"It's been a roller coaster year, but we're glad to be in a bowl game," Van Noy said. "I'm excited for myself to spend more time with my friends on the team. I think that's one thing I like about going to a bowl game is I get to spend more time with my teammates. That's the one thing I like about this is I get to be with them more.
"We're ready to go out and have fun and show the world basically because we'll be playing on ESPN. We're ready to bounce back from that loss to Utah. It's the first [bowl] game of the year, so everybody is going to be tuning in to watch us ball out."
BYU was one of the five winningest teams of the previous four years. That's the type of future success that Van Noy and others have in mind.
"We're going to get this team to where it once was and we look at this next game as the starting point," he said. "It's been a humbling experience for us. Even with the seniors, they feel it's been a humbling experience. They were just expecting things and so were we. We didn't have the chemistry that we do now. It's a cool thing to have and we're just ready to build on that for our bowl game and then onward. It's been a really good learning experience for us and all of us have learned a lesson and know what it takes to win."
Defensive starters Vic So'oto, Shane Hunter, Brandon Bradley, Brian Logan and team captain Andrew Rich won't be here come spring ball because they are graduating. That means other players will have to step up next season.
"Coach Mendenhall has engraved into us a specific type of culture that we want to build on here," Van Noy said. "He's probably been the hardest example on me in my class because I've been the hardest to deal with. I'm just glad he did do that to me because I really needed to change some personal things about myself. I've become better because of it and in the long run I'll be a better person and player. He knows what he's doing and I see that now and from over the past two years.
"We want to send our seniors off in the right way. These guys have been here putting in all the extra time in the weight room and running hard for Coach Mendenhall. They've been the ones doing drills, the eco challenge and all of those crazy things that we do. Once they're gone, the culture of our defense falls on us, so we have to show them respect and try hard to win this game for them to send them off with a smile on their face. We have to send them off with a winning season and as the champions they deserve to be."
The culmination of this year's lessons will be summed up in how the Cougars perform against UTEP. With the Cougars going independent next season, the New Mexico Bowl can be used as a springboard for a group of young players looking to take BYU even further than before.
"All of those lessons that we've learned over the season, we're taking those things and going forward into the UTEP game - the way we practice every day with the running and the hitting," said Van Noy. "We know nothing is going to come easy and so we practice with that mindset. Then we're taking how we prepare and practice and carrying that over into the game. The mentality that we have is an all-out mentality. We know we have to take this into the bowl game so that can set us up for next season. That's when everything really starts, because we're kind of heading into uncharted waters.
"For this bowl game, they're going to see me try hard, that's for sure. I won't be nervous and it's just going to be a regular game for me, you know. It is the last game of the season, so you want to lay it all out on the field like every other game I've been in. When I come walking off the field after the game, I want to be as tired as heck. I want to leave it all on the field."
When one talks about BYU's younger players, one can't leave out wide receiver Ross Apo, who barely played this season because of an injury.
"Ross Apo has been my roommate at home here, and so it's been a lot of fun being around him," Van Noy said. "He's been doing really well. I think he's going to do a lot of things for us next year. He should be ready to go and he's really excited about next year. He's seen how good Jake [Heaps] has done this year and he's way excited about next season. It's going to be a really good combination having those two out on the field together next season. It's going to be good for us going into this bowl game, but it's also going to be good for us because we're getting ready for the future."