I felt our guys battled hard. At halftime we were saying that everything that could have gone wrong went wrong. We thought it was over.
PROVO — After playing for nine consecutive weeks, BYU finally gets a bye.
The Cougars (6-3) don't play until Nov. 12 against Idaho at LaVell Edwards Stadium. In fact, BYU has three regular-season games remaining over a stretch of 36 days — with another bye coming up during the last week of November.
The Cougars head into their bye week following a disappointing 38-28 defeat at the hands of TCU last Friday at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
"It's a hard time right now to go into a bye week after a loss," said senior Travis Uale. "We played really well. We're going to be able to take a lot of good out of this and make big strides from this game. But it's always a sour feeling when you lose going into a bye week. It's going to be tough for us to do that. But we have three more games left and possibly a bowl game. There's a lot ahead for us so there's no reason for us to get down on ourselves."
BYU fought back from a 35-10 deficit in the third quarter to pull within 10 points with two minutes remaining in the contest. The Frogs had beaten the Cougars by an average score of 34-6 in the previous three contests.
"We take big steps playing a good team like TCU and being able to battle with them and battle to the end," Uale said. "There's a lot of good that we can take from this game. We can learn a lot on special teams and be able to improve there and on both sides of the ball and make adjustments on things that didn't go right."
"I thought we fought really well from beginning to end," said wide receiver and punt returner JD Falslev. "Even though mistakes happened, we continued to push on and continued to do the best that we could. That really defines who this team is and what BYU football is all about. It's disheartening because the final score does not reflect about this team and that's very frustrating. It's hard to take."
While coach Bronco Mendenhall was clearly disconsolate after Friday's mistake-filled game, he emphasized how much he enjoys his players.
"I admire this team, they're a privilege to coach and I was lucky to be their coach," he said. "They wanted to keep playing. I think they wished we could have played two or three more quarters. They were frustrated by the mistakes we made, but they were supporting each other. They believe in one another and I believe in them."
Following the game, during a longer-than-usual postgame team meeting in the locker room at Cowboys Stadium, Mendenhall addressed his team.
"We really respect and admire coach Mendenhall. We feel like he's there battling with us every play and every day in practice. He's one of us," said quarterback Riley Nelson. "He doesn't put on a helmet and shoulder pads or anything, but … there's some other guys had some things that they wanted to say. I think that we're very close as a team and a lot of that is due to coach Mendenhall's leadership. We respect him a lot. What he had to say was what we needed to hear. Going forward, we're very positive and optimistic for the rest of the season."
Certainly, the Cougars have plenty to work on in practice this week, after TCU exposed some weaknesses. In addition to numerous special teams miscues, BYU allowed two long touchdown passes, including a 48-yarder on the second play from scrimmage. Mendenhall took the blame for not preparing his defense better.
But Nelson liked the way that each time his team fell behind, it clawed its way back into the game.
"I felt our guys battled hard. At halftime we were saying that everything that could have gone wrong went wrong. We thought it was over," said Nelson. "But we still had some stuff to overcome in the second half. But we kept battling. We won the second half. We went into halftime down 18 and came within 10. There wasn't enough time left on the clock. Give (TCU) credit. They're a very good team, a very good defense."
Cougars on the air
Idaho at BYU
LaVell Edwards Stadium
Saturday, November 12
TV: ESPN Networks
Radio: 1160 AM, 102.7 FM