On Wednesday, Aug. 29, BYU head coach Gary Crowton and Nevada head coach Chris Tormey addressed local media at the Tucanos BYU Coaches Luncheon in Provo. Following is selected dialogue from both question-and-answer sessions.
NEVADA HEAD COACH CHRIS TORMEY:
Q: Is preparing for every aspect of their offense the biggest challenge you face this week?
A: Every week is a different challenge. Certainly this week the challenge is to recognize the formations and to get lined up. BYU gives you so many different formations. We would like to get to the point with our players by the end of the week where they can recognize the formation and line up and know their responsibilities.
Q: How quickly has Johnny Thomas (defensive tackle) come along?
A: He has come along well. We have been pleased with his explosion and effort. His conditioning level needs to improve, but he is a good football player.
Q: How has your new conditioning program worked out for you?
A: A year ago we were pathetically weak. I coached at Idaho before I came here and we were a lot stronger at Idaho every year that I was there than we were a year ago. Part of that is the fact we were so young and had so many freshman playing for us, many of them just out of high school. But a part of it was that the strength and conditioning program hadn't been as effective as it needed to be. We hired a strength and conditioning coach a year ago, named John Archer from Nebraska. He came in and instituted fundamentally what was the Nebraska strength and conditioning program and we have stayed with that. We are only one year into it, but we have already seen some dramatic gains.
Q: What is your impression specifically on Brandon Doman?
A: Brandon is a great athlete, you can see that he has the background in the option offense. He runs that very effectively. He is very tough. He doesn't mind contact. He appears to be a great leader. From what I can see, it looks like the players really rally around him and he makes a lot of plays. Coach Crowton has done a great job with him in focusing on his skills and abilities and allowing him to highlight his abilities.
Q: Is there any particular part of BYU's offense that makes everything else go?
A: The quarterback is the centerpiece and makes that offense go whether they are throwing it or running it. The threat of him as a runner really forces you to be conscious of what you are doing defensively.
Q: Can you tell us about David Neill, your starting quarterback?
A: Neill is a very good football player. He has done very well here. A year ago we weren't very good in the offensive line or really very good at wide receiver and we didn't run the ball very well. So we didn't support David very well a year ago. He has a good arm and a quick release. He runs well and he is very competitive.
Q: How much better do you hope to be with the run game?
A: Adrien Dugas is scheduled to start the game. He is our senior running back that was hurt in the Wyoming game last year. He is back now, he had a good off-season and we expect him to do well on Saturday.
Q: What was last season like as a learning experience?
A: It was very difficult, I have never been through anything like it in my coaching career. I guess I had higher expectations going into the season than what, in retrospect, was realistic. It was a very tough year for us but it is behind us. The thing I'm proudest of is that our kids never quit. They bounced back every week and they came out every Saturday and played hard.
BYU HEAD COACH GARY CROWTON:
Q: How important is it for you guys to have Luke Staley healthy this year?
A: Well, Luke is healthy. When he first came out of high school he had a knee injury and he spent most of his time working on the knee. Then when he got here, his knee was healthy, but your whole body suffers when you have an injury like that. This year, he came into the off-season with no major injuries so he spent the off-season developing his whole body. As the season starts, he's 100 percent. He's an important part and it's nice to have him and a guy like Brian McDonald-Ashford behind him who is also a very good player. So it gives you a nice one-two punch.
Q: What more can you do when you have three good tight ends?
A: With the three tight ends that we have, they're good in the pass game, they can block and they're intelligent so you can do a lot of things with them. It makes the window dressing of the offense very unique and you can do a lot of things with those guys. Hopefully, we'll be able to continue to do that the rest of the year.
Q: Has your staff made a conscious effort to keep the team focused after Saturday?
A: This is the case here. You don't ever want to get too confident because anything can happen. They're going to come up here, and it's their first game of the year. They've got brand new ideas and hopes of how their season is going to be. They're going to have a lot of fight in them. They're going to come up here and be very aggressive and they're going to try and steal this game. I think our players know that. I didn't feel like there was any emotional letdown in our meetings and our preparation.
Q: Even though they return most of their starters, many of their starters are underclassmen. Tell me a little bit about that.
A: Well, they are younger but even though they're young, they have experience. The experience of playing 11 games last year is very valuable. Even though they're not juniors or seniors, they are experienced and that to me is the key.
Q: How dangerous is a team that had miserable year last year in their first game of the next season?
A: I think they're going to be dangerous because they have something to prove. They have everybody back so they can all have a chance to see what went wrong. Their attitude right now is fresh and new. They have a lot to gain in this and very little to lose.
Q: Jernaro pretty much shut down Robinson last weekend, didn't he?
A: Jernaro did really well. The one touchdown that came, he was on the outside and I don't think he thought that was his man. That's why he was pausing there, he thought he had the other guy. Other than that, I thought he played real well.