If you are a fan who likes to travel with the Cougars as they play games in various places around the nation, this is the season for you.
When BYU was in the Mountain West Conference, BYU Athletic Director Tom Holmoe and coach Bronco Mendenhall never really had to worry about scheduling more than a few games. In their first season as independents, one of the main challenges is putting together a solid schedule of 12 games.
Holmoe told reporters in October that it is a great opportunity to schedule a full season.
“It is exciting,” Holmoe said. “It is an opportunity for our program to get out to places we haven’t been, and to go back to places where we have been in the past and enjoyed the experience.”
BYU’s contract with ESPN has helped them put together a formidable schedule for the 2011 season.
Road games may prove to be challenging for the Cougars this year. To start the season, the Cougars will face two tradition-rich football teams, Ole Miss and Texas, in their respective stadiums.
“It’s really been a fun deal for us to look at our schedule and to start off with Ole Miss, then go to Texas and then play Utah at home,” sophomore quarterback Jake Heaps said. “It’s really exciting for us, and honestly I don’t know if you could pick a better schedule.”
This season, 10 of the 12 games will be televised on the ESPN networks, including four of five road games, with broadcast plans for the Oregon State game yet to be determined. The Cougars will have the opportunity to show a national audience they can play against tough teams.
Redshirt freshman receiver Ross Apo — who originally committed to the Longhorns — has special interest in BYU’s second game of the season against Texas.
“I can’t wait to play them,” Apo said. “It’s better now that we can play teams like Texas, and prove to the nation that we can actually play against good teams.”
Although the Cougars like the opportunity to play on national TV, Heaps insists he’s just excited about the chance to play.
“Having the opportunity [to play], whether we play in front of nobody or we play on ESPN, is awesome,” Heaps said. “At the end of the day we’re going out there to play ball. It doesn’t matter who is watching, it doesn’t matter who is expecting us to win or lose, we’re just going out there together, knowing what we’re capable of and trying to reach an end goal.”