Y. football • Mendenhall says team better prepared to handle running QBs like the Washington star.
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Washington quarterback Jake Locker stole the show when BYU's football team beat the Huskies 28-27 on Sept. 6, 2008, in Seattle.
But the thing Locker did that day to capture headlines flinging the football high into the air after his 3-yard touchdown run with just seconds remaining to draw a 15-yard penalty for excessive celebration helped the Cougars far more than it hurt them.
BYU's Jan Jorgensen blocked the PAT attempt from a longer distance due to the penalty, and the Cougars had finally beaten a nonconference opponent on the road for the first time since 2002. It was BYU's first road win over a team from a BCS conference since it beat Mississippi State in 2001.
Keeping Locker projected by many to be the No. 1 pick in next year's NFL Draft from hurting them on Saturday will be a priority for the Cougars this week as they ramp up preparations for the 5 p.m. game (CBS College Sports) at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
Locker's "runs are more sporadic and they are timed more appropriately, and they are blocked very well," BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said. "But he is throwing the ball more accurately and they are relying on him to throw it more, so their offense is more comprehensive. … But when his number is called to run the football, or when he can scramble, which is maybe even more dangerous, he is still very, very talented."
In the 2008 game, Locker rushed 18 times for 62 yards and two TDs, numbers that the Cougars were reasonably happy with, considering that they've historically been burned by mobile quarterbacks.
Mendenhall said he believes the Cougars are better prepared this year to handle running quarterbacks.
"Certainly, because we practice against an active quarterback [Riley Nelson], and we have defended a few more active quarterbacks since then," he said. "Whether we will be successful or not, that remains to be seen. But certainly the ideas we have [are better], and knowing what to prepare for."
A year ago, BYU went into its season opener against Oklahoma with question marks surrounding its health, not its inexperience. Star running back Harvey Unga was listed as questionable all week with a strained hamstring, and ended up not playing in the 14-13 upset of the Sooners at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Mendenhall said Saturday that all the projected starters are healthy and ready to go against Washington. He said this camp ties for the fewest number of injuries of any camp since he's been the head coach.
The only starting position that is unclear is tight end, where the coach said any of five guys could start or see playing time. Freshman tight end Devin Mahina has recovered from a sprained ankle, and Mendenhall said, "I would anticipate him playing, and playing a lot."
Mendenhall answered the starting quarterback question Friday, saying Nelson would start but that freshman Jake Heaps would play perhaps as much as Nelson.
Saturday, he named senior Shane Hunter and junior Aveni Leung-Wai as the starters at inside linebacker. However, he said freshman Zac Stout, sophomore Brandon Ogletree and sophomore Austen Jorgensen are not far behind the starters and will likely play.
P Washington at BYU,
Saturday, 5 p.m.
TV • CBS College Sports