(Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)
The following comments are from head coach Bronco Mendenhall's Monday post-practice press briefing; including comments from sophomore quarterback Taysom Hill and senior linebacker Spencer Hadley.
Head coach Bronco Mendenhall:
It was good to have a long weekend; the players had Saturday and Sunday off. They came back ready to work today and we're obviously a few days ahead with a couple early days of Wisconsin work last week. We look forward to playing this weekend.
Daniel Sorensen is good and practiced full speed today. Terrance Alletto has practiced and should be returning to play this week.
On Gary Andersen as a coach:
He is qualified (to get the Wisconsin job). He did a really nice job with Utah State and did a nice job as a coordinator at Utah. He deserved it and has done a nice job already with them. I think it is a little early to say where he has put his imprint there but obviously he has coached them to be tough and be physical. I see some things that he likes to do on defense and offensively they are very similar to what they did prior to them (new coaching staff) arriving.
Is the Wisconsin front one of the most physical fronts BYU has faced recently?
It’s hard to tell on film. It will only take a couple of series to know but they sure look good on film.
Can the defense impose a faster tempo on the Wisconsin offense?
They are pretty hard to have anything imposed on and they are slow and steady in terms of their tempo. They love to run the football and take as much time as possible and then like to throw the play-action pass and are pretty volatile that way. There’s really not much we can do to control their tempo other than if we are able to play well on third down and get off the field.
How will the defense fare against the running game of Wisconsin?
We’ll find out this weekend. I think they are rushing it for almost 300 yards a game, regardless of whom they play whether it is Iowa, Northwestern or Ohio State. That’s just who they are and so the number one thing that I care about is how many points we give up. If we can manage that well then we will have a chance to win.
Sophomore quarterback Taysom Hill:
How big of an impact will it be on the offense to not have JD Falslev?
JD is a big component of that slot receiver position, and he plays it really well, but we have a lot of different packages we can resort to. Obviously it's going to hurt to not have him, he's one of our captains, and anytime you lose somebody like that, it's going to hurt. We've made a few shifts and adjustments, and we'll be ready to go. Hopefully we get JD back in the next few weeks.
Did you do much self-scouting over the bye week and if so, what kind of things stuck out as things you can improve?
I didn't really do a lot of self-scouting. We watched film, we did a lot of breakdown from the Boise State game and saw areas we can get better on, but other than that, we've been watching Wisconsin. We're focusing on what we can do to go into a hostile environment and get a win. We just need to continue to execute at a high level. We made a few arrangements as far as having JD out, and having a bye week to do that has been helpful.
What have you noticed in terms of how defenses have played you differently over the last month and a half?
I feel like a lot of it is pretty similar, we've been getting a lot of man looks. They will make sure they have somebody that can cover me if I pull and run. Now, what we're running into, is teams don't know how to stop our guys on the outside because our guys are tall and not easy to defend. They try to play off the receivers, so we throw underneath routes. Then they press and we throw over the top. That's the battle we've seen so far. Basically it depends on the personnel that we're playing and how they try to stop us.
What kinds of opportunities come playing in Madison, Wisc?
Going to Wisconsin gives us an opportunity to make noise on the national level. They're ranked in the top 25; they are a well-known program throughout the country. It gives us an opportunity to go into a hostile environment and show what we can do against a very good opponent.
Senior wide receiver Skyler Ridley
Did you play as a returner in high school?
Yeah, in high school I caught punt returns and kickoff returns. It's a little different now, but I'm excited if my number gets called.
Do you anticipate moving over to the slot this week?
Yeah, I might. So will Terenn [Houk] and Eric [Thornton], who is supposed to be back this week. I'm going to bounce back and forth this week. I played slot in high school as well. It's a different game when you play inside, you have a few more people to look at. But I just want to do whatever I can to help us get a win this Saturday.
How tough was it to sit out the first half of the Boise State game?
It would have been a lot tougher if we weren't doing as well as we were. Obviously I would have loved to have been a part of the way we threw the ball around in the first half. It was tough. I was sitting up in the box, which was a totally different perspective for me, but I was excited to see our guys have success.
Senior linebacker Spencer Hadley:
How excited is the team to play a game against Wisconsin?
We’re excited as a team and as a defense especially. We’re excited to show what we can do and give the game our best shot.
How is the linebacker crew handling the loss of Austen Jorgensen?
I think we’re handling it well. Guys are just willing to sacrifice and play the position that they need to play. We’re all willing to do what we need to do. It’s difficult to see a guy like Austen go down. He’s fought so hard and for so long and it’s tough to see that happen. In the wake of the event, guys are handling it well and carrying themselves well.
What has the defense done to prepare for Wisconsin during the bye week?
It’s given us a chance to see what they do. It’s given us a chance to take a long look, a second look and a third look and so I think we have a really good scheme. I’m confident with what we are doing and we’ve had extra days to get ourselves in the right position and that’s is going to be key against these guys.