Cougars ready to jump into MWC play

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    By Robert Weiler

    Four games into the BYU football team”s 2004 season, the Cougars are starting anew.

    Sort of.

    BYU is looking to leave its demanding non-conference schedule in the past and focus on its Mountain West Conference season opener this Saturday against Colorado State.

    “What I”m asking our players to do is put the non-conference games behind us,” said BYU head coach Gary Crowton. “We”re 0-0 right now. Anything can happen in conference.”

    Despite the 1-3 record, Crowton said his team was able to come away from its non-conference schedule healthy and with momentum.

    “When you play a very challenging non-conference schedule, the biggest thing you worry about is getting beat up and not having your best players for conference,” he said. “We gained some momentum in our loss [to Boise State] being 21-point underdogs, but we still have a lot of work to do.”

    As the new season begins, Crowton said the offense is still looking to establish a stronger running game and involve the tight ends more often.

    “We”re going to continue to throw because of our talented receivers, but once defenses start doubling up on the outside, that [throwing to tight ends] will open up,” he said.

    Senior wide receiver Jason Kukahiko said the offense is not where it was hoping to be before conference season arrived, but is headed in the right direction.

    “We want to be scoring 40-50 points a game,” he said. “We want to be one of the top teams in the nation in scoring offense. The Boise State game gave us a lot of confidence in where we wanted to be and where we”re going.”

    Defensively, cornerback Nate Solberg said the Cougars are not where they want to be, either. He said the team”s preseason goals are still falling short against the pass and the run, as well as its ability to sack the quarterback.

    “Each person needs to do their job and have faith in the other 10 that are on the field,” he said.

    Crowton said he has been pleased with the first-team defense considering the level of talent they have faced, but admitted his defense lacks depth.

    Colorado State (1-3) is also coming off a difficult non-conference schedule, facing in-state rival Colorado, Minnesota and USC, who wiped out the Rams in Ft. Collins 49-0. Colorado State pulled off its first win of the season last week against Montana State 39-14.

    Cougar Tracks: With an 8 p.m. kickoff, the Church Satellite System has been approved to broadcast the BYU-Colorado State game following Saturday”s General Conference Priesthood session. The game will also be produced by SportsWest and carried on KSL-Ch. 5.

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