What if Star Lotulelei had made his grades and qualified academically for BYU after leaving Bingham High School? What if Riley Nelson had taken Utah up on its scholarship offer seven years ago? The Tribune delves into those what ifs today in this piece.
In a few years, perhaps Davion Orphey will command a what if? story.
Orphey, a 6-foot-1, 190-pound cornerback from Santa Ana (Calif.) College, picked BYU over Utah, New Mexico, Utah State and Mississippi State, according to ESPN.com, on Thursday. Orphey, who attended Edison High in Huntington Beach, Calif., did not qualify academically and went the juco route. He will have three years to play two at BYU.
Baylor and Fresno State were also pursuing the former high school running back.
Orphey is the third junior college transfer expected to bolster BYU's defense in 2013, with the Cougars losing seniors Eathyn Manumaleuna, Romney Fuga, Russell Tialavea, Ziggy Ansah, Uona Kaveinga, Brandon Ogletree, Preston Hadley, Joe Sampson and Mike Hague after this season.
Orphey will be ticketed to take Hadley's place at boundary corner.
Lots of BYU-Utah week articles and blogs out there worth reading, but if you can only pick one or two, don't miss the Tribune's collections of photos, pre-1974, of former BYU and Utah coaches and players. Great stuff.
I wrote about whether or not BYU can slow down Utah RB John White (assuming he will play) on Saturday night.
The Beatdown or The Embarrassment? Utah fans call last year's 54-10 Utes win the former, while BYU fans call it the latter. It's all about perspective, as they say.
I gathered plenty of thoughts from BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall and captains Riley Nelson, Brandon Ogletree and David Foote about last year's game when they met the media after practice on Monday.
Here are more than I was able to use in Thursday's article about last year's blowout:
Ogletree on wanting revenge:
"That's a little melodramatic, I think. It is not about wanting revenge. It is about playing the next game. For us, we try to treat every day like game day, and practice as hard as we can, and prepare for the next opponent. That's what we will do this week and the week after that, and the week after that."
Ogletree on the worst part about last year's loss:
"Losing. ... I think the worst part about it was that it was so uncharacteristic. I mean, if we would have played them really hard, and they were just the better team that day, I think it would have been easier to live with. But I don't think we really showed who we were. I mean, that was really an anomaly for us. I don't think we've ever played that badly, and so that was probably the hardest part, just knowing we could have done so much better, and hopefully we will be able to show that this year."
Ogletree on whether it was the most embarrassing game he's been a part of:
"That's a good question. You could say that. You could say that."
Ogletree on whether they use last year's loss as motivation:
"Um, I mean, I don't know what dwelling on the past, dwelling on last year, would help me prepare for the game, personally. Will it make me study film harder? Maybe. I don't know. You can't let it become a distraction. Obviously, it sits with you and it is a motivating factor. I would be lying if I said it wasn't, but at the same time, it is not like I just go into the film room in a rage every day, thinking about last year. I mean, we are focused on this year and that's all we can do."
Nelson on how they use last year as motivation, or not:
"Well, in preparation for this game, we are watching film from last year, and so guys see it, and obviously it leaves a bad taste in their mouth. But not so much as an emotional motivator, but just from a learning standpoint. It is like, 'OK, we made these and these and these mistakes. Let's not make them again.' And if we can do that, we will put ourselves in a good position."
Nelson on how much last year's game is motivating this year's team to play better:
"It is more of a learning tool than it is [a motivator] because in my experience with this game, and it has obviously worked out for us in 2009, and 2010-11, is a recurring theme that happens is we waste too much emotional and psychological buildup. So if we can keep that to a minimum -- it is going to happen naturally, just because it is a quality opponent, there is so much history behind it. So we can't let last year's game feed that fire. We need to feed the fire of, 'OK, these were our mistakes, learn from them, and not make them again this Saturday. So last year's game was more of a learning tool than anything else."
Nelson on the biggest reason why last year's game got away from them:
"It was difficult last year to keep [calm and not panic]. I saw it moreso from our defense, because they played really well, and we kept giving [Utah] the ball back, and [BYU's defense] kept having to defend short fields, and then big play after big play. It is disheartening. As much as you want to be the guy who scratches and claws to the very end, you can only, the threshold is only so high.
So we hope to, as an offense, take care of the ball. We trust in our defense to make plays, and if we can take care of the ball and put together drives, I feel it will put us into position to win the game towards the end."
Mendenhall on the effect of last year's game on this year's mentality:
"Not really to me, it doesn't. There were so many games we played after that, so many chances to correct different things we thought needed to be fixed after that game."
Foote on how much last year's big loss is motivating them this year:
"In the players' minds, obviously, it hurt last year. But that is not like our driving motivation. You don't dwell on the past, and we've got a completely different team this year, so we are looking forward to this opportunity, rather than dwelling on the past.
It is an instate game, you know, emotions are high, and we are excited to go play."
Foote on what went wrong last year:
"I feel like just early on we didn't execute. Whether it was mental errors, or things like that, we just came out a little flat. Obviously, this year we need to focus all week in practice, and execute what we are doing offensively."
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