PROVO, Utah (ABC 4 Sports) - This is it. This is BYU's last chance to prove itself against a quality opponent when the Cougars take on Georgia Tech (3-4) Saturday afternoon in Atlanta.
BYU's final three games are against Idaho, San Jose State and New Mexico State, so this is the last high profile team the Cougars will face until a potential bowl game. So they are understandably feeling a sense of urgency.
"Ya, no question," said BYU quarterback Riley Nelson. "They are an ACC team, and we were preseason top-25. I'm sure they are battling a lot of the same stuff we're battling as far as injuries and things like that, so they are a good quality opponent for us."
The best team BYU has beat this year is Utah State, and that was a 6-3 victory at home. After playing two consecutive tough games against top-10 teams, you would think BYU (4-4) would be feeling disappointed with itself. But despite hanging with #7 Oregon State before falling 42-24, and not being able to hold a 4th quarter lead against #5 Notre Dame, the Cougars are feeling encouraged.
"Disappointed isn't the right word for it because they don't act like it when they practice," said offensive coordinator Brandon Doman. "I think a disappointed team backs off during practice and acts discouraged. But they're certainly frustrated with the outcome of four losses."
The BYU offense has shown signs of life of late. Bronco Mendenhall, who said he was pleased with the offense's progress, realizes the Cougars are going to have to put up points Saturday against the Yellow Jackets, who boast the top rushing offense in the nation.
"I think they're going to have to step it up for us to have success in the game," Mendenhall said. "They give up 28 points per game and so that's what we're going to have to shoot for."
"Coach Mendenhall said [there has been progress], so I guess," said Nelson. "But I'm not one to take moral victories. We didn't do what we had to do to get the win, so in my mind that wasn't a good enough effort [against Notre Dame]. It many have been a good effort, it wasn't good enough."
"Georgia Tech is a good team," said running back Jamaal Williams. "But I believe if we come out and do our job, play fast and execute, then I believe we can put some points up on the board."
Kickoff is set for 1:00 p.m. mountain time in Atlanta.