(Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
HEAD COACH BRONCO MENDENHALL
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We’re anxious to come back home and play. From this point on we are in the heart of schedule with only conference games remaining and with our primary goals at stake. Just as a reminder to the outside world, we consider how we play at home first and foremost of importance. Second are conference championships and anything that happens after that in terms of national prominence is third. We will continue to measure ourselves against our own standards and that is what our own potential is and what our own capabilities are. We look forward to playing against a familiar face with Coach Long and the Lobos.
Of the time that you have had to study New Mexico, can you give us a shake down on their quarterback and how they run their offense, and also their defense?
They have shaped things to his talent. You are talking about a very different philosophy from Donovan Porterie to Brad Gruner. I haven’t been able to look at the new quarterback enough to really know all the direction they are taking with him. What I do know is when you consider a team that rushing the ball for 200 yards a game, there is a stabilizing force with a physical type of play that coach Long always emphasizes. I think that might be a more significant part, making sure you acknowledge the physical nature of how they play and Rodney Ferguson. The rest of it comes after that.
Defensively, they are still playing New Mexico defense and that is a lot of pressure, sometimes with six defensive backs rather than 3-3-5. Coach Long always utilizes the best 11 players so you will see a team that will play long, hard, fast and physical. They won’t quit.
You had 12 penalties against the Aggies last week, can you talk about that?
There are a lot of lessons that our team is learning each and every week. In this past game, as the end of the game continued to become chaotic, at a frenzied pace and very loud and noisy, and with some poise a maturity lost along the way was the situation specifically that I was disappointed in. As I have said many times before, I don’t see a correlation at least a statistical correlation between penalties and wins and losses. As a few weeks ago, ourselves, TCU and Utah were in the bottom of the league in penalties. Some of that comes with aggressive play. I don’t condone it, but I would rather be holding our players back then having them play too cautious.
Going back to your question what I did see is that we need to handle adversity, chaos and mayhem that happens when things don’t go right and play with execution within the whistles rather than lack of clean play outside the whistles. That is what I was disappointed in.
With Michael Reed coming back is there less of a concern with Max Hall focusing too much on Austin Collie or Dennis Pitta?
I think so. Anytime you lose a key player on offense, defense or special teams there is an adaptation period that comes after that. What is really a compliment to Mike is that he had stabilization to our offense. He is so clutch in critical situations catching the ball and in practice. Rather than the focus be only on one side of the ball, at least on the perimeter, you have confidence on both edges. I think we’ve seen the past few weeks the impact he has had on our program and I am anxious to have him back.
With this week being homecoming, can you talk a little bit about separating the players from the festivities?
With what I have recently had to try to separate our players from, I don’t think homecoming will measure up to it. It doesn’t mean that it isn’t important and I am anxious for the former players to come back. We’ve been facing a lot on unique challenges in terms of exposure and challenges from the outside, so I really don’t acknowledge it.
You guys are now a top-10 team, but would you say that you are content with the program and the performance against Utah State?
Far from it. When you consider we measure ourselves against our potential and capability I don’t think we executed especially offensively from beginning to end like we are capable of. A lot of blue zone offense was missed and I give Utah State credit for how physical hard and emotional they played. Defensively for three quarters they played well. I don’t think they played well to the end. So overall it was still a significant win in a very unique and difficult environment, but in terms of meeting expectations our players know that didn’t happen.
JUNIOR QUARTERBACK MAX HALL
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How happy are you to see Michael Reed on the field?
Very happy. Mike is ready to go. After the game he said, “I can’t wait to get back on the field with you guys and get playing again.” He ran routes a little bit last week and caught some balls and looked good. From what I know he is 100 percent ready to go and I am ready have him back.
After having a couple days to process it, how do you feel about your performance against Utah State?
It was a win. I think we did a lot of good things. There were a couple of decisions that I made that I can learn from, maybe I wish I could take it back and I take that on me. This might sound weird but it felt good to throw a couple of interceptions and kind of go back to the drawing board and bring me down a bit. The expectation of play around here is so high that sometimes you are going to make mistakes. It’s good to learn from those and process those. I’m looking forward to getting back here, watching film and getting ready for New Mexico.
Last year New Mexico came at you pretty good and hit you pretty hard, what are your thoughts about preparing for that kind of defense again?
I’ve watched some film on them and I am excited to play these guys. I think the stuff that we have and where our offense is right now, there is potential for us to have a big game. There are going to be tough, they are going to blitz, they’re going to mix up coverages and they are very good at doing that. Coach Long does a very good job with that defense. I’m excited to play them, I think we match up well against them and it is going to be a fun game.
You guys are usually pretty good inside the 20, but you struggled to reach the end zone can you give us a break down about that?
It just comes down to execution when you get down to the blue zone. No missed assignment, no missed reads, dropped balls. I felt like there was one play where I thought there should have been a pass interference call but there wasn’t. Things just didn’t go the way they normally do for us in the blue zone. That is on my as the quarterback. I’ve got to make sure we’re prepared to get the ball in because we’re deadly when we get to the blue zone. Again it just comes down to execution. We pride ourselves on getting in the end zone when we’re down there and we just need to go back, look at it and learn from it. We need to continue playing down there like we have in the past.