Men's Football Blog

Tuesday Encore - Hoffman, Alisa and more ESPN

Jul 17, 2012 - Posted by Aaron Sorenson at 3:11 pm | Updated: July 17, 2012 7:39 pm | Permalink

Biletnikoff Watch List and Inspiring Actor?

On Tuesday BYU wide receiver Cody Hoffman was named to the Biletnikoff Award Watch List, an award given to the nation's top receiver.

The junior from Cresent City, Calif., led BYU with 943 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns last season. He recorded five games with 100 or more receiving yards, including a 162-yard performance in a victory against Oregon State. You can read more here.

In case you missed it, BYUtv released a commercial Monday featuring Hoffman as he "loyally guards the dark halls and studios of BYUtv." You can see the video here

Good Works Team

Junior running back Michael Alisa also received recognition on Tuesday for his off-the-field good works as a member of the BYU football team. Allstate Insurance Company and the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) announced 117 nominees for the 2012 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team®, including Alisa. As one of college football’s most prestigious off-the-field honors, the award recognizes a select group of college football players committed to making a difference in their communities.  

A junior from Laie, Hawai’i, Alisa enters the 2012 season as BYU’s top returning rusher after totaling 455 yards on 85 carries last year. In his first game as the primary ball carrier last season Alisa rushed for 91 yards on 16 attempts. He averages 5.4 yards per carry and 11.0 yards per reception coming out of the backfield.  Off the field, Alisa is always willing to help others and regularly seeks opportunities to serve in the community. He also spent two years as a missionary in Puerto Rico for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Alisa’s teammate Riley Nelson previously earned selection as a member of the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team®. The BYU quarterback was one of 11 nominees chosen to the 2010 team. 

You can read more about the Good Works Team here.

More Mendenhall on ESPN

As mentioned in this blog yesterday, BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall has been busy doing some ESPN interviews. Monday afternoon he appeared on ESPN SportsCenter as well as College Football Live. Today, ESPNU College Football released a podcast which headlined ESPN senior writer Ivan Maisel talking with Coach Mendenhall. They discussed, among other things, BYU's position as a football independent, the BYU-Utah rivalry and the emergence of Hoffman and quarterback Riley Nelson.

When asked by Maisel about some tough road games on the schedule, Mendenhall said, "We're not anxious to stay the same, we're anxious to grow, improve and measure ourselves and compete and win against some of the best (teams) in the country in some of the most unique settings. We're not taking a passive approach, we're taking an aggressive approach." 

Maisel and Mendenhall had a good-natured and candid conversation over the first 14 minutes of the podcast. You can listen to the podcast here.

Not a Mundane Monday

Jul 16, 2012 - Posted by Brett Pyne at 6:38 pm | Updated: July 16, 2012 7:06 pm | Permalink

Three Cougars named to preseason award watch lists

BYU seniors Braden Hansen and Uona Kaveinga along with junior Kyle Van Noy were each named to award watch lists on Monday recognizing the nation's best linemen and linebackers.

Hansen, a senior offensive guard, and Van Noy, a junior outside linebacker, were both named to the 43rd Annual Rotary Lombardi Award Official Watch List. The Rotary Lombardi Award is given to the nation’s top college lineman or linebacker each year.

Kaveinga was named to the 28th annual Butkus Award® Watch List recognizing the nation's top linebackers. 

Hansen has started all 39 games of his career for the Cougars, on pace to tie the BYU record of 52 consecutive starts. A product of Sandy, Utah, Hansen has helped BYU to 28 wins over the last three years and three straight bowl victories. Hansen was previously named to the Outland Trophy Watch List, recognizing the best interior linemen, for the second-consecutive season.

Van Noy led the Cougars in sacks (7.0) and tackles for loss (15.0) in 2011 to go along with his 68 total tackles. A 6-foot-3, 235-pounder from Reno, Nev., Van Noy was the only Division I player to record a statistic in each of the major defensive categories including tackle, tackle for loss, sack, quarterback hurry, pass breakup, interception, forced fumble, fumble recovery and blocked kick. Van Noy was also recently named to the Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch List for the nation’s best defensive player.

Kaveinga started all 13 games for BYU as a junior in 2011 after beginning his career at USC. The 5-foot-11, 236-pound native of Hawthorne, Calif., earned Phil Steele All-Independent Second Team honors last season while helping BYU achieve a 10-3 record and No. 25 final national ranking in the team’s first season as a football independent. 

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ESPN talks with Coach Mendenhall

In addition to the watch lists announcements, BYU football was also recognized Monday through some national interviews on ESPN. Head coach Bronco Mendenhall appeared live on SportsCenter talking with Michael Kim. He also was interviewed by Joe Tessitore on College Football Live. 

In addition to being on the flagship program for the Worldwide Leader in Sports and its daily program dedicated to college football, Mendenhall also did other interviews on Monday for upcoming ESPN shows, podcasts and stories. Mendenhall did most of his interviews via satellite from the state-of-the-art facilities at BYUtv. 

College Football Performance Awards Watch List - Offense and Defense

Jul 09, 2012 - Posted by Kenny Cox at 12:26 pm | Updated: July 9, 2012 12:37 pm | Permalink

Four BYU players were named to the College Football Performance Awards (CFPA) Offensive and Defensive Watch Lists released recently.

Wide receiver Cody Hoffman was named to the CFPA Wide Receiver Trophy Watch List while tight ends junior Austin Holt and Richard Wilson were both named to the Tight End Trophy Watch List. BYU was one of three schools with two tight ends named to the list.

Linebacker Kyle Van Noy was BYU's lone defensive player on a list, making the CFPA Linebacker Trophy Watch List.

Hoffman led BYU in all-purpose yards with 1,825 yards, the sixth-best mark in BYU history. He led BYU in all receiving categories, pulling down 61 receptions for 943 yards and 10 touchdowns. He was named to the 2011 Phil Steele All-Independent First Team and both the Yahoo! Sports and FBS All-Independent Teams. He was recently included on the Phil Steele Preseason All-Independent First Team for 2012.

Both Holt and Wilson were off to good starts in 2011 but each suffered knee injuries preventing them from finishing out the year. Holt was named the Phil Steele All-Independent Second Team after recording 11 receptions for 180 yards and Wilson caught 11 balls for 130 yards and one touchdown. The duo should be healthy for the start of 2012 season.

Van Noy was one of the leaders on a 2011 BYU defense ranked No. 13 in total defense and was named to the CFPA Linebacker Trophy Watch List. The Reno, Nev. product led BYU in tackles for loss and sacks with 15 and 7.5, respectively. He was second on the team with 68 total tackles and tied for the team lead with 3 interceptions. He also forced and recovered a fumble for a touchdown to win the game at Ole Miss in the season opener. He was the only Division I player to record a statistic in every major defensive category.

According to its website, the goal of College Football Performance Awards is to provide the most scientifically rigorous conferments in college football. Recipients are selected exclusively based upon objective scientific rankings of the extent to which individual players increase the overall effectiveness of their teams.

The Bronco Mendenhall Era broadcast photos

Jun 27, 2012 - Posted by Rachel Hawks at 4:23 pm | Updated: June 27, 2012 4:26 pm | Permalink

Check out these photos from The Bronco Mendenhall Era broadcast.

BYU Media Day--Brandon Doman

Jun 27, 2012 - Posted by Aaron Sorenson at 4:22 pm | Updated: June 27, 2012 4:30 pm | Permalink

Continuing on with our BYU coaches and players interviews, we were able to talk to offensive coordinator and former BYU quarterback Brandon Doman. Doman said he is constantly trying to learn and improve as a young coach.

"My former offensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers, Greg Knapp, he's now the ofensive coordinator for the Raiders. I loved him as a player and coach, he's been very successful and he's got a wealth of knowledge. I lean on him a lot ... I want to be mentored by the best. Sometimes you have to be a pest to get in with those guys and for them to eventually mentor you but I want to be around the very best of the best and learn from them and how they do it. I'm still a young guy, I've got a lot to learn."

He said the decision has already been made to have him calling plays from the press box as opposed to on the sidelines.

"I'm going to be in the press box, calling the game. We [the offensive coaching staff] are going to continue to improve the way we comunicate a little bit better. We have some things we need to change, develop and improve that way."

When asked how he would handle quarterback Riley Nelson or another player who may be frustrated or angry, Doman said he trusts his coaching staf to help out.

"Between Coach [Joe] DuPaix, who's played quarterback and Coach [Lance] Reynolds who has seen all the greats around here, if I need somebody to sit a guy down or calm someone down, those guys can do it."

Q&A with Michael Alisa and Eathyn Manumaleuna

Jun 27, 2012 - Posted by Mason Porter at 3:58 pm | Updated: June 27, 2012 4:09 pm | Permalink

Q: How has this offseason treated you?

Michael Alisa: I think this is the best offseason I've had in my life in terms of working out. It's been different, not just for me, but for the team as a whole. I think that's fueled me through workouts. Other than that I've been working at sports camps as a counselor. You get to stay at the dorms every night and eat at the Cannon Center for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I'm just eating like a runaway train trying to put on some weight for the season. Besides that I've just been dating around here and there. 

Q: What's the chemistry like on the team, do you have any best friends?

MA: Eathyn used to be one of my good buddies but then he got married and went MIA.

Eathyn Manumaleuna: I've got a new best friend now (laughs).

MA: But really, I don't feel like there are cliques. I feel like last year there were cliques on the team, but not this year.

EM: I feel like it's because we have more leadership on the team this year. Riley Nelson has helped a lot, he's brought a lot of leadership.

MA: Last year we had colonies, this year we have a strong central government (laughs).

Q: How does that leadership affect the team?

EM: We all love Riley Nelson. He brings a great atmosphere into the locker room. He's got great leadership qualities and we all love him. It even helps make us want to practice harder.

MA: We all come to practice excited to be with our guys and we work hard together. When you do that, it brings you closer together. So it's just a cycle.

Q: What are the biggest games on the schedule this season?

MA: Washington State is a big game. I've got my eyes on a few teams, though. Notre Dame, for one. Going into South Bend will be fun because of the atmosphere over there and it's a historic place to play. I've got some friends on that team too, so it'll be a friendly rivalry game.

Q: Do you enjoy playing on the road?

EM: I love playing on the road. When we went to Ole Miss last year, I felt like that was our home field.

MA: Texas was fun, too.

EM: I like to go to away games and try and make it our home field. It gives me a little chip on my shoulder and a little more motivation. I think it's really exciting to play on the road.

Q: What's it like to quiet a crowd on the road?

EM: It's the best. Last year, in Texas it was quiet most of the game.

MA: And you hear your own little fan section in one corner making noise, so it's fun.

Q: You lost some players from last year, how do you feel about that?

MA: We lost some guys in the O-line. Matt Reynolds and Terence Brown were really good players, but having Brock Stringham and Ryker Mathews step in ... those guys are legit. I'm just as excited about our O-line this year as I was last year. The main thing is keeping them healthy.

EM: On defense I think we only lost a few guys.

MA: Yeah, the D-line especially is going to be solid. You've got four guys who have started for three years. That's unheard of.

BYU Media Day---The Bronco Mendenhall Era

Jun 27, 2012 - Posted by Aaron Sorenson at 3:33 pm | Updated: June 27, 2012 3:41 pm | Permalink

The second live show on Media Day came right after lunch as BYUtv focused on head coach Bronco Mendenhall.

Six former BYU players--including John Beck, Curtis Brown, Vic So'oto, Max Hall, Dennis Pitta and Austin Collie--came to Provo to help host the second live program during BYU Media Day. BYUtv titled the show "The Bronco Mendenhall Era" as Mendenhall and the former players relived their favorite moments over the seven years of Mendhenhall's leadership.

Mendenhall began his career at BYU in 2003 as the defensive coordinator. After two years as the cordinator, he took over the head coaching job and is now one of the winningest coaches in the nation.

He said the winning didn't come immediately. When he began, he said he didn't know how to change things around other than working his players hard. Beck recognized and discussed Mendenhall's decision to help his team earn their postiion and really gain a desire to win and be the best they could.

Mendenhall also revered former coach LaVell Edwards by noting he thinks of Edwards, "just everyday." He asked how he could not acknowledge Edwards and all those great players who came before. Mendenhall said he sees his position as a steward of "LaVell's program."

Though the first panel of Beck, Brown and So'oto spent a lot of time joking around with each other, So'oto said his best memories of BYU came not from football but from the relationships he built during his time in Provo.

The second panel and newer generation of Hall, Collie and Pitta spent a lot of time talking about the wins against Utah and the great rivalry that has existed over the years. Pitta said the golden moment at his BYU career was in his senior year and the overtime win against Utah when Hall completed a pass to tight end Andrew George to seal the victory.

"It would be a shame to college football and to the state of Utah to get rid of the rivalry," Collie said of the recent talks of the BYU/Utah series possibly ending.

At the conclusion of the show, Mendenhall gave much of the credit to his former players who had the leadership, ability and confidence to influene an entire team. He said coaches can provide a steady influence but sometimes "you just gotta get out of their [the players'] way." He also said the four decades of success this footbal team has seen is largely due to the standard of the people who come in as players.

Getting to know Manase Tonga: Q & A

Jun 27, 2012 - Posted by Jamie Morris at 3:19 pm | Updated: June 27, 2012 3:24 pm | Permalink

Manase Tonga played running back at BYU from 2005-2009 and is currently playing for the Oakland Raiders.

Q: What have you been doing this summer?

A: I've been training this summer, trying to get my body 100 percent for training camp and to get ready for this upcoming season.

Q: How’s your life in the NFL?

A:  I can't complain. I'm grateful to have a job. I'm back in my hometown which is definitely a blessing. Like I said, I can't complain.

Q: With training camp coming up, do you get to see your family often?

A: For the first part of the summer, yes [i get to spend time with my family]. And then once we start getting into training camp and things like that, the time really gets cut down to the point where I only get to see them right before they go to bed. It's definitely hard.

Q: What’s the difference between training camp in college and the NFL?

A: Aside from everybody being freakishly athletic, it's almost the same. Basically, just like in college, we still have two-a-day practices. The only difference in the NFL is it's a month long instead of a week and a half. We're in it for the long haul and it's a longer season. For the most part, other guys' mentalities are to maintain their bodies to last throughout the season. They're very smart at how they practice.

Q: What are the main differences between college and the NFL?

A: The coaching. It is crazy. As an offensive player, we need to learn defenses. These defensive coordinators are very exotic with their looks, their packages and blitzes that they have. You have to be consistently on top of it. When it comes to game planning, you have to know their tendencies. Coaches at the next level are very exotic but they do a really good job. Offensively, the playbook is just insane, man. For instance, my rookie year, I had to kind of learn how to play football all over again. When you get to the NFL level, everyone is physically gifted. So what sets them apart is knowing their assignments, their technique, the mental part of the game. So trying to get to that level mentally in your preparation and all, is definitely very different.

Q: What do you think of BYU being independent?

A: Honestly I’m really jealous. I wish it would have been independent a long time ago just because the quality of teams that they’re playing. Me personally, I felt like my senior year was probably the funnest year because we got to play Oklahoma and we played Florida State. You know, we were playing these big name schools and now [they] get to do it on a year-to-year basis. This year [they have] a pretty tough schedule and I’m not going to lie, I’m a little jealous. I wish we would have played those kinds of teams when I was playing. I think we would have done really well. But hey, I’m just glad that BYU’s moving forward and I’m glad that the players are responding to the level of competition. They’re basically showing the world that we’re not far off and we can compete with the best of them.

Q: Anything you want to tell the fans?

A: I just want to say to the fans, keep being faithful and keep up the support. That’s what drives this whole team. We always rely on the Cougar faithful to keep us going and now that I’m a former player, I always want to come back in support and be a part of this program in any way I can. So it’s an exciting time to be a Cougar fan.

BYU Media Day--Marcus Matthews Interview

Jun 27, 2012 - Posted by Aaron Sorenson at 3:02 pm | Updated: June 27, 2012 4:06 pm | Permalink

As we continue our interviews with BYU coaches and players, BYU Athletic Communications talked to tight end Marcus Matthews about the upcoming 2012 season.

"Summer for me, I've been marreid for two months now. I went on my honeymoon to Hawaii and that's my vacation for the summer. I've been gone long enough,  now I want to be here [Provo], I want to be working out. My summer is just going to be football now. Now that school is over, I have nothing to focus on but football."

He said being married is great and he loves having someone to support him. He had this to say about meeting his wife:

"She saw me on someone's Facebook account and she thought I was cute so she added me as a friend. Once she added me, I said, 'Hey, we should hang out.' I got her number, we hung out the next day, and I've never hung out with anyone else ever since."

Matthews, an exercise science major, said he has been really focusing on improving his body to be a more effective player.

"For me personally, my goal this summer has been to gain weight and still maintain my speed and incease my strength. At the beginning of last year, I weighed 205. Right now I weigh about 235 and I'm just as fast as I was last year and I'm way stronger than I was back then. My goal is to be able to play as a more traditional tight end so I don't have to come out of the game so much due to certain packages. I don't want to limit myself and I know I can handle playing as a tight end."

I asked the junior tight end how he was able to gain all the extra weight.

"I've been working with our nutricionist for a while now. He's got me on a diet where I eat about 6,900 calories a day. I'm gaining good weight, I still have about 10 percent body fat. That's my summer, I eat all day."

We ended the conversation talking about football and what game he looks forward to the most this year.

"I'm looking forward to Washington State so we can go out there and show how dominant we can be and set the tone for the whole season. I'm really looking forward to opening the door and getting going."

Interview with Coach Nick Howell

Jun 27, 2012 - Posted by Mason Porter at 1:58 pm | Permalink

BYU secondary and special teams coach Nick Howell is entering his second year with the Cougars. After spending the offseason immersed in recruiting duties, Howell said he looks forward to a great year from his returning defensive backs.

"I think all of our players are looking to have some break-out years," he said. "Every year they just get smarter, more comfortable and just get better."

According to Howell, one player in particular, senior defensive back Preston Hadley, is prepared for a big year. "He played good for us last year, I think he had like 15 pass break-ups," Howell said.

In reference to his spring recruiting trips, Howell said they kept him busy. "In May we're never home," he said. "May is recruiting on the road for four weeks until the week after Memorial Day. Then our summer camps kick in, which is also a big recruiting tool. Recruiting never stops, there's no clock on recruiting."

Howell said June has been a month of game preparation and that next month will bring a welcome, albeit short, break for the coaches. "In July we take some time off before fall camp so we have some time with our family," he said. "Once August hits though, we're back at it."