Well, this is shaping up to be quite anti-climatic.
The BYU football team will take on 1-9 New Mexico State in Las Cruces today, and it quite likely will be the smallest crowd the Cougars will have played in front of in recent memory.
You can read more about the expected atmosphere at Aggie Memorial Stadium in this piece in today's Tribune.
The big question for BYU, of course, is who will start at quarterback. It will be James Lark, barring something unforeseen. As I tweeted out Friday, Lark's mother was on the same flight(s) from Salt Lake CIty to Phoenix to El Paso, and she mentioned she didn't buy her ticket until Monday.
My take was that Monday was the day Lark was told he would start vs. the Aggies.
Will the Cougars change their game plan for Lark?
"Not a lot," said offensive coordinator Brandon Doman. "Obviously there won't be as much movement and quarterback run-game stuff."
Doman said the Cougars should be able to move the ball regardless of who plays quarterback today.
"Yeah, I hope that we could. But we have been a little up and down. I would like to see us have a consistent week of practice, and I would like to see us have a consistent game. And whether we moved it or not or have great success, as long as we are consistent and secure the football, I will feel like it was a successful Saturday," he said.
It's Saturday morning -- time to clean out the ol' notebook with some of the better comments from two post-practice media availability sessions:
Doman on Riley Nelson taking the blame for some losses and whether that is justified:
"Riley is the quarterback at BYU. Whether it is right or not, or justified, it is part of the job, and he understands that -- probably moreso now than ever before he will be able to recognize the magnitude of that job. But he shouldn't take all the blame. No way should he take all the blame. There was a lot of other factors that cause that loss to occur. It certainly wasn't all because of Riley."
Doman on whether he can console Riley Nelson because he's been through it:
"It has been a hard year for everybody. It has been a hard year for coaches, for me, and for everybody collectively. It has been a neat experience to come together with these players, because they could have easily started pointing fingers and lost trust. I am sure that can waver, and has wavered. For the quarterbacks, and particularly Riley, we have had some unique experiences together this year. He is coming through and fighting through some injury, and that [experience] will serve him forever, throughout his life.
He will look back at those and realize it was a blessing in disguise for him to overcome some battles that he needed to. We will overcome this season."
Doman on what Riley's legacy will be:
"Probably the most tenacious, competitive guy I have been around yet in eight years. And to know what he has battled through physically -- we don't go into detail on that stuff, because we can't -- but he was on the sideline right before our two-minute drive with a significant injury. ....(story about doctor and onside kick) ... That's a testament to the young man.
I will say this: when you get knocked down, you have to choose to get up. And he has gotten up every single time. I have been around some quarterbacks, or players, or people, that don't get up off the ground. And he got up every time. I will love him for that forever for being tenacious that way and never quitting. That's how I will remember him."
James Lark on whether the offense changes when he's in there:
"We run the BYU offense. It is the same. The coaches will call the plays that I am most comfortable with, that I have run over the years. Some I run a little bit better than others.
Riley likes some plays better, and I like some plays better. So they will probably tailor that for me throughout the week. But yeah, same offense."
Lark on the BYU QB getting blamed for losses and whether that's fair:
"That's how it goes. I mean, that's everyone's opinion. They are entitled to their opinion. But that's football, especially when you play for a program with a rich tradition like BYU, they expect greatness out of the quarterback position. So that's just what happens sometimes."
Linebacker Spender Hadley on the mood of the team:
"Everybody is bummed to lose a game, and nobody is happy. So yeah we are frustrated, and upset that we lost.
Is it going to effect the way that we play, the way that we practice now? No.
No, our swagger is still there. We are still preparing for New Mexico and you gotta put it behind you."
Hadley on whether it is good for the team to play angry:
"Yeah, I think so. I think it will be good for us to have a little chip on our shoulder, come out and have something to prove this game and go into the bowl game with something to prove.
I think anytime you lose, you ought to be frustrated."
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