As you can read in my BYU-Boise State game advance and Tribune columnist Kurt Kragthorpe's column about the woeful history Utah schools have against the football-playing Broncos, the Cougars are decided underdogs Thursday night at No. 24 Boise State.
The Cougars are already in the Gem City, having made the 45-minute flight Wednesday afternoon. I will be making the 5-hour drive to Boise in the morning, so now seems like a good time to clean out the ol' notebook, give you some of the better comments I gathered Monday when I last was able to talk to a couple players:
Quarterback Riley Nelson on whether the quick turnaround is a good thing:
"That's hard to say, because Utah is a physical football team. You are beat up and bruised, but there's nothing we can do about it now. We set that schedule up a long time ago. Our game is scheduled for Thursday night, let's go play Thursday night."
Nelson on setting new goals now that they have a loss:
"One week at a time, baby. It is a magical thing to go undefeated in college football. Very few teams get to do it, and even last year's national champions lost a game. The way college football is playing out this year, I would be surprised if there is an undefeated team this year, so you know what? We will keep battling. Not all is lost. 12-1 is a pretty darn good record, and so we still have a chance at that, and that is what we are striving for."
Nelson on Boise State's defense:
"Very disciplined. And they are also athletic, too. I mean, you don't want to undersell. They kinda get the same rap as us, being from Idaho, and they don't get a lot of five-star guys, and they are just play-hard guys. But that is not true. They are very talented, very athletic, and very disciplined. They are similar to Utah as far as tenacity and things like that. Base schemes. They don't get too cute. They line up and play good assignment defense. So it will be our execution vs. theirs."
Nelson on what the keys are against Boise State:
"Limit turnovers. We lost the Utah battle, two turnovers to nothing. If you take those away, that takes some points away from Utah and gives us a higher likelihood that we win that game. So, turnovers obviously is a big thing. We need to play better on special teams. We played good on special teams against Utah. We need to play better against Boise State because they are also very good on special teams.
And then not making it any bigger than it is. Yeah, the crowd is going to be loud, and yeah, they have a good home record. But just go out there and play just as if it were a fall scrimmage or a spring scrimmage for us. I know that is easier said than done. But if mentally we can get in that state, I think that will give us the best chance."
Nelson on whether he's a fan of fans rushing the field:
"I have been on both sides of it. It is hard to say. No, I actually get kind of panicky. On Saturday, when it hit off the upright, I went straight into the locker room, so I don't get caught up in all that mess. But there have been times where it has been my team that has won. And you can't breathe. It is scary, so as much as I love our fans, and the passion that they bring, I would prefer that they stay in the stands. It is a lot less claustrophobic for me."
Nelson on whether the team is banged up physically with little time to recover:
"Physically, we will eventually get there for Thursday. You know they are going to be a big, physical team, and Utah was a big, physical team, and so your bumps and bruises won't totally be healed, but the adrenaline kicks in and you do fine. You would like to be fresh, but it is psychological. Nobody is fresh. I mean, it is the fourth week of the season, and nobody is fresh now. It is kind of an even playing field and for them it is a shorter week too ... So they are dealing with the same thing we are, and hopefully we can play some good football on Thursday."
Linebacker Spencer Hadley on being underdogs against Boise State:
"Yeah, I think a team can [handle it] if they prepare their minds right, and they come in with that kind of attitude. I think if you let that get into your head, and you think about it and your worry over it, it could have a negative effect. But I think it could have a positive effect as well."
Hadley on what makes Boise State so good:
"A great team. Great coaches, great athletes, a great scheme. They have a lot of great things going for them, and they can hurt you in a lot of ways. ... That makes them a pretty dangerous team as far as I am concerned."
Hadley on Boise's similarities with Utah:
"They are somewhat similar in what they do. And so, yeah, we can use what we have gained thus far and help carry it into this next week. .. .Their definitely can be some roll over from last week's preparation to this week."
Backup quarterback Taysom Hill on the quick turnaround:
"I think it is good. We came off a tough loss, as you saw, and we don't have time to sit and sulk about it. We are getting ready. We had a good day's practice today, and quick turnaround, which has been good. We will be ready. It is college football. It is hard not to get excited and get ready to play."
Hill on how they draw good players to Boise State:
"They are an extremely well-coached team. And they execute. You saw the success that their quarterback had last year, and went in there as a freshman and played really well. Very disciplined and well-coached team, and it will be a battle."
Hill on what it means to Boise State to play and beat BYU:
"I am trying to remember the last time Boise State played BYU. I am not too sure. I don't really remember growing up watching BYU vs Boise State. But I am sure there is competition as far as recruiting and various things like that. It will be a fun game to be a part of, and I think we start a 12-game series with them this week. So it will be a fun rivalry for us."