Monday, August 24, 2009
BYU not leery about season opener against Oklahoma
By ESPN.com staff
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe is heading into the Cougars' Sept. 5 opener against Oklahoma with his eyes wide open, despite a patchwork offensive line.
Holmoe said he's not intimidated by the challenge of trying to stop the Sooners at the new Dallas Cowboys Stadium, who have claimed three-straight Big 12 titles and played in the national championship game last season.
"Certainly, with a team as nationally respected as Oklahoma, knowing what they have coming back, sure, it's a risk. It's a risk -- you could lose the game, you could have a bad game and get blown out," Holmoe told the Salt Lake City Deseret News. "But I don't think it's going to ruin our season.
"A lot of people are afraid to play the intersectional games because they're afraid they might lose and might not go to a BCS game. We're not thinking that way. I think there are way more positives about it than possible negatives. If we were scared about all that, we'd never play anybody."
Holmoe said he and BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall share the same enthusiasm about playing in the nationally-televised game against the Sooners.
"I don't think I would have (scheduled this game) four or five years ago," Holmoe said. "I said at the time, when we ended up playing a couple of I-AA teams, that we needed to do that. We weren't quite strong enough to play a game like that and, regardless of the outcome, continue to go forward."
"This is a game we can get a lot out of it. It can be a real big-time boost for our program. I think we're in a position now where we can play this game. That's why we took it on. Bronco and I feel this program is ready for this game."
Their confidence is coming despite a run of bad luck earlier in training camp.
BYU left tackle Matt Reynolds, the Cougars' lone returning starter, fractured a finger earlier in practice when it was stuck on a jersey. His injury is expected to keep him out until just before the Sept. 5 opener.
Jason Speredon, BYU's projected starting guard, went down with a torn rotator cuff that will idle him for the year.
Versatile freshman Houston Reynolds tore his ACL at practice last week -- another injury that will keep him out for the season.
That's coming from a BYU offensive front that lost four starters from last season and will be challenged by a deep and talented Oklahoma defensive front that goes at least two-deep in every position.
"We have good players, a lot of players that, in my opinion, are All-Americans. We're a pretty strong team," Holmoe said. "Are we the best team in the country? No. But we're a very good team. I don't think there's a team in the country that we wouldn't play."
The Sooners will provide a quick measuring stick for that bravado.