(Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
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HEAD COACH BRONCO MENDENHALL
It’s good to be with you again. We had a lot of valuable lessons that we took from our last opponent, TCU. We believe it was the clearest indicator or barometer where this team is currently, and at what level we’re currently playing, as well as the work that remains ahead of us. Even though our record is one that is impressive this season, I think that game, in and of itself, showed the amount of work we need to do—and can do—in order to reach our goals. I think it was a gift to have had that opportunity to be humbled and to have a real chance to identify the areas in our program we need to improve. I am optimistic and excited about the future and anxious to be back home at LaVell Edwards Stadium against UNLV and I’m anxious to have five more weeks of football to improve our team. I think our staff, coaches and players are anxious to work with increased urgency, enthusiasm and specificity and so I’m anxious to get started.
Can you reiterate the team goals and how you can and cannot fulfill them now?
Our team goals are and have been for the last four years:
1. Be dominant at home—win at LaVell Edwards Stadium, which is still possible.
2. Win a Conference championship, which is still possible.
3. Go to a bowl game and win, which is still possible.
Our goals have not changed at all, nor has our identity, our program, our philosophy or our methodology. Maybe what’s changed is our urgency, how we play and where we currently stand; which again I think is the best thing that came out of the TCU game—a lot clearer idea of what level we’re playing at.
What’s the overall feeling of the team right now?
I think that number one, they are disappointed and number two, they are becoming more realistic. I think our football program in general learned a valuable lesson—that I tried to allude to many times—I believe the current attention was not only based on how we were playing this year, but the success of the previous two seasons.
First I think the disappointment that our football team feels is that they lost the football game, but secondly that they realize they need to improve quite a bit to reach the goals that we have just talked about. The reality that we’re coming to grips with now is that independence and doing things our own way isn’t nearly as effective as doing things in a systematic way. It takes a time-tested program and has to include all parts for us to win. This program wasn’t ever designed to have one side or one unit override the other—all parts have to work together. On Saturday we realized that we didn’t work well on any part. And when you don’t, the game’s outcome is what it was.
What are the areas that need the most work?
Our program philosophy has always been about position mastery, execution and a methodical approach. I don’t think we have ever been accused of being the flashiest team on either side of the ball, but the precision when we’re playing well is what is noticeable. Not necessarily athleticism or speed, but simply the methodical nature of doing exactly what we’re supposed to do at such a high level, that eventually we make more plays than our opponent. We do need to play within the system at a lot higher level, I believe, before our program can move forward—and that’s in all phases.
What do you believe the carry-over effects are after losing such a game?
The carryover is best described by the 1-2 or 1-3 starts in the previous years. Where if the team and the staff choose to leverage this as a real indicator of where we currently stand, then you can move forward. I think in both those years we won 10 games straight, and I don’t think it would’ve happened without that setback. I think if this team chooses to take it the correct way, this setback could be the catalyst to have a very strong finish. That is the best way to take it and it is my job as the head coach is to pose the choice and the options knowing the outcome and then the team and the coaching staff will make that choice and the outcome will be reflected.
What was the most surprising or disappointing part of Thursday’s game?
The most surprising part was our lack of consistency. When it came time to making a play at any critical moment, TCU’s execution was at a higher level than ours. That was the first time that happened to us in a long time—at least with myself as coach—and that is what was disappointing, to watch our team perform beneath the expectations that I had for them, or much below what I think their potential is. And that’s reflective of a coach, to get the most out of a given team in relation to their potential. What I realized is that we’re performing quite a bit under our potential, and that is my responsibility. That was the disappointing part.
What do you advise your players to do in the next five days?
I think we’re going to reflect on the game and realize that every one of us can do better. I think it’s a great chance if you’re honest with yourself. Which many of us still have outside influences telling us that it’ll be okay or that the first six games are who we are. But I think the last game is clearly who we are. I’d like to address brutal facts more than feeling good when it comes to the organization. The brutal facts are what I have asked the players to focus on, because once you acknowledge those, then you can start doing something about it. Identifying the truth is what I would encourage them to do.
JUNIOR QUARTERBACK MAX HALL
For the fans, for the team, what do you have to play for and where do you go from here?
We move on. We lost a football game, and plenty of people out there have lost football games. This one hurt and definitely affected where we stand, but we still have five games left and a lot to look forward to. I don’t think the conference championship is totally out of play. We just need to play our game and see what happens.
What was the morale of the team after the game?
It was down, it was sad. We got beat up pretty bad and got beat by a pretty good TCU football team. I am with Coach Mendenhall as he said that it let us know exactly where we are and what we need to do and that we’re not as good as we thought we were. We still have a lot of potential. We are a good football team, but there are some stuff that needs to change and some things that we need to do different. We still have some tough ones ahead of us.
What do you need to work on to accomplish your goals as a team?
I can speak for the offense, in that we need to execute better and be more consistent. We didn’t play our game, we didn’t move the ball down in big chunks and we didn’t play like we normally play. That had something to do with TCU playing us very well and stopping what we were trying to do, it also had to do with us getting a little flustered.
We’re a good football team, but we’re just not playing like it—especially for the last couple of games. It is my responsibility of being the quarterback to adjust and get the guys going and playing like we did at the beginning of the season.
In what areas do you feel you are not as good as you thought you were?
I think there are a few things that need to be fixed, for example, the way we move around on the field. We need to be sound in the basic stuff and go back to the foundation of who we are and play hard every play. We need to take a step back and work from there.
How can you get this loss out of your head?
I don’t like to lose, and I think this is the first time in my life that I have been flat-out beat and beat bad. I’ve lost games before, but at least we have come back or made it close or kept it close to the end—but we just bottom line got beat. I think this is the first time that this has ever happened to me in a football game, and I don’t want to lose again. We’ve got to work harder to make sure this doesn’t carry over on Saturday.