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From the shotgun

THIRD'S NO CHARM: BYU coach LaVell Edwards' team scored three third-quarter touchdowns last week against TCU after managing just seven points in the third quarters of the six previous games: "I know we hadn't been stellar, but I didn't think we were that bad," he said.

NOT QUITE PERFECT: It took a couple of series, but once the Utah State offense got cranking Saturday against Idaho, there was no stopping it.The first Aggie scoring drive, which covered 76 yards, took 1 minute and 43 seconds. After that, their touchdown scoring drives were as follows: 1:05, 1:16, 1:07, 0:29, 1:42 and 1:35.

Still, John L. Smith wasn't completely satisfied with the 63-17 win.

"There are a lot of things we need to correct," he said. "We made too many mistakes. We can do better."

Yeah, maybe next time the Aggies can score 100 points.

TOUGH GUARD: The latest Ute left guard is true freshman Sam White from Union High. He's made it through two starts without getting hurt (two left guards are out for the season, and one's still trying to come back from a preseason injury). "I tell you what, he's a tough sucker," says Ute coach Ron McBride. "He's a fighter. He gets in more fights in practice than any 10 guys we've got, and he's got more scars to prove it. I think he was losing a lot of those fights early; now he's starting to win some of them, so maybe that's a plus for him. He's from out there in Roosevelt where they've got a lot of oil wells, so he was brought up the hard way. But I like kids with tenacity."

BALMY BIG SKY: Despite being just 2-2 in league play, Weber State isn't giving up hopes of a Big Sky championship and a berth in the I-AA playoffs just yet. Not the way the games in the Big Sky have gone this year.

It seems the proverbial "anyone can beat anyone on a given day" holds true in the league this year.

Every team has at least one loss, and seven teams have at least two losses. Eastern Washington's only loss came to Montana State, which looked like a contender until it lost to Portland State by a 44-0 margin - at home last week. Northern Arizona knocked off Montana, which was No. 2 in the nation, but earlier the Lumberjacks suffered their only loss, to Weber State.

"It's really been crazy this year," said Weber State coach Dave Arslanian. "It's hard to explain what's going on. We'd just like these teams to have their bad games when they play against us."

WEIRD WHISTLES: "Also," says McBride, "I've never seen two inadvertent whistles in one season, in a lifetime, that were as big as those two plays." One phantom whistle cost Utah possession on an early SMU fumble that linebacker Phil Glover ran back some 40 yards in a 20-19 Ute loss. The other came last week against New Mexico, when a Juan Johnson touchdown run was called back because lineman Jay Cochran's helmet was knocked off. Utah won 15-10.

In that latter incident, McBride chased officials onto the field and caused a lot of commotion until quarterback Jonathan Crosswhite finally coaxed him off the field. "They should have penalized me, but I think they felt sorry for me," McBride said.

LEADERSHIP BY COMMITTEE: Prior to the start of the season, BYU coaches wondered who would step into the shoes of graduated middle linebacker Shay Muirbrook, a vocal and exemplary standout through several seasons.

With the Cougars battling vacancies, injuries and a suspension, defensive lineman Issiah Magalei says the leadership role was filled in a different way.

"Hey, we no longer have a head honcho at the reins," Magalei said. "We've learned that if we all play well, we're all team leaders."

NCAA DEMANDS SEATS: Even though Utah State has had crowds of more than 30,000 only three times in history, the Aggies are going to have to add some aluminum bleachers to Romney Stadium next year to make sure there are 30,000 seats in the stadium.

The reason? Because the Aggies would like to keep their official Div. I status.

The NCAA has a requirement that Div. I teams play in stadiums that seat a minimum of 30,000. But when the Aggies renovated the west grandstand this fall and installed chair seats, it meant there were 2,500 less seats than when it was all bleachers.

According to athletic director Chuck Bell, the NCAA makes allowances as long as the stadium is being remodeled, but next year USU will have to comply.

The bleachers, which will likely always sit empty unless USU is playing Utah or BYU, will either go north and south of the grandstand or on top of the dressing rooms on the north side.