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Jay Drew
Jay covers BYU athletics for The Salt Lake Tribune. You can follow him on Twitter @drewjay.

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BYU-Washington State football series moving up?

BYU's policy when it comes to football scheduling contracts is to not discuss them publicly until the ink is dry. Washington State's is, too, but athletic director Bill Moos acknowledged last week in a Q&A with Vince Grippi of the Spokesman-Review newspaper in Spokane, Wash., after a direct question from Grippi, that WSU and BYU are close to agreeing on a series of games.

Moos told Grippi that the series will probably be played earlier than had been talked about, perhaps as early as next season.

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Although BYU has yet to announce its opening-day opponent since the Oregon State game was moved Oct. 13, 2012, it has been assumed Georgia Tech would fill that spot (at Georgia Tech) because the Yellow Jackets' future schedule lists BYU for the Sept. 1 game.

Here's Moos' response to a scheduling question in which he mentions the Cougars could be opening at BYU next season:

Spokesman-Review: Next year's nonconference football schedule includes a game with Eastern Washington in Pullman and a trip to UNLV. I've heard there is a chance you will be opening at Brigham Young. Any truth to that?

Moos: We haven't signed the contract, but we were set to play BYU later, I think in 2015, '16, '17, somewhere in there. My contacts with ESPN inquired about us moving that series up. There were a lot of things that had to take place, which the people at ESPN managed for us, so it looks like there's a good possibility that we could open up at BYU for the 2012 season and have them return in 2013.

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Looks like the Cougars are 9-point favorites over Utah State on Friday at LaVell Edwards Stadium, according to this web site. Wonder what it would have been had Utah State not fumbled that late punt and downed Colorado State by eight in Logan on Saturday. My guess is that it would have been less than a touchdown.

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Just transcribed BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall's entire postgame interview after the Cougars' 24-17 win over Central Florida on Friday. The video I posted was only the first half of the interview.

Here's the whole thing:

OPENING:

"It was a gratifying win, a hardfought win, especially coming after a very difficult loss a week ago, and turning it around in a short amount of time.

I thought our special teams played a huge difference in the game tonight. Cody Hoffman's touchdown, kickoff return, and Riley Stephenson's -- I am not sure if there were two or three changing field position through his punting, and there was a muffed punt down at the end zone, and then Justin Sorensen was solid. I thought the special teams were critical.

Timely turnovers by the defense that were forced kept the points to where we had a chance to win. Then glimpses of our running game starting to emerge there in the second half, running for power and moving the ball for first downs. I just saw progress overall as a team. We have not arrived yet, but I was very happy with the victory. It was hardfought against a good team, and a positive day overall."

On how much the team needed it:

"We all needed it. You know, anytime thtat you play below your potential, or perform below your potential, or coach below your potential, you are anxious to show that you are capable of more to yourself, especially. And just feel different, and in a more positive way. That's what was the result of the way we won tonight. Again, it wasn't easy, but we found a way. And that's important, especially at this stage of the season."

On what was different with the running game:

"We simplified the number of runs, from fewer looks, with easier assignments, we sacrificed a lot of the deception and possible disguise of where it might go, or when it might go, and just handed it off and blocked and ran hard. I think that started it off on the right track."

On Jake Heaps' performance vs. UCF:

"Jake was throwing the ball accurately most of the night. I can only think of a handful of throws that maybe weren't on target, or weren't the right decision. But for most of the night I thought his decision-making was good, and his accuracy was strong. Again, there was a handful, but I can't think of more than that."

On losing Ross Apo early, and whether he was concerned the team would let down:

"Not necessarily. You know, Ross is still so new to the program. He is having a strong start, but I don't think the team looks to him as if he is The playmaker. He is just one of our players, and so they were certainly said that he was out, but I don't think they took that as, you know, 'we can't score any points.' Again, it is too early in his career for that."

On Brandon Doman coaching from pressbox:

"Brandon wants our football team to be better, and he wants to do the very best job he can in calling plays and coaching our offense. He struggled with that decision all the way back to when we put the staff together, trying to get to know the staff members and where he might be the most effective. Because he is an inspirational person, and because he is a strong motivator, he believed that our team would respond best having him right there, and looking them in the eye, and being with them. What he was finding on game day was that was his vision of the field was something he wanted more than that. So Brandon made the decision. I didn't. Brandon made the decision and I supported it. We put Lance Reynolds down on the field with kind of the calming resolve and the perspective. And to keep things steady. Then Brandon could see more effectively from above.

I haven't talked to him yet about how much he liked it. When you are in a leadership position, it takes courage to make choices like that, knowing that they are going to be scrutinized. But I think he made the right choice."

On the momentum shift when Hoffman returned the kickoff for a TD:

"Oh, I am not sure on the scale of momentum shifting, if 10 is as high as it goes, that is about as high as it goes."

On why UCF had so many open receivers and long pass plays:

"We had, and it has been one of our struggles early on, and in camp, especially with our safeties, especially in replacing Andrew Rich. Andrew's spot is so steady. I take for granted some of the things he just knows to do. And one of the long passes, we actually had our corner rolled up and a safety that was supposed to be over the top. But the safety didn't go over the top.

Another one, a safety rolled down and the other safety was supposed to be over the top. But he wasn't over the top.

Man, when that happens, 50 or 60-yard chunks show up pretty fast. So we have quite a bit of work to do in managing just, the way we refer to it is eye control. Looking at what they are supposed to look at, not like a fan looks at the quarterback, but where they are supposed to see.

We will have to keep improving that, or no matter what size of a lead we might gain, we could be at risk because of the chunks of yardage that could come by not executing over-the-top coverage, which is a bigger part of it than underneath coverage, because of the point potential."

On how much a kickoff return raises spirits:

"It is a great point to bring it up both ways. It elevates us beyond belief, and also, boy it stings on the other side. And so it is kind of a double-whammy, for lack of a better vocabulary."

On the celebration penalty after the muff, and still being able to run three times for a TD:

"That was one of the highlights of the game for me. One of the frustrations is that we had actually been warned four times to keep our players off the field. I am yet to be able to get to them when they are so exuberant. They love to play, but at some point I have to get them to temper their enthusiasm with playing within the rules and playing assignment sound. I would have liked to have run it in from whatever it was, the two or the three, rather than wherever it was."

On Bryan Kariya's impact:

"Bryan has been a little bit beat up -- just the generic term is stingers, with his shoulders and [???] Nerve. Your neck and that. He just keeps getting stronger. He's a North-South runner, and right now we need North-South runners. When you put Zed Mendenhall blocking for him, and him running behind him, it is not pretty, but at least we are getting four yards when he gets the ball, and that's a huge thing."

On the defense making big plays at the end:

"I have been really proud and impressed with the defense for three and a half games. And I think they try hard, and I love them."

On Special Teams:

"Oh, and I forgot about our fake punt, too. So in terms of special teams play, you can add that into the special teams mix as a side story, or whatever."

On Riley Nelson's involvement:

"We have worked on it from the very first day of fall camp, and we were just waiting for the right time. And it was the right time."

On Joe Sampson's play:

"Joe Sampson has been splitting time with Preston Hadley, and we have two excellent boundary corners. They are good tacklers. They are good football players. Preston on a day-to-day basis does everything with exactness, and is very eager. Joe is a football student, meaning he loves watching games. He loves studying. He knows the names of the [opposing] players, and their statistics, how they play, and what techniques they use.

So we have a pretty nice combination over there, and they are actually playing well at the boundary corner."

On Riley Stephenson's punts:

"Man, special teams play was the name of the game today."

On whether Justin Sorensen will get the chance to kick a long field goal:

"Haven't decided yet. It is one of those that the closest I could get to right now, is let's say there is 8 seconds left and we have moved the ball to the 40-ish. He certainly has the leg strength. Or maybe it is right before the half, something like that. With the games being so close, man that it is a hard one."

On what he learned about his team that he didn't know:

"I learned that they are tough mentally, that they won't quit. They pulled together. This was a hard week, just bluntly speaking, from what the players were [hearing], just comments made to them, and losing to their rival, and the way the second half unraveled. And that hurt them, myself included, and I was very proud of them for the way they responded. And that will serve them well in their lives."

On whether they will practice Saturday:

"We are not going to practice tomorrow, but we will most likely review this game film and put that to rest, and then just let the players enjoy Saturday and watch other college games."

On getting some sacks:

"Hallelujah. It was good. The Ole Miss game didn't give us many chances because their style of play. Texas, a little bit moreso, but the second half they kind of turned into the running quarterback style as well. Utah just did a really nice job in protection." ... Tonight we got into some situations where we were in a normal scheme, which was positive."



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