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Motivated Cooks lifts Beavers

PROVO, Utah — As Brandin Cooks lay on the turf at LaVell Edwards Stadium, his right ankle rolled underneath him, he had the same thought as he has in every game and in every practice.

"That's what it's all about, making my mom proud,'' Cooks said. "Keep pushing, no matter what's going on. I had to bounce back — whatever it took, I had to do it. I just wanted to hurry up and get it re-taped so I could get back out there.''

Cooks limped off, got taped up, and went out and finished with eight receptions for 173 yards. He and Markus Wheaton simply ran past the nation's fifth-ranked defense in the Beavers' 42-24 win Saturday.

"Oregon State's ability to throw it over the top of us, big pass plays — I thought that was the difference in the game,'' BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said.

In all, the Beavers gained 450 yards — 261 of those by Cooks and Wheaton. It was Cooks' third 100-yard receiving game of the season so far.

"We put a lot of responsibility on Markus' and Brandin's shoulders, and they like it,'' OSU coach Mike Riley said. "I knew we couldn't play BYU just slugging it out up front, and I knew we could throw the football.''

But when Cody Vaz threw the ball to Cooks in the first quarter, and he rolled his ankle on a twisting 43-yard catch, the Beavers were in danger of losing a major cog in their offense. Vaz had started impeccably, hitting all five of his passes for 75 yards, filling in for Sean Mannion, but he needed both his playmakers.

"When one person goes down, the next one steps up — that's what this team's about,'' Cooks said.

And sometimes, when one person goes down, the same one steps up. In this case, Cooks did that with toe nails painted white on his bad foot and blue on his left foot — signifying another opponent the Beavers have run over in their 5-0 start.

Riley talked earlier in the week about Cooks' motivation when asked how his receiver can go all-out on every play — finishing pass patterns, diving for deflected balls — in practice.

"The best motivation guys can find is self-motivation,''Riley said. "Cooks is a high, high character person. He only knows one way to do it. He works hard. That is catchy for everybody else. Really, we have a whole team like that now — if you don't do that, then you stand out the other way.

"Speeches rarely last more than a few minutes. Decisions they make about how hard they want to work, how good they want to be, really, is a personal decision, and Brandin is a great example.''

Back to Cooks' example. After his father died when he was 6 years old, Andrea Cooks raised four boys by herself — a lesson that stays with Cooks.

"I knew she had hard days, but she kept pushing, and nothing can be harder than that. I'm playing something that I love. She didn't choose to do that, I'm choosing to do this. If she can get through anything, I've got to get through.''

It's not just speed that allowed Cooks to make that 43-yard catch — or all the catches that came after it.