(Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
The following comments are from head coach Bronco Mendenhall's post-practice press briefing, including comments from linebacker Spencer Hadley, tight end Kaneakua Friel and quarterback Riley Nelson.
Head coach Bronco Mendenhall
On morale of the team:
I think they’re determined. They had a good practice and are resilient.
Are you going to start Riley Nelson on Saturday?
Yep. Exact same depth chart as last week.
On QB Riley Nelson’s health:
He’s going to be taken off the injury report and the trainer’s list. He’s kind of self-reliant at this point.
On defensive matchup:
I’m excited about it. I think Notre Dame is very good on defense. I’m anxious to have our defense perform as they did the first six weeks, not as they performed last week. That’s my main focus right now, to get them to perform like I know they’re capable of.
On challenge of playing two top 10 teams back-to-back:
It’s been good. I’ve learned a lot about our team. I’ve learned a lot about our program. I think the only way we’ll take the next step in our program is to play teams like this. On the road is great too. I’m anxious to see how we handle it.
On history of Notre Dame and playing in its stadium:
Once you’ve been there once, it’s a really neat place. But so much focus is just on the game now. I think once our players get there they’ll realize it’s a nice place, it’s a historic place to play, full of tradition but we just have to play.
On review of defensive effort vs. Oregon State:
In reviewing the film, it was all about our execution, our precision, our concentration. The plays were defendable. They executed their plays at a higher level, but we were not sharp in the secondary. Concentration. Precision. And really execution. There was maybe a little overconfidence, defensively, from all the accolades. I think there was a little edge that was missing.
On pass defense vs. Oregon State:
We dropped eight the majority of the time, so there was plenty of help. They just didn’t do their job correctly.
On Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o:
We wanted Manti. We thought he was an excellent player. It was a heavy recruiting race. He had an official visit, saw everything that we had to offer, and really didn’t want BYU. Certainly our evaluation as a player was right; he’s very good.
On if Notre Dame looks top 5:
Hard to say, but they’re good. Any time a team wins every game they play, gotta give them credit for that. Both the last two teams deserve credit.
LB Spencer Hadley
On Notre Dame being one of the most historic programs in college football:
It’s cool. I don’t really get sucked into the hype of it all. It’ll be fun to go to South Bend and play there. Fans get to approach it that way but as players we don’t really get to look at it like that. It’s a business trip. It’s not like we’re going to Disneyland. We’re going to play a football game and we’re preparing as such. As far as it being historic, I don’t get into it so much.
On task of facing a really good football team in No. 5 Notre Dame:
It’s just like you said, we have a great team ahead of us. It’ll be quite the challenge. They do a lot of things well. We’re excited about the opportunity of playing such a team.
Playing a top-5 team, do you feel you have a chance to change the perception of your season?
Sure, especially after last week. As a defense we want to make sure that everybody knows that wasn’t us. We watched the film today and it was insightful. We’re anxious to go out and play a quality team and show what we’re about.
TE Kaneakua Friel
I think today we focused a lot the errors we made. Especially myself, I feel like I made a lot of errors this past week. Looking back I have to find out what was wrong and figure out how I can correct those mistakes from the previous game. Other than that, I don’t think it’s going to be different this week than any other week. We’re going to look at their film, look at some tendencies they have, but most importantly focus on our new plays and hopefully execute them well.
On history of Notre Dame:
I think it just makes it for a nice game. We’re going to a stadium we’ve never been to. They have a lot of tradition kind of like we have traditions here at BYU. It’s just another game against a good team with good players. I played against Manti Te’o in high school. He’s a great player, he runs to the ball and he’s physical. We have to prepare for that.
Quarterback Riley Nelson
On opportunity to bounce back vs. Notre Dame:
No doubt. Again, just like our game was last week, it’s a great team in a great venue. Hopefully we can put a whole game together, offense, defense, special teams, take care of the football, control field positions and do all those things. We’ve done those in spurts but it hasn’t been good enough.
On playing in South Bend
I never grew up really a Notre Dame fan or anything like that. It’s going to be a big noisy stadium and they are No. 5 in the country. Other than that I don’t know much about it.
Is it good to go on the road sometimes?
I don’t know, Coach Mendenhall does such a good job keeping us focused. I don’t think whether its home or away matters much. We just have to focus on our assignments, execute for all four quarters. If we do that we’ll have a chance to win the game at the end.
Are you excited playing against a top defense and against linebacker Manti Te’o?
No question. He’s a great player and the heart and soul of that defense. We always have to know where he is and they have a couple of others, No. 7 and No. 9 on their defensive line are good players and their secondary is very good as well; they are no slouches by any means. We relish the opportunity and are excited to go out there and see how we measure up.