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PROVO — It certainly wasn't the outcome Southern Utah was looking for, losing to BYU 37-7 at LaVell Edwards Stadium on Saturday, but there's no question that players and coaches were grateful for the experience. Playing as an FCS team, the Thunderbirds rarely get the opportunity to play in-state FBS teams, but did so twice this year, having played at Utah the first week season.
“It’s huge — just for the guys in the state — we recruit a lot of Utah kids,” said Southern Utah coach Demario Warren. “To be able to play these games, I think it helps with recruiting, and the guys deserve the opportunity. Hopefully we can continue to at least play them once every four years, so we can have the opportunity to come to these stadiums.”
Southern Utah's performance on Saturday included several mistakes and missed opportunities on both sides of the ball, but also some positives to take away to Cedar City. Notable among the positives was neutralizing the BYU running attack — particularly in the first half of play while forcing three Cougar turnovers.
According to SUU defensive lineman Robert Torgerson, shutting down the run is something the team prides itself with, but maybe even more so on Saturday, considering the opponent. Torgerson went against former teammates Keyan Norman and Andrew Eide, acquitting himself relatively nicely and loving the opportunity.
“I’ve been looking forward to it all year,” Torgerson said. “I knew coming in that there would be a lot of emotions with it, but I thought like we handled it well.”
SUU players and coaches also expressed gratitude for former coaches Ed Lamb and Jenaro Gilford, both of whom left the Thunderbird staff to coach at BYU after last season. Warren was able to meet with Lamb, whom he replaced as head coach, following the game, spending some time to catch up with his former mentor.
“I’m just so thankful for what he’s done for me,” Warren said. “If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be in the profession. To be able to be where I’m at, at this stage, it’s a blessing and it wouldn’t have happened if not for him. So I owe that man just a lot.”
SUU defensive back Josh Thornton wasn't able to find Lamb postgame, something he was regretful for, but was able to spend some time with his position coach, Gilford, prior to kickoff.
“He actually came out and found me before the game,” Thornton said. “We always have some jokes back and forth. So I saw coach Gilford and talked with him for a while.”