Cougars go to Oregon on a roll

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Fans have had many questions throughout the season about who this BYU football team is, and those questions are starting to be answered. The Cougars have responded to those questions by playing their best football all season.

“I definitely feel we’re progressing and improving in a lot of different ways,” senior wide receiver McKay Jacobson said. “You just gotta build on the momentum, stay in the moment, stay in the week, and just focus on our game on Saturday.”

BYU started the season 1-2 but the team has won three games in a row to improve to 4-2. After a month straight of home games, the Cougars are traveling to Corvallis, Ore., to take on their second Pac-12 opponent, the Oregon State Beavers.

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JJ Di Luigi runs the ball through San Jose's defense on Saturday night at LaVell Edwards Stadium. The Cougars won 29-16.
“After getting consecutive wins, I think that helps out our confidence,” junior defensive back Preston Hadley said. “We’re starting to come together more as a team. I think guys are starting to play for each other and we’re really starting to click.”

The Cougars were dominant in last week’s game against San Jose State. The Cougars took a quick 2-0 lead and never lost that lead. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the game was BYU’s balanced attack. Starting quarterback Riley Nelson threw three touchdown passes in the first half, the running game finally came alive, the defense continued its consistent effort and special teams helped play an integral role in the win.

“I really thought Riley had a strong start in his first start,” BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall said. “The complement of the running game, the quarterback mobility, and passing the football made us much more difficult to defend. It provided a spark of inspiration for our team and gave us some momentum going into a road game, which we haven’t had for a while.”

Along with Nelson, sophomore running back Mike Alisa may be the most talked about player in the media this week. Alisa came into the game with two total career rushing yards but finished with 91 yards against San Jose State. He helped the Cougars gain more rushing yards than passing yards for the first time this year.

“Averaging over five yards a carry is exceptional,” Mendenhall said of Alisa. “We’ve been looking for a back to run between tackles with a physical presence.”

The special teams also contributed to the balanced win. Justin Sorensen was named Independent Special Teams Player of the Week with his perfect game against San Jose State. Sorensen finished 3-3 on PATs and 2-2 on field goals. This is the second time this year Sorensen has been awarded this honor.

Mendenhall will be returning to his alma mater for the first time since his time there as a coach and player. Mendenhall transferred to Oregon State for his final two years as a safety and linebacker and was a starter both years. After graduating, Mendenahll stayed at Oregon State as a graduate assistant and helped coach the defensive line. He also received his master’s degree in education with an emphasis in exercise physiology while at Oregon State. Mendenhall said he has mixed feelings about returning to Corvallis.

“Not a lot of success stories, but a lot of work and a lot of friendships that I still remember,” Mendenhall said. “Seems like so much time has passed from then until now, it’s hard to even go back to that place . . . I’m not quite sure how I feel about that.”

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