(Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
The following comments are from head coach Bronco Mendenhall's post-practice press briefing, including comments from offensive coordinator Brandon Doman and quarterback Riley Nelson.
Who is the starting quarterback on Friday?
The starting quarterback is the same one that we’ve had. Riley is a little bit beat up still. It might take until the end of the week before we know if he can play or not. Nothing has changed in my mind.
Is Riley Nelson's health:
He’s tougher than any of us. Medical personnel work on him every day all week to get him to where he can play and it’s hard for him to make it through. But I believe in him and I’d like him to be our quarterback, so if he’s close to being able to go, we’ll play him. If he can’t go, he won’t play. That’s been similar the past couple weeks.
Is there any disappointed in the lack of turnovers the defense has caused?
Yeah. We emphasized it today. We need to take the ball away more.
What is Taysom Hill’s style of play?
The reason that Taysom is getting the majority of the snaps is it allows us to train, because he and Riley are similar in style, so it allows us to keep the game plan alive for Riley. And if he can’t, it’s not that big of jump to get to Taysom. By style, that’s how it’s working.
The offensive line problems, you chalk that up to growing problems or execution problems?
Both. I don’t think they’re executing cleanly and we expect more from them.
Do the offensive line problems have anything to do with the weight loss?
I think they play better because of that. I think they’re able to play longer and harder, which I have seen. But that aren’t playing cleaner yet. I would attribute a couple of the defenses they’ve played; they did a nice job against us.
Do you think a healthy quarterback would have given you a better chance to win the last two games than playing Riley Nelson?
I don’t or I would have played someone else.
Who takes the spot of Eathyn Manumaleuna?
Ezekiel Ansah takes his spot. Bronson Kaufusi and Remington Peck are the two backups.
What problems does Norm Chow create?
I’m not sure what other problems it poses other than he’s an experienced and well thought of offensive coordinator. He has a good plan, week-in and week-out, a good system and a good style. So I’m sure he’ll have a nice plan against us.
You had the worst passing game against Boise State, what caused that?
When there is a day that poor, it’s multi-faceted. Protection is certainly is an issue, receivers not getting open is certainly an issue and then maybe a quarterback being off that day. So anytime you end up with a number that is maybe the lowest in seven or eight years it can’t just be one thing it’s usually multiple things.
What reaction did you get in the community for going for two?
No one mentioned it to be honest. I was working the door at the temple dedication. I was a greeter so you’d think that’d be a great opportunity but no one mentioned a thing about it. Our team hasn’t. Our coaches haven’t. My wife hasn’t. My relatives, friends haven’t. So you guys are the first. I would do it again.
If Riley does play Friday, are you going to have a quicker trigger pulling him?
I’ll have a lot better assessment of what the signs are. He has a more open line of communication with me now that he knows what the signs are. It was a learning process.
What is Riley’s role if he can’t go in terms of being a mentor to Taysom?
Just like he did last Thursday night. If you watched him closely, he was Taysom’s biggest fan and was helping our team. It was exactly what you’d want from a leader.
Offensive Coordinator/QB Coach Brandon Doman
What do you do to get over the hump and make a few more plays with this offense?
I think everyone knows we can’t keep turning the football over. When you start adding up the mistakes I am not sure we qualified for those two wins. Even though there was maybe a fingernail away from knocking the ball down and a goalpost away from the wins, its encouraging that they are going to fight and finish but we can’t stop making the mistakes that we’ve been making particularly in the pass game. It’s causing us some turnovers that are costly right now.
On asking for more from the offense:
I am the leader and I am the master of the design and I think you are perfectly designed to get the results that you get. The results that we are getting are not what we want so we’ve got to change the design a little bit. I’ve got to ask these guys more and ask more out of them in the way that they practice and holding themselves accountable. Our staff has to be better and we’ve got to coach these guys better so we can eliminate the mistakes that we are making.
On what needs to change with the offense:
We’re not executing the pass game very well. That’s our identity; at least that’s what I’d like it to be. I’d like defenses to feel threatened to defend the pass game while we are complimenting it with a great run game. We’ve been inefficient in completions, which has caused us to be in third and longs, which are difficult. It’s a combination of excuses and explanations that really don’t matter at this point. We’ve got to find a way to execute what we need to execute inside of what we are doing. If we need to simplify more and more we’ll just continue to simplify so we can execute the scheme. Right now, these last two games, for whatever reason we haven’t done that.
Quarterback Riley Nelson
On how much injury has limited him:
It is interesting playing with a little bit of an injury. It affects you physically but also mentally. For example there were a few throws that psychologically I didn’t have as much confidence in because I could feel the injury. I’d be lying if I said there was no affect. So it did a little bit but that is no excuse. If the coaches put trust in me to put me on the field I need to be able to perform at the highest level. I wasn’t able to do that and Taysom came in and did a good job and put us in an opportunity to win going for two at the end.
On whether or not he will be healthy enough to play vs. Hawai’i:
I sure hope so. I am going to do all I can to work with our medical staff and manage reps in practice and everything with Coach Doman and Coach Mendenhall to be able to do so. It is my senior year and my opportunities are very few so I hope to take advantage of every one.
On still being involved in the game after coming out at Boise State:
I was voted as the captain by my teammates and it would be selfish of me to sit there and sulk and think inwardly. I was turning the ball over, I was not putting our team in a chance to win so the coaches made a change. There is one stat I care about and that’s wins and losses. I was doing everything I could, obviously I wasn’t on the field, but I was doing everything I could to help us win that game.
On the offensive struggles:
Executing. Really, it’s frustrating. One play it will be an offensive lineman, the next it will be the quarterback, the next play a wide receiver, the next play a running back. We can’t all seem to execute at the same time. That’s frustrating. They aren’t big huge mistakes they are just little things and most of the time mental lapses. We need to clean them really quick because our schedule doesn’t get any easier. We are at .500 right now we definitely don’t want to finish at .500.