The 2011 Brigham Young Cougars could have the best rushing duo the school has seen in 15 years. In 2010, J.J. DiLuigi rushed for 917 yards and true freshman Joshua “Juice” Quezada came on strong at the end of the year to finish with 505 yards. They combined for 13 touchdowns on the ground. With both of them back, they could provide a potent one-two punch out of the backfield.
The BYU football standard for dynamic rushing duos came in 1996 with Brian McKenzie and Ronney Jenkins.
Both McKenzie and Jenkins were new to BYU in 1996. McKenzie came via the junior college ranks, and Jenkins was fresh out of high school in Port Hueneme, California. They had impressive resumes, and as soon as they were brought up to speed on the BYU offense they proved they were no frauds.
Game four is when both backs started showing some signs of life. The New Mexico Lobos were in Provo, and they were giving the Cougars a run for their money. Ronney Jenkins scored his first career touchdown on a 6-yard run with 6:11 to play in the third quarter. That score put BYU ahead 17-14, and it ended up being the game winner with neither team scoring again. On the day, Jenkins had 37 yards on just 7 carries. McKenzie added 59 yards on 14 carries.
The next game (SMU), with the score tied 3-3, the dynamic duo scored three consecutive touchdowns. McKenzie got things started with a 17-yard run in the first quarter. Jenkins scored the next two from one and 21 yards out in the second quarter. BYU was now pulling away from the Mustangs 24-3.
They matched each other score for score the next two games (three TDs apiece) while still getting limited touches. In game eight at Tulsa, McKenzie exploded. He rushed for 132 yards on 13 carries. Although his totals were not as impressive, Jenkins kept himself in the spotlight with two more rushing touchdowns and a 48-yard pass reception.
The two reversed roles three weeks later against Rice. Jenkins had his first 100-yard rushing game with 109 yards on 12 carries. McKenzie scored twice on the ground while also accounting for 97 yards rushing.
After Jenkins scored once through the air and once on the ground, and McKenzie scored on a 44-yard run against Hawaii, these two backs became the Utah Utes' worst nightmare. McKenzie and Jenkins were unstoppable as they combined for 332 yards rushing and four touchdowns. McKenzie had more yards—176 to 156—and Jenkins had more touchdowns—3 to 1. Jenkins was named the WAC offensive player of the week. Their phenomenal efforts secured BYU a spot in the WAC championship game.
In the WAC championship game, McKenzie scored on a run in the second quarter. It was the 11th consecutive game that at least one of the dynamic duo scored a touchdown.
McKenzie ended the season as BYU’s leading rusher with 950 yards and 11 touchdowns on 167 carries. Jenkins was second on the team with 733 yards and 11 touchdowns on 128 carries. Jenkins also added 3 touchdowns through the air. Each back averaged 5.7 yards per carry. Jenkins’ rushing yards total was the most ever by a BYU freshman. Jenkins also earned the WAC Mountain Division Freshman of the Year award.
This dangerous, dynamic duo was a large reason why the 1996 offense was one of BYU’s best ever and the 1996 team set a school and NCAA record with 14 wins and finished with a number 5 national ranking.
DiLuigi and Juice hope to have a similar season that leads to similar results in 2011.
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