(Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)
The following comments are from head coach Bronco Mendenhall's post-practice press briefing, including comments from sophomore quarterback Taysom Hill and senior linebacker Kyle Van Noy.
Head coach Bronco Mendenhall:
Announcement of captains:
We announced captains today. Our players elected Daniel Sorensen and Uani Unga on defense and on offense, JD Falslev and Skyler Ridley. I’m excited for all four of those young men. I think all are very unselfish and really committed to the team. Three of the four came to BYU as walkons, which says a lot about their work ethic and also their attitude toward the program. I think they’re all team-first and I think our team elected strong people and strong leaders.
On Monday’s practice:
Today’s practice was the equivalent of a Tuesday practice. It was very physical and fast and we got a lot of plays in. We had a lot of special teams emphasis and Justin Sorensen continues to kick the ball well. I think we’re deep at running back and I think we have plenty of receivers to throw the ball to. The depth chart will reflect a lot of and’s and or’s. I think when you play as many plays as we play, being a starter might be noticeable for a few plays but then it’s going to be a flurry of players coming in.
Do you feel stabilized at the cornerback position?
Right now that’s a good word for it. We’re thin but I like the way our guys are playing at that spot. Michael (Davis) and Robertson Daniel will be at field corner, and then at boundary corner, basically a combination of Skye PoVey, Dallin Leavitt and Mike Hague and so I think we have enough.
How many offensive linemen will travel and play?
I think we’ll travel 10 offensive linemen and there’s a great chance that more o-linemen will play than have ever played before. Normally we’ll go into seven players, maybe eight and I wouldn’t be surprised to see all 10 get some action.
Are you preparing the defense for players or coaches?
I would say coaches first. Steve Fairchild is the offensive coordinator and he was the head coach at Colorado State so there is some familiarity there. They also have a really mobile quarterback so there might be elements of what we do offensively mixed in. It’s hard to say, just like any season opener. I think it will go to who the coaches are first, then how the personnel will be used.
Does anyone stand out on film of Virginia?
Here’s the thing, I really haven’t studied much Virginia film because there isn’t any. We could watch film from last year but it’s a different system. I’m always hesitant to do that. So I'll watch a series or two just to get a quick idea of what a player might look like but I’ve been focusing more on us. In an opening game, I think that’s more important.
Sophomore quarterback Taysom Hill:
What are you expecting to see in Virginia?
A lot of cover one and a lot of cover zero. They like to bring blitzes on both sides. They like to apply pressure and that’s what we’re anticipating. We’ve got our backs picking up blitzes. We’ve got our line picking up their heads and making calls. So far, so good. We’ll continue to get better.
Do you like going up against aggressive defenses that are going to really come after you?
Yes, especially with the guys that we have on the outsides, our receivers. You put them one on one with anyone in the country and I trust those guys. They are going to win. I’ll put my money on them.
On the team’s view of the tough schedule:
Excitement. It gives up a lot of opportunity. I think it’s important that as a team we don’t get ahead of ourselves. This week we play Virginia and that’s where all our time and attention are. We’re going to take it one game at a time. We’re getting ready to go play and beat a good football team.
On the excitement of it finally being game week:
We’ve been practicing for so long but nothing came as a result of it. There is definitely that excitement. I think there’s that buzz on the football field. Today, everyone was going really hard. Everyone is really excited. I love the guys competing around me and they’re ready to go.
What do you think it says about the team that three of the four captains are former walk-ons?
When we vote for captains, we don’t think about whether they are walk-ons or not. I think the fact they were walk-ons showed that they worked hard and earned what they have. I think guys respect them because they weren’t just given scholarships. They came on, worked hard and had to earn it. I think that’s probably what shows in why they were elected as captains. They’re going to do a great job and will represent us well.
Senior linebacker Kyle Van Noy:
On playing Virginia on Saturday:
I haven’t gotten to the excited factor yet. I’ve been playing for a while. I get more excited when we’re on the plane. Right now I’m still grinding. We’re working really, really hard. It’s exciting to see the passion these younger guys, and veterans too, have and the time they are putting in. It’s still a work in progress but I’m very excited for the game.
What are you doing to prepare for Virginia?
We’re doing a lot of different things. We’re keying on the quarterback who is really good. They also have a couple outside guys that are really impressive, and their offensive line I think. We’re just trying to take one thing at a time, starting from the quarterback and down the line.
On any pressure the defense feels to be as good as last year:
I think pressure is what you make of it. Here at BYU the defense is held to a high standard. We know that going into every season. I don’t think it’s necessarily pressure. I think we like that and we want that. That’s kind of the attitude that we take going against offenses – that we’re the best in the country and we’re out to prove it.