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SPORTS WEEKEND | COLLEGE FOOTBALL / WEEK 2 PRIMER

This Might WAC Up the Alliance

GAME OF THE WEEK: WASHINGTON AT BRIGHAM YOUNG: Saturday, 12:30 p.m. No TV

September 05, 1997|CHRIS DUFRESNE

Brigham Young finished 14-1 last season. The one was Washington. In BYU's fight for respect against the bowl alliance, the 29-17 Washington loss always got thrown back in the Cougars' face. Saturday, in Provo, BYU can make quite a mission statement with a victory. A win would not only vault BYU up the national rankings, it would be a key hide to hang for the beleaguered Western Athletic Conference.

"We really can talk all we want," BYU Coach LaVell Edwards said. "But what the conference has to do is really start winning our share of those kinds of game."

Reality: If BYU couldn't beat Washington last year, how can it in 1997? Washington is a legitimate national championship contender, stocked to the gills. People forget that Rashaan Shehee, before he was injured and gave way to Corey Dillon, rushed for 131 yards and two touchdowns against BYU last year.

Shehee is back, along with quarterback Brock Huard, All-American offensive lineman Benji Olson and outside linebacker Jason Chorak.

BYU, meanwhile, is breaking in a new quarterback, having settled on Paul Shoemaker for now to succeed record-breaking Steve Sarkisian. Shoemaker, a 23-year-old redshirt junior with a wife and child, has thrown 13 passes in his career. Shoemaker won a tough battle with sophomore Kevin Feterik and was not named the starter until Tuesday. This will be Shoemaker's first start since high school.

Worse, BYU will be playing without star defensive back Omarr Morgan, who begins a three-game suspension for disciplinary reasons.

"You can't manufacture experience," Edwards said of his secondary. "And that's the problem there."

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