BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall (Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)
The following is a partial transcript of BYU Head Coach Bronco Mendenhall's weekly press conference:
Good morning. After another step forward in our program this season we’re anxious to continue to improve. We’re back home against the University of New Mexico and anxious to continue to push the tempo and improve our football team with two weeks remaining in the regular season.
Can you update us on Jordan Richardson?
Jordan Richardson has a torn ACL so he’s done for the season. Their weren’t any other injuries that were worsened or with any significance to mention. Jordan was replacing Romney Fuga, and now Eathyn Manumaleuna will be replacing Jordan. Jordan adds such a day-to-day consistency and work ethic and toughness and passion for BYU. We’re sad to see anybody have that kind of injury, but especially Jordan as he’s trying so hard. But Eathyn is experienced and will be effective at that position.
Can you describe what momentum does for a football team, both in practice and during games?
To capture momentum is the most significant job, and normally that takes a significant event. I don’t want to take credit, but tracing back to becoming more involved, rolling up my sleeves and trying to do something to help our team other than be the head coach, I think that signified that there would be change. The game is just the byproduct of practice. We’ve asked for a lot in practice. We’ve asked a lot out of our players in meetings and we’ve asked a lot of them in terms of investment in each other. It just so happens that the results have followed on the field. Now that that’s happened, there’s a culture that is becoming more embedded and producing some confidence and optimism that is coming with results.
Going out on and winning on the road turned out to not be a big deal. What do you attribute that to?
I think we’re a team that’s maturing. It didn’t affect our execution. I didn’t make a big deal about it to our team, only that it’s our next opportunity. We’ve been focusing on our execution and our team exclusively and that in and of itself, I think, took the sting off going somewhere else to play because our intent and focus was just so much on ourselves that it really wasn’t relevant who we are playing or where.
Can you talk about the contributions of the senior class as they head into their final home game?
Resilient would be the word I’d use. There have been plenty of reasons along the way, especially this season, for them to be weakened, or maybe dismayed, or discouraged. Yet they’ve continued. There are many in the senior class that aren’t the feature players, but they’ve provided the baseline behind the scenes through all the turmoil. They’ve just kept working and they’ve made it very clear how important the program is to them. I’m appreciative and would really like to play well in their last home game to give them a lasting memory of their senior season and their last game at BYU.
How much of the success you’re seeing now would’ve come without the early season struggles?
Hard to say. I’m not sure it would’ve been possible without the early season struggles. I am sure that it wouldn’t have mattered as much-the successes we’re having now-without the early season struggles. What I had shared with our coaches and our players is that if leadership is sound and doing a good job, any struggles you have should propel the program past where it could’ve been without them. So my hope is that those were an essential part, not enjoyable, but an essential part of where we are now.
Can you talk about New Mexico, both offensively and defensively?
From a New Mexico standpoint, I think they’re very sound in terms of their scheme defensively. They’ve happened to give up some big plays which have led to more points than to what they would’ve liked to have allowed. They are more of a base zone team, not much pressure in terms of man blitz or zone blitz, so they’ll be fairly conservative. From an offense perspective, they’re very mobile at quarterback and have a very nice tight end who can catch the ball well. They have a wide-open scheme with some very good athletes out there. They’ve struggled some times with penalties and ball security but have enough capability and enough weapons to show that they’re competent in any one given stretch.