Music and crowd noise blared from the loudspeakers at BYU's indoor practice facility last night. It was loud enough that reporters gathered outside the building waiting for practice to end could easily hear it.
Obviously, the Cougars are doing all they can to prepare for another hostile environment in Thursday's game at Boise State (7 p.m., ESPN). Question is, did they do enough in that regard last week to get ready for Utah at Rice-Eccles Stadium?
The crowd noise at Utah was definitely a factor in the game, causing multiple false starts from BYU's offensive linemen. When I asked coach Bronco Mendenhall on Monday night what the Cougars could have done differently to combat the crowd noise, etc., he said he made a mistake in believing the players could handle it better than they did.
"I think if I were to do it again, I overestimated, just because we have so many seniors, and because we had been up there before, and many had, I thought they would be more accustomed to it. I probably could have made a bigger deal about it in practice, in terms of just blaring the music. We did all the shifting and stuff that our opponent always does. But maybe I could have emphasized it a little bit more."
Of course, the biggest play of the game can be attributed to miscommunication on the center-quarterback exchange when Blair Tushaus snapped the ball past Riley Nelson. Utah's Moe Lee returned it 47 yards for a touchdown.
Before the play, "We were really kind of hitting on all cylinders and were looking how I was hoping we would look. Then that kind of came out of nowhere," Mendenhall said.
Backup quarterback Taysom Hill said coaches pumped in crowd noise as the Cougars practiced last week, and it was the players' own fault that they couldn't handle the noise at times.
"It was extremely loud," he said. "It is hard to mimic a setting like that, when you look out and see a sea of red. I was running out of the tunnel last Saturday, and I have never been booed that loud before in my life.
It is just a hard environment to mimic. But we will come back and we will iron those things out against Boise State."
Hill said the atmosphere at Boise State "will be pretty similar. Boise State fans are very good fans. They are devout. It will be loud there. But like I said, we are used to it now, and we will be ready."
"It was a tough loss to swallow," Hill continued. "We went in and battled. They were a good team. You don't like to lose to Utah. It was just one of those things where you just wanted to get off the field. You didn't want to be around the various things that were going on. But they played a good game, and we made some mistakes, and it cost us."
Would BYU have continued playing into Sunday if the game had gone into overtime? Of course. Check out my notebook (the lead item is about Riley Nelson's health) for a statement from BYU's Duff Tittle on that.
Here are a few more comments from Mendenhall after Monday's practice (in case you didn't want to watch the entire video I posted last night):
On BYU getting so many personal fouls this season with a senior group, and whether he's disappointed:
"Not really. A lot of times personal fouls are the signs of aggressive, confident play. And I don't really think that is what is problematic at this point. There were more execution things in that game that I was more upset with, than the other."
On the quick turnaround and hangover concerns:
"I mean, none. It is really hard for anyone else to understand, but as a coaching staff, that game already seems like it was weeks ago. We have put so much work into Boise State already that until I get asked, like this, I really don't think about it. So no, tere's no time to have any hangover."
On whether getting back on the field quickly is a good thing:
"Sure. The sooner the better, and our model for handling short weeks has been pretty successful the last number of times, after a few hard lessons to begin with. But hard place to go play, but we just came out of a difficult place to play. So hopefully we can apply some of the lessons that we just learned. And that's what I am anxious to see."
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