By Ryan Haddox
The line out of Las Vegas when the Armed Forces Bowl matchup was announced was a “Pick ‘Em”, or in Layman’s terms, a toss up. The game is one of the more evenly matched contests of the 2011 bowl season, pitting the 9-4 BYU Cougars against the 8-4 Tulsa Golden Hurricane. Both teams come to Dallas out of state, and ESPN color commentator and former Heisman trophy winner Andre Ware talked about what kind of experience it is to get to showcase this game in a football hotbed like Texas.
“It’s a good opportunity because it gives it some Texas flavor; you get to find out exactly what the state it is all about. So many people from outside of Texas have this preconceived notion about how the state actually is, so you get to spend some time and do it in a bowl setting, but as you get closer to game day, you start to get the thirst to play.”
While Ware acknowledged that it is a special experience for out of state kids to come play football down here, he also lauded quarterbacks G.J. Kinne and Riley Nelson, saying, “What you see on film is that they exude leadership, the guys around them are all ears, you can tell they have the full attention of their offensive unit. And especially with G.J., he means so much to Tulsa’s offense that they really have to have him play well, and so he takes that responsibility and leadership and he produces every week. On the other side, Riley Nelson, he took over about three games into the season and he really earned and played his way into that type of role as well.”
Ware’s keys to the game included that Tulsa get G.J. Kinne into a comfort zone early, saying “He’s gotta play well in order for them to have success, so they have to get him going.” As for BYU, he said, “its simple, BYU turned the ball over nine times in their last five games, so they have to take care of the football.”
For both schools, the advice needs to be heeded. Andre Ware played college football at its highest level in 1989, and the guy knows a thing or two about being successful at the college level.