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BYU's Hill says long road trip to hostile environment will unify Cougars
First Published Aug 29 2013 02:19 pm • Last Updated Aug 29 2013 02:19 pm

Although he played a significant role late in last year's game at Boise State, BYU quarterback Taysom Hill has never started in a college football game on the road. That will change Saturday when Hill goes under center against Virginia, with around 60,000 fans screaming, yelling and doing their best to disrupt the sophomore from Pocatello, Idaho.

Can he handle the pressure? That's the topic of this piece in today's Tribune. And here's a notebook primarily about the offensive line, and how line coach Garett Tujague plans to play all 11 offensive linemen who make the trip.

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Hill was asked earlier this week whether he would rather start the season at home, or on the road.

"I would definitely say that [traveling early] could be a great benefit for us, as far as the unity goes," he said. "We talked about that as a leadership council today: what do we want to get out of traveling to Virginia? And that was one of those things, to be a unifying experience.

Playing on the road creates some unique challenges. It would probably be easier starting at home, but that's not what we scheduled, and we are up for the challenge, and we have some plans that we can do to overcome the noise, if that is a factor. We will be OK."

BYU will become the first team from the West to play at Scott Stadium in Charlottesville a second time, having won 38-35 in overtime there in 2000, LaVell Edwards' final season.

"I don't know [if playing two time zones away will affect the team]," Hill said. "I haven't experienced it yet, so I didn't travel with the team when they went back East [Notre Dame] last year because of the [knee] injury, so it will be a first for me. Leaving Friday morning, that will give us some time to get it under our belt."

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Coach Bronco Mendenhall said Wednesday that "there is always uncertainty" going into a season opener and acknowledged that he's really not sure how good Virginia will be, or how good the Cougars will be, for that matter.

"I don't think I absolutely know anything about [BYU's] team, until we play a game," he said. "I think they will try hard. If I had to say what do I most likely know -- I would say it is that. Where the execution sits -- who will make plays, how they will make plays, how they will come together -- I don't think I've known that at the beginning of any season. And I feel the same right now."

Mendenhall said Virginia is very much a mystery team, aside from personnel, because so much of the coaching staff is new.

"Don't know what the matchups are like, so you prepare the best you can, and then hopefully our staff is capable of making whatever adjustments we need, based on what we see that are unexpected," he said.

I am not able to bring you video of coach Bronco Mendenhall's post-practice address to the media on Wednesday. However, here's a transcript from the rather short session:

On what they did Wednesday and will do Thursday:

"Shorter, recovery-oriented, assignment-oriented [work]. Similar format tomorrow, with the intent to get our team as fast, and as healthy, and as recovered and assignment-sound as possible.

So I think the format has been good, I think the preparation has been solid. Next, we will just have to play, and see where we are."

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