BYU football eyes quick turn around against Middle Tennessee

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After the football team’s disappointing rivalry loss against Utah, no one is complaining about only having five days of rest before taking the field again.

“The best medicine now is to have a game that’s one day earlier and be forced to get right back to work,” said head coach Bronco Mendenhall at the Cougars’ practice Monday.

Nose tackle Eathyn Manemaleuna said the team is excited to move on.

Michael Alisa protests a call during Saturday's game at LaVell Edwards Stadium. The Utes beat the Cougars 20-13.
Michael Alisa protests a call during Saturday’s game against Utah at LaVell Edwards Stadium. The Utes beat the Cougars 20-13.

“We want to bury all that,” he said. “This is another opportunity to show what we have and how hard we’re willing to work.”

After a short week of preparation, BYU will square off against the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders at LaVell Edwards Stadium on Sept. 27. Although the Blue Raiders are one of the least recognizable opponents on this year’s schedule, the Cougars aren’t chalking it up as an easy win.

“We’re not taking them lightly at all,” said wide receiver Skyler Ridley. “They’ve got speed, and they’re a good team.”

Middle Tennessee is a program on the rise. The Blue Raiders are 3-1 this year with wins against Western Carolina, Memphis and Florida Atlantic. Their only loss came against North Carolina. This is Middle Tennessee’s debut season in Conference USA, having gone 8-4 in its encore season in the Sun Belt Conference in 2012.

Despite Middle Tennessee’s good start in 2013, the Blue Raiders have given up an average of 28.5 points per game. That’s good news for the Cougars, who have had a hard time getting into the end zone in both of their losses this season.

“There’s urgency to get our execution to match our opportunities,” said Mendenhall, reflecting upon the team’s one touchdown in five “blue zone” attempts against Utah.

Mendenhall admitted the team can greatly improve in the passing game but expressed his confidence in sophomore quarterback Taysom Hill.

“The number of balls he is throwing well and to the right person — I think he’s making progress,” he said. “There might be a breakthrough. It wouldn’t surprise me if it’s this week.”

Mendenhall reported on the condition of running back Jamaal Williams — who was carted off the field during the game against Utah after diving head first into two Utah tacklers.

“It will go documented as a concussion and severe stinger — but no neck or skeletal damage,” Mendenhall said.

According to Mendenhall, concussions protocol requires anywhere from four days to two weeks of rest, and the decision about whether or not Williams will play against Middle Tennessee is yet to be determined.

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