BYU football scheduling news keeps on coming, fans learned again Wednesday morning, with the joint announcement from BYU and Virginia that the Cougars and Cavaliers will hook up in 2013 at Virginia and in 2014 at BYU.
Here's my story on the home-and-home deal, which gives BYU 11 games for the 2013 season, by my count. The Cougars can still add two games, if they use the Hawaii exemption.
Originally, BYU was scheduled to open at Washington State in 2013, the return trip for this year's opener in Provo. But there have been strong indications that WSU wants to push back the game for a couple of years, and today's announcement that the blue Cougars are headed to Virginia seems to validate those rumors.
Here's how I see the schedule shaping up:
Aug. 31 -- at Virginia
Sept. 7 -- Texas
Sept. 14 -- ????
Sept. 21 -- Boise State
Sept. 28 -- Utah
Oct. 4 -- at Utah State
Oct. 12 -- Georgia Tech
Oct. 19 -- at Houston
Oct. 26 -- ???
Nov. 2 -- ????
Nov. 9 -- at Wisconsin
Nov. 23 -- at Notre Dame
Dec. 7 -- at Hawaii
Also -- Middle Tennessee State (date has not been announced)
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I wrote a couple pieces for Wednesday morning's newspaper -- this notebook from Tuesday night's practice and this lengthier piece about whether or not this is the best BYU defense in school history. If nothing else, check out the chart that lists BYU's eight-best defensive seasons since the LaVell Edwards era began. Send me an email if you think I missed one or two.
As usual, I couldn't include all the comments I gathered for the defense article.
Here are a few more:
Outside linebacker coach Kelly Poppinga on what areas the defense needs to improve to say they are the best:
"At this point, if they continue to do what they have done the first nine games, they are going to be better than both the defenses that I played on in '06 and '07, so just consistently do what they have been able to do: stop the run, hold teams under 100 yards rushing. Then if they are able to get pressure on the quarterback, and sack the quarterback, and hurry them into throws and bad decisions, then we are going to be able to force turnovers, and they are not going to be able to pass for many yards. So it all starts with stopping the run and getting after the quarterback."
Poppinga on whether the defense is still motivated:
"Oh yeah. I am not just saying this to say it, but I would say today was our best practice of the year. They just came out, and the effort they had, the emotion and energy they had, it was fun. They had a ton of fun today. Coach Mendenhall challenged them, and they are rising to the challenge. We will see how that goes tomorrow, but to start off a week like this, I don't think we have had a week start off like today. It was encouraging to see that."
BYU coach Bronco Mendehall on the defense's effort vs. Georgia Tech:
"It was one of the best defensive performances against the option that I have ever seen, or been a part of. So I was really proud of them, but it is a fun group to be with every week. They just ... It matters a lot to them, and they work really hard, and I am lucky to coach them so far this year."
Mendenhall on what areas the defense can improve:
"They have been really consistent all year long. I guess I would go [back to saying] really the only team that had success against them would be Oregon State, and that would be max protection and really good receivers running through our zones.
So if anything has worked so far, that would be it. We have addressed that since then. That game seem seems like a long time ago.
But if I had to give you something, that would be it."
BYU defensive end Bronson Kaufusi on how much the seniors are talking about the defense and its legacy as one of best in BYU history:
"We haven't really talked about it too much. They just want us to be our best and to progress, really. If we continue to progress and continue to improve ourselves, there is nothing that can hold us back from reaching what we want."
BYU linebacker Brandon Ogletree on what the defense can improve:
"Getting the ball out, and just having 11 dudes at the football. That is something that coach Mendenhall has been working on with us, is, you know, yeah, we have made plays, but I mean dominant football, what that looks like, is having 11 dudes there knocking the line of scrimmage back, and not letting them run the football on us. That is always our focus."
Ogletree on whether the defense can be No. 1 in the country:
"Honestly, we don't hear a lot of the outside voices. It is definitely a goal of ours. Statistically, we think we have a chance to be. But that's not the focus. The focus is to play our best football. But that's obviously kind of a goal. If we play our best, we can have a chance to be the best."
Ogletree on how gratifying it was for the defense to stop Ga. Tech:
"Oh man, it was really gratifying. Anytime you limit a really good offense like we did, it really just makes the hard work during the week pay off. That was the fun part, just seeing everyone fly around and have fun."
Ogletree on what's left to play for:
"We still have our goals. I mean, coach kind of showed us a few of the defensive rankings, and showed us what teams are in front of us and point out that, hey, you are not No. 1 in any of those.
So we still have our goals in front of us and we are going to work like crazy just like we normally do."
Linebacker Kyle Van Noy on this defense having a chance to be one of best in school history:
"Yeah, it is one thing that we have focused on since the beginning of the year, is being one of the top three, if not the best, in the country. I think we take a lot of pride in being perfectionists.
Coach Mendenhall stays on us and what's more seen around this year is that more guys are on each other. But the end result is that we are having more fun, because guys are on each other.
We are not satisfied with just making the tackle. Like, hey make the tackle and dominate the tackle. Or, hey, run to the ball and little things like that, we are putting more emphasis on as a team, and holding players more accountable."
Van Noy on whether it is scheme, coaching or talent that makes this defense good:
"I think it is a balance of all three of those. I think you have to have the talent to get there. Then you have to have the discipline to take that talent and stay there type of deal. Then when you have that discipline you have to take it up another notch and stay there with teammates. So I think we are not satisfied with where we are at, by any means.
We watch everybody play around the country. We look at stats -- and we want to be just as good, if not better, than the No. 1 team. It is a balance of everything, and we have it."
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