Head coach Bronco Mendenhall post-practice comments

(Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

The following comments are from head coach Bronco Mendenhall's post-practice press briefing, including comments from quarterback Riley Nelson.

Head coach Bronco Mendenhall
On Taysom Hill:
Taysom got hurt third to the last play in our game against Utah State. He received a pretty clear signal from the sideline that means the clock is going. He interpreted it as run the play, that meaning run the play. He took the eyes away, victory was signaled then right after that he got hurt. Miscommunication. I’m responsible for anything that happens when one of our guys gets hurt. He’s out the remainder of the year.

Were you trying to kill the play?
Oh yeah. The victory signal went in as soon as his eyes went away. Everyone was yelling, “Victory! Victory! Victory!” but he didn’t hear it. It’s really unfortunate. Cleaner communication on our part needs to be done so it’s easier on him. It’s not his fault; it’s our fault.

On the upcoming "blackout":
I’m excited about it. I think the players are and hopefully the fans are. I’m sure some of them are hesitant because it breaks tradition. Hopefully they’ll just come and enjoy a great football game against a really good opponent.

Is Riley back 100 percent?
Hard to say, I didn’t watch him today. I was with the defense. I’ll see him through the week. I thought it was really close last week so I would assume by the time we get to Saturday, it will be.

Did you think Taysom was ok after post-game?
I didn’t think he was hurt at all. I didn’t think there was any issue.

Who will play if Riley can’t go?
James Lark is a really good player. He’s very persistent and dedicated and just waiting his chance. He’s a really good player.

On quarterback risk:
It’s not a sustainable model, especially when a quarterback carries it 19 times in a game. Especially when our quarterbacks run as hard as they do and aren’t really avoiding contact, they’re trying to get every yard possible. Either the carries lessen or we become more risk aversive at the end in sliding and dodging contact, etc. It’s hard to sustain the model when those kind of hits are being had.

Overall health of team:
I think it’s pretty good. I’m encouraged overall. There are always a couple key injuries here and there. I like where we are right now. I think we’re handling it ok.

When is Taysom’s surgery?
The surgery is possibly this week or early next week.

On mission age change:
It affects us more than any other program in the world. We have the most missionaries on our team and will continue to have that as an institution owned by the church. We had taken a guess a year ago and put a plan in place and so now we’ll kind of revisit that and make sure it’s on track. Then we’ll have to make some really unique decisions for two years in transitioning and hopefully the parents and young men will work with us and we’ll certainly work with them in terms of their desire to serve and when they serve and hopefully fill the team as that transition is going with scholarship numbers, etc. So, a ton of work ahead on that.

Once you get through that one, two-year transition, what is your take on the mission age change?
I like it. There isn’t a huge maturity level between a year. It gives them a chance to have a clean start right from high school to go out on a mission and then uninterrupted play when they get back, if they’re ready and if they want to. It’ll take us awhile to get to that point organizationally but we support that decision 100 percent and now it’s our job to make it all work in terms of football.

Plans on placement kicks:
Justin Sorensen will receive all the kicks this week. We’ll put increased emphasis on volume, on places the ball is kicked from, on how it’s held, on how it’s protected, maybe triple the number of snaps and hopefully try to improve it.

On Oregon State’s quarterback injury:
I only learned about it maybe an hour before we came out to practice. Who knows what the fallout is. You have a good offensive system in place that’s very consistent from year to year. How that will be tailored all of a sudden to a new quarterback I’m not certain. We’ll prepare for what we know and then adjust to what we don’t know or what we see on game day. That’s really the best we can do.

Quarterback Riley Nelson
On his health and playing this week:
I feel good. I’m excited to get back and play healthy and not have any limitations or any kind of pain or injury on my mind. It is going to be fun to play with a clear mind again.

On sitting out the last two games:
It has been hard but I needed it to get healthy. It was tough, I left that decision up to the coaches, obviously I played against Utah and Boise State. I told them if they needed me I was available but their decision was to rest me and it definitely worked wonders as far as healing me up.

On James Lark stepping in if necessary:
James is just as good of an athlete as us and can execute every play that Taysom and I executed so it wouldn’t skip a beat.

On injuries throughout the team this year:
Football is a brutal, violent game and it’s not for the faint of heart. We are rolling with the punches and come out every week to compete and look for a win.

On how close he was to playing vs. Utah State:
I practiced all the way up until Wednesday so I was that close, two days away. Coach Mendenhall decided to make the decision and I said I am going to do everything I can, allow me a day to put it on tape and they allowed me that and the decision was to start Taysom. So it worked out for us and we came away with a W and that’s the ultimate stat and only thing that matters. It was the right decision.

On any pain he has now:
It feels a lot better. Those two weeks, as much as I tried to push through it against Utah and Boise and all those things, I did nothing against Hawai’i and limited against Utah State really helped it. I hardly feel it at all.

On being ready for the upcoming game:
I’m good and full go. I am excited. We’ve got a top-10 opponent in our house on homecoming and it’s a great opportunity. We’re really excited; we had a lot of energy today at practice and guys executed pretty well today for the first day of a game plan.

On Taysom Hill's injury:
My heart goes out to him. First and foremost my prayers are with him. A season ending injury is tough, I’ve experienced those and they are frustrating and hard to get over. Second of all it is a big blow to our team. He’s a playmaker and one of our best offensive weapons. To have him go down leaves a hole in our offense so guys are going to just have to step up and fill it like they do every year.