Mendenhall Press Conference for the Deseret First Duel Versus Utah

BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)

The following is a partial transcript of BYU Head Coach Bronco Mendenhall's weekly press conference:

Good morning. After another victory versus New Mexico I think our team is still making progress. I think we have not reached our potential yet; I think there are plenty of areas still to improve. Our team knows that and certainly our coaching staff knows that and we’re anxious to play another game.

You’ve felt that the rivalry needs to be cleaned up a little bit; can you elaborate on that?

Yeah, not necessarily from a coaches’ or players’ standpoint, I just think the atmosphere the games are played in, at both LaVell Edwards Stadium and up at Rice-Eccles Stadium, it would be great if the fans would take on a stronger spirit of sportsmanship and be able to compete against one another but do it in a civil way. I think it certainly is possible and I think it’s desirable and would add a lot more class to the rivalry. Again, I’m speaking for both sides, not just one.

During this week do you have to bring the guys down a little bit or do you find your players are even keel this week even though it’s a rivalry game?

There’s so much work to do just to get ready to play any college game and to be prepared at a high level that the emotion part I don’t think really starts building and touching the players until they start waiting around in the hotel on Friday night. I think the players, coaches and entire state knows how much fun the game can be and what the anticipation is to play a BYU/Utah game. But again, they’re so busy during the week in terms of preparation that I don’t think the emotion hits them until maybe the day before.

In this rivalry, 11 of the past 13 games have been decided by seven points or less. What do you think creates this kind of environment in this game?

It’s hard to say. I’ve never really been a part of anything like it. It’s hard to describe even now in my sixth year as head coach. It just seems like it matters a lot to the coaches, the players, the players’ families and the fans. They hear that a lot, but they also inherit this tradition of these games being close. It’s almost like to do your part and honor your part in the rivalry you make sure it’s similar to what it has been before. It’s almost like claiming your place as worthy to be in the rivalry. You don’t want to be the team or the coach that has a lopsided game.

Teams have had a lot of success with throwing the ball against Utah. After seeing the film is there any reason why you’ve seen that happen?

I think there have been some quality opponents who have had good offensive days. Statistically Utah is very strong on defense. They’re not afraid to play man coverage and play it from press. Sometimes when you do that, even if you have good coverage, the ball gets caught downfield. I think besides looking at the yardage they’ve given up through the air, it has something to do with who they’ve lost to and possibly where and the quality of opponent.