Blue Raiders head west to face BYU on Friday

MT and Cougars set to kickoff at 8 p.m. CT on ESPNU

September 24, 2013 · @MTAthletics

Head Coach Rick Stockstill

Opening Statement:

This is a big week with BYU. It's a great opportunity for us. I told our guys this is the best team we've played so far this year. They're a very physical, sound football team. I have a lot of respect for the way they play the game. They play hard in all three phases, so this is going to be a great challenge for us.

Looking through their roster, they've already got 50 guys that have already done their two-year mission. It's a team with a lot of players that are 24, 25 years old. We're going to go against grown men in this game. You can tell how physical they are. They've got guys in there who graduated from high school in 2006. This is a seasoned, veteran team that plays the game the way is supposed to be played. They remind me of us. They play hard, they're physical and tough and they don't give up. To me, it's fun watching them because it reminds me of what our team does.

On the pass rush:

They're another year older and another year stronger. They're another year in the system. We've played smarter. Early in the year, we were running by some sacks, getting upfield, and we probably could have more sacks. We're more disciplined, we're staying in our lanes and doing what we're coached to do.

On the receiving corps:

Very seldom are you going to have four or five guys with the same amount of catches. Last year, Anthony [Amos] had a bunch of catches, Kyle [Griswould] had half as many as him, and then you didn't have anybody. This year, you've got Tavarres [Jefferson] and Kyle up there at the top, and then Devin [Clarke] and others there with a little bit. Those numbers will increase. You look at it, and it's the first year Devin's played. It's the first year Terry Pettis, Marcus Henry and Demetrius Frazier have played. To me, it's not a concern, it's just natural.

On BYU's offense:

Their running game is similar to a lot of what you see. There's a lot of predetermined quarterback runs, there's the zone read stuff, and there's the power game with both the running backs and the quarterback. It's nothing out of the unusual. Their quarterback is a very dynamic runner. Whenever there's a quarterback as effective at running the ball as him, it adds another element to your offense.

On the quick turnaround and the altitude in Utah:

It is what it is. We can't make it a shorter trip, we can't play it on Saturday, and we can't lower the altitude. You have to go play the game. I did the research over the summer on the altitude. I talked to the team about it. We'll hydrate. It's the best we can do. I'm not going to make a big deal about it. We'll hydrate and take care of our bodies. Then you go out there and play the game. Yeah, it's tough to go down there, come back and play on the road again on a short week. That's why you talk in advance to prepare your body.

On the importance of the BYU game:

This is your next game, so it's the most important game right now. It's a great opportunity, we're going to go there four touchdown underdogs. Nobody thinks we can win it but us. Everybody's going to talk about the altitude. That doesn't mean anything. We have to go out there and play our best football game. It's a great opportunity for us to go out there, and play our best game offensively, defensively and in the kicking game. Hopefully, we'll go out there and get a win. We'll approach this game no differently than we approached FAU, Memphis, North Carolina or Western Carolina. To me, it's the next game up, let's go out there and get a win.

On playing and beating nationally-prominent programs:

I think recruits recognize what kind of program we have established right now. We're going to get a lot of publicity because nobody thinks we can go to BYU and win. Nobody thought we could go to Georgia Tech and win. Nobody thought we would go to North Carolina and win except us. That's how we approach it. I think we've established this program now that we're past the wow factor. At least we are inside these rooms. We're disappointed not to be 4-0 right now to be honest with you.

On establishing the line of scrimmage:

Last week, we were able to establish the run. We were able to protect Logan. We didn't give up any sacks, and we ran for nearly 300 yards. We created some sacks on the other side of the ball. I thought we did a good job for the most part of stopping the run. [BYU]'s going to get their runs. What we have to do is be really good defensively on first down. We have to be able to put it in third and long. If they continue to have third and twos and third and threes, that's to their advantage, and it makes it harder on us. Conversely, we have to be good on early downs so we stay out of third and longs.

On the unfamiliarity on BYU:

I've never been to BYU. I've never seen their stadium or competed against them. That challenge will be different and unique. It's the next game on the schedule. That's how I approach it. I'm not sitting here wishing we were playing an SEC team, an ACC team or a Conference USA team. It's the next team up. We'll go play it, and hopefully we'll play our best game.

Redshirt Senior QB Logan Kilgore

On if most of the team has been to Utah before:

No, I think that North Texas is as far west as most of the team has been. I have been to Utah a few times.

On the weather change:

It is what it is. You're not going to be able to air condition the practice field. You're not going to be able heat up the practice field to adjust for that. You take the same approach, hydrate take care of your body every day. I know we will fly out there and be able to run around a little bit to get adjusted.

On the short game week:

It bumps everything up. Instead of having Monday as our off day, Monday becomes Tuesday and today becomes our Wednesday practice and tomorrow will be our Thursday practice. Coach Stockstill and the coaches continue to reiterate that to us. Today is a Wednesday even though it's Tuesday, your mind just bumps everything up. Maybe because I have done it so much, but I don't really find any difference with a short week.

On the excitement of visiting other stadiums:

I have had a fun time going to these non-conference stadiums. Even with the new conference, I am excited to go down to UAB and Southern Miss. Growing up in California, BYU is known, and I have had friends that have gone there, played sports there and graduated from there. Families that I know will be coming to the game have a history with BYU. It's an exciting time for not only me, but everybody else. It's another game on the schedule, but we definitely recognize that there is a difference going way out west.

On having different receivers as options:

(Anthony) Amos gave us different things vertically that other guys didn't, but that doesn't mean that when it's third down and I am just looking at one game. You look at the FIU game last year and we don't win that game if Christian Collis doesn't make his first catch with 20 seconds left in the game on the left side. Certain situations come in the games and if it's been like that it's due to the reads, but there is no ranking. If it is Tavares, Terry Pettis or anybody at that position running those routes those particular times that maybe where the ball is going. I have confidence in all my guys; Christian Collis, Marcus Henry and Devin. They all have a special skillset and it is my job to get every one of them the ball.

On his comfort level with Tavarres Jefferson:

It was a great catch by Tavares, but at the same time if he drops the ball, I am not going on fourth down saying I am not going to him again. I think one of the biggest plays in the game last weekend, was the third and long, falling away and hitting Devin on that dig route. That was a huge catch for the team. He took a big hit and was able to hold onto the ball. If we don't convert, Reggie doesn't score three plays later and it is a different game. It's not just game catches. It is every day at practice, we have developed trust through spring, summer and fall.

On if he relishes the underdog role:

I wouldn't like to make a habit of it. It is just another thing that you deal with. I think we have been favored in three of the first four games. It's not like FAU spotted us seven points. They still had to work. I am sure they (BYU) are saying that three touchdown favorites does not mean a thing. I feel the same way. At the end of the day, they are going to have to score on us and we are going to have to score on them.

On the challenges BYU presents:

Actually, the way that they play has an interesting look as they change things up so much. Their pass defense is aimed at confusing the quarterback. They run around so much and show so many different looks, dropping guys here and brining guys here. As far as run defense, they have some really good players up front and I think they play just as hard as we do. I think most weeks, we go into a game and we just play harder than people. I would say this week they are a lot like us. They are always gang tackling and hustling around. It is going to be fun to play somebody like that.

Redshirt Senior LB Stephen Roberts

On stopping teams on third down:

We have to do a better job of controlling the line of scrimmage. We have to get pressure up top and make sure we are covering and doing what we need to do in the back field.

On the amount of sacks this season compared to last year:

We just as a defense understand the scheme better. There isn't as much thinking. Just going and doing. We are hungrier than what we were last year. We want to get back there and get pressure on the quarterback.

On the defensive coverage:

We have gotten a lot better in the secondary and linebackers as well. If the quarterback hesitates that one second it allows us to get back there.

On BYU's offense:

They do a little bit of everything. They do run the ball quite a bit. The quarterback can throw the ball as well. He is a big guy with a big arm. We need to be ready for anything.

On the impact of the weather:

I don't think it will bother me that much. I am sure I will be able to tell the difference, but like I said last week, once we are in the heat of the game we won't be thinking about the weather.

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