(Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
The following is a partial transcript from head coach Bronco Mendenhall's weekly press conference.
I was pleased with the way our team played on Saturday I think we improved our consistency, I think we improved our execution. By how much, it’s hard to gauge. I do feel better about where our team was then a week ago. We have a difficult game coming up on a short week. Our team is looking forward to it as well as our coaching staff. We are anxious to return to Cowboys Stadium, anxious to play against TCU and a good football program. We are again looking forward to the challenge.
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Could you talk a little about your memories of the 2009 Oklahoma game in Cowboys Stadium?
I remember a couple of things. I’d never been on a bus that could drive under a stadium before, so that was unique. I remember the hug I got from my wife after the game. I remember a play by Jordan Pendleton on the goal line, knocking a ball down. I remember a catch by McKay Jacobson and hugging Brian Logan. That’s about all I remember from the game.
What was your reaction when the opportunity presented itself to play TCU at Cowboys Stadium?
It made a lot of sense. TCU is a program that I respect. It’s a program that has won a lot of football games. It’s a program that is a consistent not only top-20 but recently top-10 finisher. And a program that we we’ve matched up with in our conference. Eventually our program will have to, as it once did two years in a row, be able to compete and beat TCU or teams like that at a consistent level so we can move the program forward.
How do you balance the “just another week” mantra of trying to prepare for this game, versus the fact that it is against a team that has beaten you fairly consistently the last three years and is probably the best opponent you will face the rest of the season?
If it was any different than what I’ve been saying the past six years in terms of another week, then it would not have as much credibility, but our approach is so consistent that if I said anything different I think our players would wonder what was wrong with me. Our idea is each week is then next opportunity to get better. I’ve never focused on who the opponent is nor anything else besides our program, Improving our execution, improving how we play. That’s what I’ll tell them today. And if they’re expecting or hoping something different, then they’ll be disappointed.
TCU is known for its team speed. It’s been a problem the past few years and very different from what you faced last week versus Idaho State. How do you make that jump in preparing for that speed?
We’ve tried to liken it as much as we could to Texas, Ole Miss and Central Florida. Teams we thought were fast as well. Those games are in the past but just to say that we have faced fast teams. This offense’s approach is different. And it is difficult. We will put that message across to our players that the challenge is a difficult challenge. And it is done with fast players and physical players and so that is going to require a very high level of preparation.
Gary Patterson was pretty critical when BYU went independent. Did you expect to play them, not only again, but this soon? And can you describe your friendship and professional relationship with him over the last six years?
I have a friendship and a professional relationship. Whatever he said, I didn’t read it, nor do I care. Because I know what my relationship is like with him and that overrides it. So whatever was said that doesn’t bother me. I like the matchup and I like the game. I think it is a good football game that should have a lot of intrigue. Two teams with similar records and we’re anxious to see if we can improve against this opponent.
From what you’ve seen, how different is the TCU offense without Andy Dalton, a veteran quarterback?
It’s the same offense with just that, not a veteran quarterback, so they don’t do as much with him in terms of in the pass game, I would say. We already have put on this years film versus previous film, it’s the same offense.
What can you learn from a game like you played on Saturday against an opponent like Idaho state?
I learned more about our team in practice. That they want to get better and they want to improve and that showed from Monday’s practice through Friday’s walkthrough through even Saturday morning. They’re not satisfied and that’s a good sign. I’ve had other teams that it’s been more difficult to motivate them versus a 1AA opponent whenever we played them. That wasn’t the case with this team, because again the focus has been on us and it’s going to need to be even at a higher level this week because it’s a good opponent.
It’s important to be positive in the margin in turnovers, but in the last three loses to TCU you’re minus-7, the last three loses against Utah you’re minus-12, these are big numbers. What does it say about those particular games, the bigger the game the more sloppy than they are normally?
Not sure. Other than the emotion or the teams that we’re playing are more skilled at taking the ball away. It could be both; it could be a combination of either. What we do know is that it doesn’t lead to victory. My guess is in the games that we have beaten Utah, or we had beaten TCU, it would be the opposite.
How unusual is only having to punt three times in the last three games?
It is critical. Riley’s ability to create and get us out of bad plays with covered receivers and scramble for first downs helps keep momentum. Against a team like TCU that scores so many points and a team like TCU that we haven’t even averaged a touchdown against in three years, we need to hold onto the ball and score points.