Provo • Since we last heard from the BYU football team after its 50-14 win over New Mexico State, the Cougars have hit the books and the weight room, and BYU coaches have hit the recruiting trail, securing several more commitments from members of the 2013 signing class.
What the Cougars haven’t done is hit each other. Coach Bronco Mendenhall hasn’t conducted any official practices the last two weeks, but that all changes Monday as the Cougars start preparations in earnest for the Poinsettia Bowl on Dec. 20 in San Diego.
BYU will practice every day this week, then leave for San Diego on Sunday night. The Cougars’ first practice in San Diego will be on Monday, Dec. 17, and they will also spend some time that day at SeaWorld San Diego, watching Shamu and dolphins perform at the amusement park near downtown.
BYU’s bowl opponent, San Diego State, began practicing last week, but it’s hard to argue against Mendenhall’s routine, seeing as how he has the best record in bowls of any coach in school history, 5-2.
Traditionally, BYU never uses as many practices as it is allotted before bowl games under Mendenhall.
One drawback to Mendenhall’s approach is that this intense week of bowl practices coincides with finals week, and players are expected to miss some of the practices to take final exams, as was the case two years ago when BYU played in one of the earlier games of the bowl season, the New Mexico Bowl.
Receiver J.D. Falslev said the team is motivated because it is playing an excellent team — SDSU has won seven straight games — in a warm-weather locale and also because it wants to send a large senior class out with a positive experience after a somewhat disappointing season.
“I am a little disappointed with how our season went just because there were so many games that we should have won,” Falslev said. “But you can’t say you should have won this, you should have won that.
“It has been a ride with these seniors,” he continued. “They have put everything they have into this program, collectively as a unit, every guy on this team has put everything they have into this season. I don’t have any regrets, but there are a couple of games here or there that we lost that we should have won.
But like I say, you can’t ever say coulda, woulda, shoulda.”
It could also be the final game for a junior. All-American linebacker Kyle Van Noy has acknowledged that the possibility exists that he will declare for the NFL draft in early January.
“Roller coaster,” is the way Van Noy described the season after BYU moved to 7-5 with the easy win over NMSU. “We have had ups and downs. We have started to figure out that we need to put more effort into execution and making plays. I think our effort is there. I think we try really, really hard. We have that never-give-up mentality, we just need to put those to execution, and a little more effort, and I think we will not only set the foundation for right now, but for the younger guys to continue that never-give-up effort.”
P BYU vs. San Diego Thursday, Dec. 20, 6 p.m., at Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, ESPN