Fight Hunger Bowl: Can BYU's offense deliver against a good defense?
Greetings from San Francisco, everyone. The BYU Cougars and Washington Huskies, both 8-4, kick off in about five hours here in the City by the Bay. That's 7:30 p.m. MST (6:30 p.m. here in San Fran) and the game will be televised by ESPN. Temperatures are in the mid-50s today, although they will drop shortly after kickoff and it will be rather chilly at AT&T Park when the game wraps up. It looks like the Utahns visiting Northern California brought some of the inversion with them, because there's a hazy layer of something in the sky here that I noticed on the flight in this morning. On to the game. Here's my advance, in which BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall and quarterback Taysom Hill talk about what it will take for the Cougars to get their fifth-straight bowl win. Hill said the offensive line has to control the line of scrimmage. Mendenhall said the defense has to hold UW's sensational running back Bishop Sankey in check, contain quarterback Keith Price and avoid giving up the big play to tight end Austin Sefarian-Jenkins. All three tasks will be difficult. My keys? The Cougars' offense has to show up from the start (unlike at Nevada), score points in every quarter, and move the ball like it did against Houston, Boise State and Texas and not like it did against Wisconsin, Utah and Notre Dame. First down is going to be huge. BYU has to get positive yardage out of that down to avoid third-and-long. Conversely, the Cougars can't give up big chunks of rushing yardage to Sankey on first down, which will open the Huskies' playbook. My colleague who will be covering the game with me, Kurt Kragthorpe, is calling it 31-24 in Washington's favor and says the big coaching changes the Huskies have dealt with the last three weeks or so won't be a factor. OK, time to clean out the ol' notebook, give you some comments from the past week that weren't published in full in our coverage. Taysom Hill on getting to play in a bowl game after missing last year's with an injury: "This is really important to me. This is really important to our football team. We need to finish this game with a bang, especially for me having the short season last year. I was there for the bowl game, but I wasn't able to participate." Hill on whether he feels pressure because of the streak of four bowl wins:"No, I try not to think about that stuff. There is another pressure already. Look, I know if I stick to my keys, and stick to my offense, and do what I need to do, we are going to be successful. I expect enough out of myself, that the added bowl wins and that kind of stuff doesn't bring more pressure." Hill on Kyle Van Noy's legacy:"I would say the first word that came to my mind is loyal. Kyle is one of my most loyal friends I have at BYU. I think that was demonstrated with him coming back for his senior season this year when he had the opportunity to leave and go to the NFL and do that. I think he felt some sort of loyalty to the school. I think he has brought a lot of great publicity to the school. But not only that, he is loyal to his teammates. I would say that is the thing I will remember about Kyle." Hill on the venue:"I am looking forward to it. It will be a fun venue, great weather, great location."Hill on what has surprised him about the mantle of being the BYU quarterback:"Honestly, I wouldn't say there's one particular thing. I was close friends with Riley last year. And he was really good to me. I saw what Riley went through last year. I wouldn't particularly say there has been one thing that has surprised me, that has been new. It is my first year as the BYU quarterback, but I am not necessarily surprised. I saw Riley get stopped in restaurants, go through various things like that, so I wasn't surprised by that."Linebacker Kyle Van Noy on what is next for him after the bowl game: "I haven't decided anything with training or any of that. I will have a week after the bowl game to find out who I want to hire [as an agent] and all that. I recently graduated on Thursday, so I don't have to go back to school. I am stress-free. I just have to play football and enjoy a week in San Francisco. I look at this as a time to hang out with teammates that I won't be able to hang out with and be a part of BYU and enjoy the season coming to an end: On how many agents have tried to contact him:"I have no idea. My parents are taking care of that, so they would probably be better to answer that question." On where his draft stock is now, if he knows:"Still the same."On which guys he's bonded with the most at BYU:"Probably my best friends, Cody [Hoffman] and Ross [Apo]. They have been there with me since Day 1, and we are all going basically our separate ways after the season. We will still stay in touch, but it won't be the same. Basically, everybody. I am really cool with everybody on our team. I will miss all the younger guys, and the guys who stay here, and also the guys I had four years with. So I will miss everybody."