By Jed McClellan
It is a wonderful time of year. The leaves will soon be changing and the weather will start to cool. But who cares, all that matters is that it is time for football, more importantly BYU football.
The Cougars will play 11 games this season, six of which will be played in the friendly confines of LaVell Edwards Stadium, including the opener against nationally ranked Boston College on Saturday.
New head coach Bronco Mendenhall is the man charged with returning BYU football to its winning ways. After watching his team work during preseason camps and prac-tices, Mendenhall feels his team is ready.
?I like our team,? Mendenhall said. ?I think we have taken the ap-propriate steps to bring them together as a program. I think we have created unity and I think we have given them every opportunity to be prepared to play. I like our organization, I like the active format and I like their [the team?s] willingness to work day to day.?
BYU has 13 starters returning from last season?s team. Seven of those players are from the offensive side of the ball, including Davey O?Brien National Quarterback Award nominee John Beck and Biletnikoff Award nominee receiver Todd Wat-kins. Watkins also led the Mountain West Conference with 1,042 yards receiving and set a league single-season record with a 94.7 yards-per-game receiving average.
On defense, six starters return from last season?s team which went 5-6 and just missed a bowl game. Manaia Brown returns to anchor the defensive line and has been named to the Lombardi Award watch list. Cam-eron Jensen, who has also been named to the Lombardi Award watch list as well as the Bronko Nagurski Trophy and Butkus Award watch lists, returns at middle linebacker. Jensen also led the team in tackles last season with 103 and returned an interception for a touchdown against UNLV.
Jensen and Beck have been cho-sen by their teammates to represent the team as team captains. Jensen feels the team has worked hard and is looking forward to getting on with the season.
?It?ll be fun to get out there, see where we?re at and play another team and start hitting some other people,? Jensen said. ?We?re going to be ready. Coach has been teaching us all off-season. It started the first day he [Mendenhall] became head coach. All the hours spent in the weight room and working out, it is time to just go out and play.?