(Photo by Jonathan Hardy/BYU Photo)
The following are comments from head coach Bronco Mendenhall's post-practice press briefing, along with comments from BYU's three captains, quarterback Riley Nelson, linebacker Brandon Ogletree and running back David Foote.
How would you describe the BYU-Utah rivalry?
I don’t really know how to describe it. It’s certainly still a rivalry still but there are different conferences now and the game is played earlier in the year but I still think the game matters but there is a different feel to it, but I can’t describe it.
What’s the effect of last year’s game on you?
There were so many games we played after that and so many chances to correct different things that we thought needed to be fixed after that day. In fact, we watched it today and I could hardly remember it to be honest. I remembered three or four of the plays that worked against us but I had forgotten about all of the turnovers and all the different things that had happened. Even after a win like Saturday, the thoughts of a coach are already onto the next week so past lessons are learned and moved on from.
How much better is this team or are they similar than past teams?
I think we have a good start. I can’t gauge how Utah is to how they’ve been before. I like our team to this point.
On Utah's defense:
I think they’re talented and big and physical. When you look statistically, both defenses are playing really well so it’ll be interested to see how that shakes out.
How important is it do establish the run game against Utah?
I think it’ll be important for both sides. Knowing that turnovers have so much of these games, if you can run it there is less of a risk than if you throw it. I think both teams will work hard to establish a run game.
On BYU being ranked No. 25:
If I could give my option, I don’t think there should be rankings until after Week seven, then everyone would have an idea of who is good and who isn’t. The rest of it, until then, it doesn’t hold much weight. I haven’t mentioned it to our team and I don’t intend to nor do I think it’s a giant thing.
Both you and Kyle were asked to tone down the hostility, do you think it happened last year and do you think it is this year?
So far, this year, I think this year is a step in the right direction. I thought last year was closer. Certainly the nature of the game last year, because it wasn’t nearly as competitive, I think that had something to do with it as well. It seems more like it’s about actually playing the game then all this stuff that leads up to it or before it or after it. That’s better.
On the news of Jordan Wynn out at Utah:
I feel for Jordan Wynn. He’s battled and come back, battled and come back, battled and come back. It’s hard. I’m sure that’s hard for him.
On watching the Utah-Utah State game:
It was a fun game to watch. I didn’t watch it live. After the fireside that we did the night before the game, I got back and there were five-ish minutes left and I saw that part with our team. Both teams tried hard. Utah State started strong, and then believed they could win the longer it went. They were in position to win. It was fun to watch their excitement. To have two field goals chances right at the end, and then overtime in the end. It was a great in-state game, and we’ve had our share of those.
On the importance of ball security:
We win if we hold onto the ball. We lose if we don’t. It really is that cut and dry. Hopefully we hold onto the ball.
Senior QB Riley Nelson
On Jordan Wynn being out at Utah with injury:
My heart goes out to him. I know he’s a high-character guy and I know he’ll make the most of his time spent at Utah and go on to have a successful life.
On the atmosphere for the Utah game:
It’s going to be a lot like Friday night. The stadium will be rocking. The players will be amped and juiced and ready to go. It is big and a big game but we can’t make it bigger than it is. Mentally, we can’t get into the state of being tight and doing things uncharacteristic. That’s going to be the challenge for us to stay cool, calm and collected and play our game in a hostile environment.
On the offense:
We hope, as an offense, to take care of the ball. We trust our defense to make plays and if we can take care of the ball and put together drives, I feel it’ll put us in a position to win the game.
On the team's preparation after last year:
In preparation of this game, we’re watching film from last year. Guys see it and it leaves a bad taste in their mouths. Not so much as an emotional motivator, but from a learning standpoint. We made these, these and these mistakes, now let’s not make them again. If we can do that, we’ll put ourselves in a good position.
Senior LB Brandon Ogletree
How does it make your preparation as a defense change whether John Hayes or Travis Wilson is playing?
It’s not any different for us. They didn’t really change their offense when the two quarterbacks came into the game that we could tell so our preparation is going to remain the same no matter who plays.
What challenges does Utah’s offense present?
Historically, they’ve all run the ball really well. They’re a power run team. They have good offensive lineman. A good fullback, good tight ends and a good runner, No. 15. We respect him a lot, he’s fast, he’s dynamic, he can run, he can catch, he can pretty much do it all. Obviously, we’ll be really focused on limiting him and what he can do.
What’s the feeling you get running into Utah's stadium?
I love it. I love their atmosphere. I love their fans. I love how hostile it is when we go up there. It definitely gets your blood pumping. It’s a lot of fun. I like when we go play up there.
Senior RB David Foote
On how good the team is to this point:
I think it’s going to be a great game. Utah is a great team and historically, they’ve been really good as well. I don’t think we’re too focused on how good we are outside it’s just doing what we do and execution. If we execute and be confident in what we’re doing and have our assignments down, we’re a very good team. We just have to take that approach one week at a time.
On the rivalry:
My first opportunity to play in it was up at Utah two years ago. It was a great football atmosphere. It’s intense, emotions are high. We just need to go out there and be calm and play our game.