Will expected inclement weather play a factor for No. 13 BYU in Saturday’s Independence Bowl?
Cougars (10-2) and UAB Blazers (8-4) have enjoyed great weather in Shreveport, Louisiana, this week, but rain is expected during their matchup at Independence Stadium
SHREVEPORT, La. — BYU football players and coaches have been enjoying unseasonably warm weather, sunshine and plenty of Cajun cuisine such as bacon-wrapped alligator and other delicacies here in the Ratchet City this week.
One of those elements that has made their participation in the Independence Bowl changes on Saturday, however.
Weather forecasts call for a 90% chance of rain in the Shreveport-Bossier City area when the No. 13 Cougars face UAB at 1:30 p.m. MST at Independence Stadium. Daytime high temperatures will drop from the mid-70s to low-60s, meteorologists say.
‘That’s all we have been talking about, is being ready to play. Bowl games have distractions; You have a pretty long period of time between your last game and bowl game and usually the team that is most ready to play wins.” — BYU offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick.
That’s not great news for a BYU offense that struggled a bit in the rare times it played in the rain this season. The Cougars lost 26-17 to Boise State on a semi-rainy day in Provo and defeated Washington State 21-19 in Pullman when it rained on and off throughout the game.
Those were 10-2 BYU’s two lowest-scoring games of the year.
“Throughout the week, we have practiced getting ready for a wet ball, over-emphasizing ball security, making sure we take care of it,” BYU running back Lopini Katoa said Thursday before practice at the Loyola College Prep school’s Flyer Field. “That’s (definitely) an issue for us in this game.”
vs. Alabama-Birmingham (8-4)
Dec. 18, 1:30 p.m. MST
Radio: KSL 1160 AM/102.7 FM
Linebacker Ben Bywater said that attitude carries over to the defensive side as well.
“We are preparing for rain, so ball security is going to be huge,” Bywater said. “Punching the ball out on defense is going to be big, as well as fundamentals like stopping the run. We know with tougher weather they are gonna run it. Stopping it is going to be a big goal of ours.”
Assistant head coach Ed Lamb said coaches have been walking around practice and squirting the players’ hands and feet with water to get them ready for Saturday’s expected downpour. They’ve also made quarterbacks Jaren Hall, Baylor Romney and Jacob Conover throw a wet football.
“You just try to simulate that heavy, slippery ball,” Lamb said. “Really, it is about awareness. As coaches, you get what you emphasize. We are emphasizing the ball security phase of the game.”
Offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick said everything about the bowl has been top-shelf so far, and the team that best handles the weather and is most excited about playing will probably prevail.
‘That’s all we have been talking about, is being ready to play,” Roderick said. “Bowl games have distractions; You have a pretty long period of time between your last game and bowl game and usually the team that is most ready to play wins.
“The other thing is being excited to play,” Roderick continued. “I think that’s a big factor in bowl games, is the team that is most excited to be there usually is the one that has a better chance to win.”
No matter the weather, or how good the food is.