(Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
The following is a partial transcript from head coach Bronco Mendenhall's weekly press conference, including comments from linebacker Jameson Frazier and defensive back Joe Sampson.
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Good morning. I was encouraged and pleased by some of the improvement I saw from our team against Central Florida. Especially special teams, I thought that was the critical improved area in the game, not only in the way we punted the ball but the way we returned the football, along with a fake punt and our coverage unit. I think that really helped us in a game that was closely contested. I thought the defense played well again and the offense made some improvements. We have a difficult test again. This will be a great game in terms of an in-state rivalry. I have a lot of respect for Coach Gary Andersen. I love the way he is coaching his team and I think they are making progress. I am looking forward to it.
After reviewing the game film, do you still feel that Jake Heaps was as accurate as you originally thought?
I like the way he played. There are still some things we can improve. We can certainly improve on third-downs and accuracy there. I thought he stepped forward and was managing the game and I like the way he threw it.
Did you get a chance to see how the Utah State game ended last week?
I just finished watching it and what a heartbreaker. I thought Utah State played really hard and controlled the game. A few turnovers lost them the football game. I thought they were the more physical team that night. They controlled the tempo most of the night and it was a tough loss.
How do you prepare for Utah State’s running back Robert Turbin?
I think he is a great running back. In fact I was just telling our offensive staff I would love to coach him. He plays hard and runs physical, runs for power and doesn’t back down. He is fun to watch; I really think he is a great player.
How much does last year’s loss to Utah State carry over as motivation to this year’s matchup?
It’s hard to say. We have had so many changes and it was a pivotal point in the season where so many changes were made. It almost seems like five years ago so I’m not sure. The players might have a different perspective on that. I don’t, it just seems like a long time ago.
Can you assess why the offensive line hasn’t been as dominant as you would have expected?
I think they are doing a really nice job in pass protection, the only thing we aren’t doing as well is knocking opposing fronts off the ball and running for power. The combination of running backs running for more power and the offensive line coming up and blocking to create more push is something that is really a focus. We simplified the run game last week, I think we saw signs of that improving and we are just going to have to keep doing that.
How do you view this rivalry with Utah State?
I like it. I am for the in-state trio of BYU, Utah and Utah State playing each other every year. I think the idea historically of the beehive boot is something of meaning and value. It’s something I’d like to promote.
After re-watching the game, do you feel like the team is back on track?
I would say we are making progress. We certainly aren’t playing to our potential yet, which is the goal. It is my goal as a coach. It’s fun to see them win, see them smile and celebrate, and see them make the plays to accomplish that against what I and many other people thought is a good team against Central Florida.
What do you see from Utah State’s quarterback?
He is really athletic. For being as young as he is, he is able to create, very similar to UCF’s quarterback, just in a different body type. He is really tall, fast and throws it well. Dave Baldwin is a very good offensive coordinator so he uses him in a lot of diverse ways. They have a couple of really good running backs, a mobile quarterback in multiple formations that is fun to watch. I think they have recruited the type of athlete that allows them to be competitive which they are so far this year. They have lost a couple of really close games is all.
With a remarkable difference in special teams play last week, was there a lot of emphasis given to special teams in practice?
You work, you work, work, work and work. At some point the work accumulates to a point and it shows. That was the potential in that game.
Linebacker Jameson Frazier
How was your long weekend with no Saturday game?
Saturday morning was still devoted to football. We had a short lifting session and watched some film. The rest of the day I was able to hang out with my family and my wife. It was really nice to have that day that we don’t usually get.
How painful was the loss last year at Utah State?
It was really tough because I couldn’t even play. I had broken my thumb the week before. It was tough to see my guys battle through it knowing that I couldn’t do anything about it.
Is there any extra motivation after what happened last year?
There is a lot of guys that weren’t there last year playing. It’s tough to say whether or not it will motivate them. I am sure for some guys it will motivate them.
Defensive back Joe Sampson
If Utah State can knock off BYU it’s a big victory for them, how do you prepare for a team like that?
We prepare the same for them as any other team. We practice as hard as we can and the best way that we know of. We will just come out and play hard on Friday.
Utah State hasn’t won since 1978 in Provo, is there a pride factor for BYU to protect that streak?
I don’t really know, but we just have to go out and do our best. We know if we play our best we will be hard to beat.
Are you surprised by the success you have had individually, being able to step in and have a role immediately?
I believe that hard work pays off. I have been working a long time for this opportunity.