(Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)
The following comments are from BYU's post-practice interviews Monday, including comments from head coach Bronco Mendenhall and quarterback Riley Nelson.
Head coach Bronco Mendenhall
Were there any tough calls on personnel?
There was enough volume of work. You never know where your team is for sure until you play. We haven’t always been perfect in our choices as coaches but we’ve had so much volume that I think we have a really good idea.
Why are there so many “or’s” between one and two on the depth chart regarding the offensive line?
This is probably the most depth that we’ve ever had, and that’s a good thing. Not only at the one’s and two’s but the number of scout team scholarship players has never really happened before. It’s kind of reflective of the depth of the program.
Does this opener carry any more relevance than others in the past?
I don’t think so. Your first game is always one you’d love to win and play well in. I don’t see any more intrigue or anything else. This is just another good opponent in our opener. So that’s what we’re preparing for.
What concerns you the most as you’re going up against Coach Leach’s air-raid offense?
The number of times the ball goes in the air, the number of snaps that you have to defend, sometimes the tempo that you’re defending it and now the field is spread with really good athletes and a really experienced and successful coach at moving the football. I’m not sure where you could point to and say where he hasn’t had success offensively or struggled. I think they’ll be good even though it’s the first game.
How important is it to you that you don’t have a “cream-puff” traditionally to start the season, and you have a good opponent?
I think it’s important. We’re still looking for as much balance as we can get on the schedule but we also would like good opponents to come to Provo and play. More of them are willing to come earlier than later to play so that helps.
As far as the fan experience, how important is that to you?
I take it really seriously. I want them to fill our stadium because of the experience of not only watching the game, the game day experience, but also why we’re playing the game. We continue to try to make LaVell Edwards Stadium a fantastic experience. Now there are brand new scoreboards and a new tailgating section open up at the Marriott Center. We’re trying to do everything we can. It’s progress.
What does it mean to you to be on the opening day of college football?
I don’t think it’s random. I don’t think it’s by accident. I don’t think they had a blind folded executive at ESPN that threw a dart at the 123 teams and happened to hit BYU. I think it was well thought out and planned and that’s an honor.
Senior QB Riley Nelson
Do you feel you’re ready for Thursday?
We’ve got two more days of preparation and we’re going to take full advantage of those. We’re excited; it’s gong to be a fun game on Thursday night.
What do you think your emotions will be Thursday night?
Hopefully I can just stay calm and within myself and not make it any bigger than it is. I recognize that it’s my senior year and home opener and our first game of the year against a Pac-12 opponent. But if I can just stay calm that will give me the best chance to play well. I’m best when I’m cool, calm and collected.
Is this game any more important Thursday with your opponent being from the Pac-12?
Coach Mendenhall would have us approach it as just another game. That’s what it is. We’re focusing on what we can do. Obviously we respect our opponent and are studying them and preparing the best we can for them. Go out there focus on what we can do and execute.