The wait until BYU’s bowl game is almost unbearable for Joshua Quezada.
"Yeah, I'm just really excited for my first bowl game experience," Quezada said. "It's been a long season and right now we're 6-6, so our main objective is to come out of this with a winning season. I'm just really looking forward to it and really excited to get the show on the road!
"I know this is my first bowl game experience but I'm not really nervous about it. I know this is the last game of the season, but I'm really pumped. I think the long layoff might have something to do with that, but at the same time it's getting us prepared. I'm just really excited and pumped."
The Cougars will leave Wednesday and take some time to enjoy the traveling experience to New Mexico.
"We get to travel and be out there Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. We're going to have some laid-back time when we get there. I think this week will be a great experience for us because we'll have time to enjoy it. Usually when we do travel we get there on Friday and then play the game on Saturday, so we don't really get a chance to enjoy the traveling experience. This time we'll be getting there a little early, so we'll be able to have some fun while we're out there. We'll have some free time and it should be fun as a team."
BYU experienced a number of losses over the course of this season, including the heartbreaker to Utah, a team that he turned down in favor of the Cougars.
"Yeah, I'm not really used to going through what we went through this season," admitted Quezada with a smile. "It's never fun losing, you know, and I want to get that last game out of my mouth and we can do that with a win against UTEP.”
Ever positive, Quezada said this season's experiences will help the Cougars as they head into the New Mexico Bowl and beyond.
"I think the one good thing about this season is I have learned a lot from it, and I think we as a team learned a lot from going through all those tough experiences," Quezada said. "I think by struggling through everything at the beginning of the season and then turning things around, we as a team have become stronger and have grown because of it heading into this bowl game against UTEP. When we had that winning streak, it was such an awesome experience. I think we want to have those types of experiences rather than the opposite, you know, and I think we will."
Though BYU appears to have a bright future, right now Quezada and the rest of the team are of course focused solely on UTEP.
"What I look for is the front of a defense," said Quezada. "I take a look at the front line and see what's up there, but one thing that as a running back you should look at most of all is their linebackers. If anything, those are the one-on-one guys, especially in our option routes and in our passing game for the running backs. So when I watch film, I like to see who they play specifically to get a feel on how to attack them within our plays. They’re good-size linebackers and we'll see how we do."
When reviewing film, Quezada has also seen aggressive play from the secondary. UTEP junior defensive back TraVaun Nixon was a second-team All-Conference USA selection by league coaches and will play a big part in the Miner secondary.
"UTEP is really aggressive and they have good size," Quezada said. "They have really good size in their secondary and have some pretty good defensive backs. I'm not really sure why they've kind of had the season they've had where they've lost some games towards the end of the season, but we're going to need to be ready for them."
The Miners’ base defense is similar to that of one of BYU’s opponents this season.
"They like to run a 4-2-5 and it's pretty similar to what TCU likes to do with their linebackers and secondary," said Quezada. "The one difference though between TCU and UTEP is UTEP's d-line isn't as strong. I think that's one difference, so we should have a good push on the offensive line and our run game should be awesome."
The Miners are flexible in how they utilize their extra defensive back.
"They like to mix up their middle a lot and with that they can do different things," Quezada said. "They'll bring down that defensive back into a linebacker spot and blitz or cover with that option. Technically it's a 4-3 defense but [they] will use that extra linebacker to cover in space or come off the edge.
"They like to mix things up a bit. You just never really know what's coming is kind of what we saw on film. They like to disguise their blitzes and will do that now and then, but we're going to be ready for them. Coach Reynolds has us ready and I think we've been prepared really well for what they'll bring."
With a strong Cougar offensive line and the feeling that UTEP's defensive line might not match up, could there be a chance BYU fans see a lot of power football on Saturday? Possibly, but being able to run the ball has always been a staple of this year's offense, especially early on. BYU isn't going to fool anyone with their run game and will rely heavily on the big boys up front to get the job done.
"We have a great offensive line that is experienced and strong, and our main objective is to rush for over 200 yards," said Quezada with a smile. "If we can run for 300 yards, hey, we'll take that objective too. It should be a lot of fun and I expect there to be more to come."