(Photo by BYU Photo/Jaren Wilkey)
The following comments are from head coach Bronco Mendenhall's Monday post-practice press briefing, including comments from sophomore quarterback Taysom Hill and senior defensive lineman Eathyn Manumaleuna.
Head coach Bronco Mendenhall:
Are you going to miss the rivalry after this year?
I’m not sure I’m going to miss it as much as our players will. I think part of the cool thing about being part of college football is being part of rivalry week and we don’t have the rivalry week anymore but we still have the game. I think a lot of the memories that college football players have come from big games, and this one is their big game. It’s a lot of fun and I feel bad that they’ll miss out on that.
With the seniors being 0-3 against Utah, does that add a sense of urgency to the game?
I would love to see them be successful. If there is a main motive for me this game, it is for me to see them have success. I care more about them than the rivalry and so I’d love to see them be happy, the way that they were last week after the Texas game.
What is the one of the important factors that will determine the outcome of the game?
It would be turnovers, that’s what is changing the outcome of the game. It’s pretty easy, when we are even or plus one we win and if we are in the negative category we don’t. There are other contributing factors and I credit Utah with playing well and creating turnovers, but that would be the most important thing.
Preparing for Travis Wilson:
It helps to have the familiarity with Taysom (Hill) as our quarterback. The offenses aren’t identical but there are some similarities. Taysom is one of the fastest players on our team and we know that if we can’t catch him, then we probably won’t be able to catch Utah’s quarterback. It gives us a great point of reference in practice to see what the angles are etc.
Sophomore quarterback Taysom Hill:
What are the emotions like going into the game this weekend?
It’s big, obviously it’s rivalry week. I think this year is a little different because we don’t play them for the next two years and this will be the last time that I have a chance to play them. So it’s big but at the same time, our preparation is the same. We’re preparing harder and we need to stick to what we do here at BYU. We will continue to do the things that we need to and continue to do those things well.
What challenges does Utah present to the offense?
I expect to see a lot of cover one and a lot of cover zero, and that they will load and stack the box. Our run game has been really good and at the same time, we have receivers that can win one-on-one. If that’s what it comes down to, I feel confident that we can catch the ball and move the ball.
Was there extra emphasis on the passing game in the bye week?
Yes there was. We started with a lot of 7-on-7 work with the receivers to make sure that we were all on the same page as well in the individual drills. There has been a lot of emphasis on that this week and we hope that it will pay off.
Senior defensive lineman Eathyn Manumaleuna:
What does the game mean this week?
It means a lot, especially for the team. One of our biggest goals is to win state and we know that this is a big challenge for us. It’s been a challenge for us for quite a few years. But we’re excited for this year’s game because we know that there is a lot at stake.
How important is it to keep this momentum going this year?
Texas was a big win and I don’t want our team to just settle with that. We have a lot of good teams on the schedule and this week is huge for us. We need to keep the things that we did well against Texas and fix the things that we didn’t do well. We’re working hard this week in practice to be prepared.
What do you think of the Utah offense, especially the offensive line?
They’re really big up front and you don’t want to get too engaged with them or they’ll hold you down. It’s always a battle against those guys.