his cadence, they will shout "move" and "stand" and do different things. That was the reason for the false starts. It wasn't anything else.
You know, we do no-cadence snap counts. So it was not the [crowd] noise that made it hard, it was when the defensive linemen do things like that. .... We asked the refs about it, and they said they couldn't call it if they couldn't hear it. With the crowd noise, they couldn't hear it."
Defensive lineman Eathyn Manumaleuna on how the defense played:
"I think we played awesome defensively. We stopped the run. We pretty much stopped the pass. There were a couple things we did wrong, but overall I thought we executed fairly well."
Manumaleuna on whether it was tough to lose that way:
"Going against Utah, it is always going to be a tough game. It is always tough to not come out on top at the end. But it is football. There's going to be a winner and a loser. We have to focus on the mistakes we made and fix them, and try to get ready for Boise State."
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