(Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)
The following is a partial transcript from head coach Bronco Mendenhall's weekly press conference, including comments from offensive lineman Terence Brown, tight end Austin Holt, defensive back Corby Eason and safety Travis Uale.
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Good morning. I liked our effort, our determination and the resiliency of our team. We were making critical plays at the right times on both sides of the ball in the second half to secure a win using every bit of clock to do it. It was a fun environment in front of another sellout crowd and a lot of energy in the stadium. It was a great win for our team. Hopefully now we can carry that momentum, the heart and the way the team played into improving our execution into our game against San Jose State. I have seen three games on them so far and I have seen steady improvement. I think their identity is becoming clearer.
After meeting with the offensive staff what are your plans for quarterback this week?
I am not ready to name a starter yet and most likely won’t do so until the end of the week. Both quarterbacks were, I think, effective. Jake continues to grow and mature and I think he throws the ball extremely well. I think he is going to be a fantastic quarterback. When Riley came in, the analogy I used was it was like our game against Texas. You have to defend a completely different style of quarterback with mobility that has the quarterback run option and it took Utah State a while to adjust to that. How best we will use our quarterback remains to be seen. I probably won’t announce a starting quarterback until at least Thursday.
Are you worried that players seemed like they played harder with Riley and at the end of the game and not in the two and a half quarters before?
I don’t think they did play harder, nor did I see it on film. I think they were supportive of any player that was out there trying as hard as they could. The quarterback position, in the way Riley plays the position, you are talking about a guy who runs down on scout kickoff team in practice, I think that is just something they were excited for. We have two really good quarterbacks and have won a lot of games with Jake as well.
What have you seen from San Jose State so far?
I have only seen their offense so far. They have a really nice running back. I am very impressed with him, on offense he is who really jumps out at you. Like most teams, you hope to turn on the film and think that it is going to be an easy opponent but after watching San Jose State I don’t think that and our defensive staff doesn’t think that. They are very skilled and capable.
Do you see a two-quarterback system like last year developing?
I don’t think that it’s ideal. We saw that it was hard to get in a rhythm when alternating series. There is potential that when it is a game like Utah State that we think there is a quarterback change that can give us a lift might be a possibility. I wouldn’t see it going series-by-series, quarter-by-quarter or anything like that. We name a starter and go for a while and hopefully that’s working if not we make adjustments.
This will be your fourth-straight home game, have you ever had a stretch like that you can remember and is there any chance of fan fatigue?
After the last game I am still a little fatigued but I don’t know how everyone else feels. Saturday is a late game and I don’t know how that will affect it. I think we are gaining momentum and playing football each week. Our fans support us and they are seeing exciting games.
How do you feel about the late games like this week’s 8:15 game and Friday night games?
Part of the benefit of going independent was exposure. I’m not sure on the exact statistics but it is something like three times as many people saw our game against UCF on a Friday night than they did against Utah. Part of the reason for independence was for more people to see our team play. The change of game times and playing Friday nights, if there is more people watching and seeing BYU win then we will do it even if it is unconventional.
How far into the season before you really can look at a team and know whom they are?
It’s very difficult to say who is who. You don’t know much about the matchups. Probably not until game 10 do you really know.
How would you describe Riley Nelson?
He’s someone who has been told you can't do something his whole life. Either he is too short or not a typical quarterback or many other things. He started his career not highly recruited, went to Utah State and then transferred to BYU. He has even been told here and even I had the opinion he isn’t a prototypical BYU quarterback. I think he uses that as a motivator to have a very strong self-concept. He is just a football player and doesn’t consider himself only as a quarterback. He runs drills and covers punts and is more of a football player than a quarterback only. I think that is one of the things that is his strength. He is a fierce competitor that sees himself as a football player/quarterback than as a quarterback/football player.
Utah State’s running game was very good, any concerns with the defense there?
The two big plays were my biggest concern. I really liked the way the defense played in terms of the majority of the game. Obviously the opening play and a big play later in the game, that was a hundred and something yards on two plays. I love the way they responded after giving up the second big play and how they finished the game. I hate to see the big plays but Utah State is a very good offense.
After the game you talked about how you liked your team being battered and bruised and scratching for wins, is that the identity of this team?
It kind of looks that way so far. You have to sit the team down and say if we are going to win how are we going to do it? It might be coming from behind, reaching for the goal line, causing a quarterback to fumble, knocking down a “hail mary” pass or something like that. I love those kinds of teams.
OL Terence Brown
What was that win like for you?
For me personally after the game I thought we had fought hard and ended up on the winning side. I couldn’t say much, just go into the locker room and hug your teammates. I said thanks for fighting and it was a good coming together moment. I think we will build on it and it was special.
Are moments like that important for your team?
Oh yeah they definitely are. Utah State was a great opponent and those guys battled. They played just as hard as we did and we just made one more play than they did. Coach Mendenhall talks about that all the time. It’s four, five or six plays in a game that can determine the outcome.
TE Austin Holt
Did it feel good that a tight end finally caught a touchdown?
Oh yeah. I actually ran up to Coach Doman before the game and told him we needed to get this monkey off our back. It was kind of a picture-perfect ending the way Marcus Mathews caught that touchdown pass. To have that monkey off our back is totally going to help and get our offense moving.
The tight ends are playing better at this point than last year; did you guys just need experience?
Experience was a big thing but I think the confidence is the biggest aspect we have that we didn’t last year. We had no confidence and made a few plays last year we we’re okay. This year I think you can see what Coach Reynolds has done for us and helped make us better players. We have confidence in our players and ourselves.
DB Corby Eason
Do you like these close games and would rather have them be close?
I actually love the close games because I feel like we have to play a dominant four quarters. In a blowout you only have to play three quarters or something but in a close game it helps give us experience for when we have a tougher opponent. It helps us figure out what play we can execute the best and in what situation. It is going to help is later on.
S Travis Uale
How do you feel about the late game time?
We’ll take what we can get. It is a good opportunity to play on a Saturday after a couple of Friday games and get a little bit more preparation than we have the past few weeks. I might even take a nap Saturday morning.
How is Jake perceived on the team?
Oh I think Jake is just as respected as Riley is on the team. If you were to say anyone was liked more than the other I don’t think one is over the other. You see the name on back of the jersey but we all treat each other like brothers.
Who gives this team the best chance to win?
Whoever the coaches pick. We trust our coaches that they are going to make the right decisions and put us in the right situations to win a football game. The only quarterback that I am worried about right now is the San Jose State quarterback.