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Crowton stresses finishing the drives

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PROVO — For BYU's offense, the focus is on finishing.

After reviewing the film of Saturday's 24-10 loss to Air Force, coach Gary Crowton said he was "more encouraged than discouraged," particularly with the second-half performance.

The Cougars had a few good drives that were stalled by mistakes. "We have to keep doing what we're doing," Crowton said, "but finish the drives."

In other words, score points.

Since Matt Berry went down with a hand injury against New Mexico, BYU has scored three touchdowns in 10 quarters.

Quarterback John Beck threw a 25-yard touchdown toss to tight end Phillip Niu to cap BYU's second drive in the second half. On the Cougars' third possession, they marched to the Falcon 35-yard line when BYU was flagged for a false start on second-and-6. Two plays later, the Cougars had to punt.

BYU was moving the ball again on their third possession of the half until Marcus Whalen coughed up a fumble.

"We had good drives, we didn't finish," Beck said. "Coaches are emphasizing the need to finish and making every play count."

During Monday's practice, BYU went through a live two-minute drill to work on that aspect of the game.

Crowton said he won't make any lineup changes on the offensive line. In the backfield, Rey Brathwaite will get most of the carries. Whalen, who injured his foot last month, is still not fully healed.

"Marcus is getting stronger," Crowton said. "Right now, Rey's playing really well. Until Marcus is full speed, Rey's probably going to be the back."

Wide receiver Jason Kukahiko, who has been battling a leg injury, is expected to play this week at San Diego State. "We'll be a little healthier and have a little more depth (at receiver)," Crowton said.

Crowton insists he likes the direction of his offense.

"We're progressing in that area and the timetable of it is, we're always hoping it's going to happen quicker. But I can see it moving. It's probably not moving quite as quickly as I'd like it to because of the change of quarterbacks. I thought John Beck played pretty good. I was very encouraged. No fumbled snaps, no interceptions, only one sack. There were a lot positives I saw in that game . . . We're moving forward. We're not moving backwards."

Crowton says the mood around the team is good. "We're still 1-1 in conference. We're not where we want to be, but there's no need to panic where we're at," he said. "Our mental state's good. I think we're in good spirits, really. The team's held together well."

INJURY REPORT: Linebacker Levi Madarieta has a stress fracture in his leg. He is listed as probable for Saturday's contest . . . Berry may start throwing Thursday or Friday, Crowton said. Berry may make the trip to San Diego State.

E-MAIL: jeffc@desnews.com