(Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
The following comments are from head coach Bronco Mendenhall's post-practice press briefing, including comments from senior defensive back Preston Hadley.
Head coach Bronco Mendenhall
How did practice go today?
It went good. It seems like a long time already since we’ve played and its good to be back with our guys.
Did anything stand out from the bye week?
They are anxious to play already. That’s a good sign. It wasn’t hard to get them going. They were anxious to practice, anxious to get back to work and anxious to really finish strong.
How do you set the right balance between confidence but not have a let down?
We have a lot to improve on as a football program and as a team. Our focus again is on how much better we can get. We haven’t looked ahead much. We had a full day on Idaho today and we will worry about our next opponent after that. We have a lot to improve on so that is where my focus has been with our team.
Can you imagine being a head coach at 33 years old like Idaho’s interim head coach Jason Gesser?
No. I am not sure how old I was but 33 seems really young. It is a good way to learn and great responsibility and a neat opportunity. Man, I hope he enjoys it if he can.
Can you talk about the matchup with Idaho?
Idaho is a team that has struggled with consistency on both offense and defense. In stretches they show capability and then they have had issues turning over the football and maintaining a high level of execution from the beginning of a game to the end of the game. I think that has been there biggest challenge.
Any update on Braden Hansen coming back for this game?
I don’t know yet. Hopefully he will but probably too early to say for sure.
Can you talk about the strides the defense has made after Notre Dame to Georgia Tech?
I thought they played really hard at Notre Dame. There was one or two plays they didn’t make. Seventeen points is still a reasonable amount to have a great chance to win the game. Against Georgia Tech, that was one of the best defensive performances against the option I have ever seen or been part of. I was really proud of them. It is a fun group to be with every week. It matters a lot to them, they work really and and I have been lucky to coach them so far this year.
Does Jamaal Williams have the makings of a marquee running back for the future?
I would say from the early signs yes. He is still really young, just 17 years old and has a lot of work still to do. The way he runs the football, the confidence he runs it with, the physical nature he runs it with is really a nice start for a true freshman. I would say at this point yeah.
How was progress in recruiting over the last week?
We are in really good shape recruiting. We still have a few pieces to finish up with the offensive line issues that we have had. Our finding pool has been really good and we’ve made a lot of progress. I am really comfortable with where we sit right now. There are still a few pieces have to land or come in but it was a really productive week.
Bronson Kaufusi would like to play some basketball after football season is over, any early thoughts on that?
Not really any early thoughts, it’s really hard to be good at just one sport let alone two. I would say that just as a blanket statement. Very few guys are capable of playing two. It’s really premature to even consider it or talk about it. Maybe after the bowl game we can consider it.
What areas can the defense improve?
They have been really consistent all year long. I guess I would go to really the only team that had success against them was Oregon State. That would be max protection and really good receivers running through our zones. If there has been anything and really the only thing that’s worked so far that would probably be it. I think we have addressed that since then and that game seems like a long time ago but if I had to give you something that would be it.
The offense has made strides in the last few games, what has led to that?
Just more balance and consistency and being able to run the football and throw it with fewer turnovers is really helpful. I think that is really the core of what is happening is balance and consistency with fewer turnovers.
How was the bye week in regards to players’ health?
We focused hard on it. From what I saw today they looked fresh and ready to practice. I can’t say there was just a slew of players coming back in but the ones we had looked fresher and a little bit more healthy.
Anything special or things you’re looking forward to or planning with your seniors at the game?
It’s a little bit different format; normally I am able to be with them after the game. With an 8:15 p.m. start that is going to be really late. So we will honor them more pregame and then what I do with them after the game we will do at our banquet this year.
Is getting to No. 1 in total defense a realistic goal for this defense?
I think anything is realistic for them. They are proven to be capable in just about every category if you look statistically. I don’t spend a ton of time on that but I think they have really high goals and expectations and I wouldn’t put anything by them right now.
Can you talk about the maturation of Kyle Van Noy on and off the field?
It is a remarkable thing. He is absolutely honest and trustworthy. He makes mistakes like the rest of us but who he has become is something to be proud of. I have been and am lucky to work with him.
Van Noy came back from an injury during the offseason, was there any concern that he wouldn’t come back from that?
Kyle is one of the toughest players I have ever coached. No. 1, that injury happened in the TCU game and he didn’t tell anyone, not the trainers or me. Then he comes in after the season and says I think my shoulders hurt. It was a torn labrum against TCU. If you don’t ask him he’s not going to tell you and he loves to play and isn’t going to come of a game no matter how hurt he is. He’s really tough.
Defensive back Preston Hadley
Going into senior week is it something the coaches have addressed?
The coaches mentioned it. As is players I don’t think anything really needs to be said. It’s no secret that going into this last week its our last home game. Not much has really been said; we all get it already.
How do you set the right balance between being confident and not having a let down?
You have to treat it like every other opponent. Obviously we have an advantage but we still have some work we can do to improve to finish out the season and it starts this week. We are just trying to go out and have fun. This is our last game at LaVell Edwards Stadium. It doesn’t matter who you are playing against you just have to go out and play hard.
On getting bowl eligible:
Our sights are on a bowl game and we are expecting to go. We have to take it one game at a time.
Is there any thought of what might have been during this season?
There are times you stop and reflect on the season about how it has gone and things you’ve done well and things you wish you could change. That’s just life you cant change those things. Obviously we wish some of the games could have turned out differently just being one or two plays away. We are just going to keep looking forward. You can’t change the past all you can do is dictate what the future is.