(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 Jadon Wagner, defensive back Corby Eason and offensive lineman Terence Brown.
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I believe we had a really productive bye week. We had a great chance to assess a lot of our younger players. We had a great chance to heal and a great chance to do some quality work, ones vs. ones. We did a lot of work in self-scouting, finding what has worked for us offensively, worked for us on special teams and what has worked defensively and really hone in on those things to finish the year with.
On a sad note, Jordan Pendleton suffered an injury in the TCU game, a new injury to his knee that is season ending. He is seeing a specialist today and it has been a tough weekend for him and myself as we are dealing with him having played his last football game at BYU. After working so diligently to fight and come back and help us this season, we will keep him integrated as much as possible in terms of practice and maybe even help coach his position to keep him with us.
We are looking forward to channeling our efforts into our next opponent. We are glad to be at home again for the next two weeks and working now on the home stretch.
When did Jordan Pendleton come out of the TCU game?
I don’t think he did come out. That is the amazing thing, we don’t know which play it happened on and he doesn’t remember a specific hit. The next day it became very sore, not where his previous injury was but was off to the side. After doing some research it is fairly common for this current injury to happen in relation to the other injury and the surgery he had. He can’t remember a specific hit and there wasn’t a time he came out of the game in relation to that play. It manifested over night and showed up the next day.
As for his future career, does this impact it?
I certainly hope not. There might be questions from NFL scouts because of the timing and the rehab it will take, he might miss some of the training sessions, etc. but he has done enough on film. He is an NFL player.
How do you characterize his BYU career?
I think it shows a lot of determination and was very difficult. From his sophomore year being the highlight of health and production to then a real shift to just grit and determination and recovery. He has been instrumental in helping us play very good defense this year. His day-to-day example, when you hear him walking down the hallway you hear things clicking and popping, etc. He has fluids drained from his knee at least once a week and he keeps showing up to play so he has earned my respect and his teammates respect. He’s helped us win a lot of games and I would say it was a success, not ideal with injuries but he has learned a lot along the way.
Fans might say the team won’t be challenged in the upcoming home games, where do you challenge this program?
Any team we play is capable of beating us. I believe anywhere in Division I sports and on any given Saturday if you are not ready to play you can get beat. My focus isn’t really on opponents nor has it ever been in my philosophical perspective. We can improve as a football team. We have three weeks left to do it in the regular season and I would like to see significant jumps.
With independence and tough November scheduling, do you think this is the kind of schedule you can expect year after year?
I don’t. There are already changes that have manifested themselves next year and the year after and after. It is more difficult but it won’t be to where there are only teams from a single conference we finish with already in place. There will be more diversity and with the way college football is shifting and changing some of our existing contracts might change too. It is more difficult middle to late in the year but this is our first attempt.
What have you seen from Idaho so far?
Idaho has had a lot of close losses. It was fun to see them pull one out against San Jose State with a nice finish. They have three or four games where they just didn’t make enough plays. They are playing hard and physical.
About the landscape of college football, with reports about schools like Boise State and Air Force trying to convince BYU to follow them to the Big East, what is your relationship with them and are any reports true?
My relationship is strong with the head coaches. I really like Chris Petersen and Troy Calhoun and consider them friends. There is a push and there are conversations that are in place for the Big East to convince or to have BYU join that conference. I trust our athletic director and President Samuelson to deal with all of that. I have been informed along the way. At some point there will be a decision with what our intentions will be.
I don’t know how fast nor do I think a time frame is relevant at this point. Certainly there are plenty of questions on our part that are in place but with the landscape changing, the main benefit I can see on a short term scale would be inclusion to the BCS system. That is up in two years and whether the Big East can hold that spot with the new teams going in, my guess would be yes. I can’t speak as to what we are going to do other than just to verify we have been approached. I wasn’t involved in anything else.
Just to clarify, BYU has been approached by the Big East?
Yes. And really I can’t speak to the discussions any further than that is what happened. I have been informed but I wasn’t there.
Have you made any decisions regarding punters?
We are still having our punters alternate in practice. We kept a nice record through practice last week and will do the same this week. It wasn’t just punting it was the snaps as well. The first thing that happens on a punt is a perfect snap. Those have to be more consistent. We are working hard on it and we are addressing it probably more than any other special teams issue right now. There are a lot of good things happening on special teams as well. We have returned a punt for a touchdown, a kickoff for a touchdown and blocked a punt all in the same year.
Justin Sorensen’s touchbacks have declined on kickoffs, is there anything going on with him?
Not that I know of. He complains that his leg feels tired. I am not sure if it is overuse, we manage the number of kicks in practice to where it wouldn’t be. There is also a mission affect and that is tough to gauge what that is going to be. The easy answer to give would be the mission affect, whether that is the right answer or not I don’t know. He is a very good kicker and a skilled kicker but there has been a drop off. Maybe the week off will help.
Linebacker Jadon Wagner
How hard is it to lose Jordan Pendleton for the season?
I just found a couple of days ago. Coach texted me and it's just sad. I feel bad for him and he is a good friend. I feel bad for him personally and for the team, he is one of our leaders on defense and one of our main producers on defense.
What has to happen to fill the void he leaves?
Whether or not we have the players to step up and do the job, we've already seen that last year and the defense continued to play well. There are guys that will step up.
Defensive back Corby Eason
What have you seen form Idaho so far?
They have a pretty good team. They have athletes that can beat you. They have a good quarterback, good running back and good receivers. It is another opponent. We aren't to worried about what they can do but we are worrying about what we can do and how we can improve our team and our defense.
Offensive lineman Terence Brown
What can you tell us about Idaho's defense?
I think they are pretty good up front and they are talented. They play really hard, especially up front with their defensive lineman. I followed their game this weekend and I know they came back to beat San Jose State so they are pretty comparable to them and maybe a little bit better even. We are excited and it will be a good challenge for us.
With a bye week after a loss does that help you going forward?
I was pleased with how we played for the most part against TCU. There were some mistakes made but we are more encouraged than ever I think. We have a chance to play Idaho this week and put the pads on again. We are excited.