Once a Ute, now a Cougar

Cougar safety Travis Uale had a decent game in BYU's 17-16 loss to Texas, hauling in an interception. Now the senior Cougar will face the Utes, a team he once belonged to, one last time suited up in Cougar blue.

It was a tough loss for the Cougars in Austin, Texas. Once again the Cougar defense held command against a tough opponent, giving up only its first touchdown on the season with 10:46 left in the third quarter. That broke a streak of just more than 104 straight minutes without allowing a touchdown. The confidence of the Cougar defense has been riding sky high.

"I think our confidence comes from our preparation during the week," Uale said. "I feel like every Saturday night when the game is over, I'm not saying our confidence goes down but, as we practice during the week and Monday and Tuesday goes on we're held to such a high standard by Coach Mendenhall that our confidence slowly rises again."

A talented offense in possession of some of the top talent in the country – albeit young talent – Texas was held by the Cougar defense to just 3.9 yards per carry and 6.2 yards per catch. Uale is very confident heading into the game against Utah, his former team. He's also looking to get rid of the bad Texas taste still in his mouth.

"It's a great opportunity for us to play a good team and hopefully bounce back from in what happened in a close loss from Texas," said Uale.

Uale started his football career at the University of Utah and redshirted in 2005 before transferring to BYU after serving an LDS mission to Monterrey, Mexico. Now the senior will face the team he once suited up for one last time.

"I'm sure you guys think it means a lot more than what it really does to me because I redshirted at Utah," Uale said. "It's a big game but I don't feel any aggression because, you know, I used to play there. I think they're a great team and we're excited that we get the opportunity to play them early in the year."

Last year, BYU lost to Utah in what was a very close game. The Cougar defense held Utah scoreless through three quarters and gave up just 89 yards rushing and 207 total yards passing the entire game while forcing three turnovers. It was through a few mistakes, including some turnovers in the fourth quarter, that allowed Utah to finally put points on the board.

"Well last year it came down to special teams play," said Uale. "Special teams play was critical. There was a punt that touched one of our players and they recovered it. Then that led to a [blocked] field goal at the end, so I think it's crucial that special teams are on point on Saturday and that will help us in the game. It will be a big part in our win or loss."

Following last year's loss to Utah, Coach Mendenhall publically stated that he didn't feel the best team won. When Uale was asked that same question, he sidestepped the issue, electing to let the comments of his head coach do the talking.

"I don't know if I can answer that question," Uale said. "I'm sure Coach Mendenhall talked a lot about that after the game and he didn't feel like the best team won. I feel like it was the little things that hurt us and what I just talked about.

"Special teams was really big and those plays like that punt return and that field goal were really big plays. Defense and offense played really well and the crucial plays came down on special teams."

So as Uale gets set to play one last time against Utah, one has to suspect there is an underlying feeling and unspoken message that the Cougars want to get across to their old foe now in the Pac-12. The rivalry might not hold as much sway with both teams no longer vying for the same conference trophy, but emotionally the Cougars still feel the same about their old nemesis and want to send a message.

"I'm sure a little bit had been taken away," Uale said. "A win or a loss, you know, won't mean the same thing because Utah has their own conference and we aren't in a conference. I'm sure it's lost a little bit that way, like, on paper, but for us I think we feel like it's just the same, you know. The feeling-wise with the rivalry and all that, it feels the same. They're a good team and it's a good opportunity for us to play a good team."

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