PROVO, Utah – After opening the season in dramatic fashion on the road, BYU football returns home to LaVell Edwards Stadium to take on No. 23 Boise State. Kickoff is scheduled for 8:15 p.m. MT and will be televised nationally on ESPN2. Live streaming is available through WatchESPN.
The game is BYU's home opener and the team will wear it's all-white uniform combination. Fans are encouraged to wear white to the game for the "whiteout."
Fans can tune in for live coverage on the Cougar IMG Sports Network with Greg Wrubell, which can be found on 1160 AM, 102.7 FM, BYUcougars.com and the BYU Cougars app. IMG's radio coverage will begin at 6 p.m. MT.
BYUtv will provide pregame and postgame coverage, with Countdown to Kickoff starting at 7 p.m. MT. Postgame coverage runs for half an hour after the game.
BYU (1-0) vs. No. 23 Boise State (1-0, 0-0 MW)
Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015
Official Kickoff: 8:21 p.m. MT
LaVell Edwards Stadium (64,470)
BITTERSWEET VICTORY. BYU is coming off a last-second win from a Hail Mary pass from Tanner Mangum to Mitch Mathews to stun Nebraska 33-28. Unfortunately Mangum had entered the game for an injured Taysom Hill who is likely out for the season after just one game.
WHITEOUT. BYU will wear its white-on-white uniform combination for just the second time at home. The Cougars defeated Virginia 41-33 in the all-whites.
HOME COOKIN’. In home openers, BYU is 7-3 under Coach Mendenhall and BYU is 57-32-1 overall.
WHAT’S NEXT? After a season opening win, the Cougars are 4-3 in game two and 7-3 overall in game two of the season under Mendenhall.
BRONCO vs. BRONCOS. Head coach Bronco Mendenhall is facing Boise State for the fourth time as a head coach. The Cougars have gone 1-2 vs. the Broncos under Mendenhall. BYU dropped a 7-6 defensive game in Boise in 2012 and then BYU won in Provo in 2013 with a 37-20 victory. Last year Boise State won 55-30.
FRESHMAN QUARTERBACKS. Tanner Mangum’s debut at BYU began a little earlier than scheduled, but the freshman quarterback is poised to take over the reigns for runningmate Hill. Hill started two games a freshman in 2012, winning both. Jake Heaps started 10 games as freshman and went 6-4. He holds the true freshman BYU records for wins, passing yards, completions, attempts and touchdowns.
VERSUS A RANKED TEAM. Under Mendenhall, BYU is 6-14 against ranked teams. The last time BYU beat a ranked team was No. 25 Texas in Austin last season.
Great weekend, excellent win for our program, really happy for our players and our coaches and just a great way to start the 2015 season.
Bittersweet from the standpoint of Taysom and his injury. Part of the elation in the locker room was just wild and excitement and the other part was somber and the realization that our quarterback got hurt. And so, working through both of those is kind of something that is happening at the same time at this point.
The coaching staff and players now are completely focused on Boise preparation and so we’re completely immersed in that and looking forward to another challenging and good game.
The four guys that were suspended: will they all be back this week?
They’ll all be back, yes.
How would you compare what Tanner is stepping into, compared to what Christian Stewart stepped into last year?
I’m not sure I can articulate that. I think the expectations after four weeks with Taysom and what and whom we had beaten at that point might have escalated the expectations even more than maybe what Tanner’s inheriting. Hard for me to say because I don’t gauge the outside influences as much, but I do know that with the way Tanner played coming off his mission – that probably heightened expectations as well, so I’m not sure it’s comparable other than there are high expectations. I’m not sure, though, after the four-game stretch we had with Taysom and all the attention that was there, that had built up, I’m not sure that we’ve matched that yet, is my kind of instinct.
How much did you guys talk to him about being ready for this moment in case it happened?
We really didn’t talk to him much about it. I think our entire focus was just being so excited that Taysom was back, that we had an experienced quarterback and that we could really go and play anyone and beat anyone on our schedule as long as Taysom was our quarterback. That was kind of our focus. And if I did learn anything from a year ago was that our team’s identity was and is tied a lot to our quarterback position and so I think we certainly now have addressed that, maybe in a different way – hopefully a better way – in terms of now framing the rest of the team of stepping up and doing more, rather than just relying on the quarterback to determine the identity of our team.
Do you have a clear-cut number two right now?
If I were to say today, it would be Beau Hodge. That’s as clear-cut as I can give you on Monday at noon. It might be different Wednesday, but if I’m saying now, that’s who I think it is.
How much does the adjustment of the offensive approach – how much have you talked to Coach Anae about how those adjustments need to be made?
I would say it’s similar to Taysom to Christian Stewart. It’ll be similar to now Taysom to Tanner Mangum. It won’t be identical, but that would be a fair comparison.
How confident, when Taysom went back into the game, were you that he couldn’t reinjure an injury that was already broken?
The nature of the injury–and I’ve learned a lot more from when I just announced after the game and I was a little premature with that and was kind of passing on what I was told–it was made very clear to Taysom and our trainer, through our doctors, that there is no risk of damaging it further. Once those words came out of the trainer/doctor’s mouth, Taysom said, ‘What can I do?’ And so then there was a tape job and some different things that allowed him to go back and last for a while, but it was made clear to him. I wasn’t involved in that all, but it was made clear to him that there was not a chance for it to be worse.
How important is it for the running game to step up?
Well I think it’s going to be important for every part of the offense to step up more, and every part of the defense and every part of the special teams. When you lose a player of Taysom’s caliber, it’s not just a player that makes up for that discrepancy or difference, it’s an entire team, and that was the main takeaway from a year ago. And eventually, when we got that approach clear and through to our team, we righted the ship. And so that would be the main takeaway is that every player in every position in every facet of the game needs to take up that slack.
Specifically the running game: was that more what Nebraska was able to do shutting it down or was that more just not seeing what you wanted to see?
No, we didn’t, nor was it really a part of the intended plan. Our plan, as you saw with the personnel we were putting out there and the quality of our receivers was actually to throw it more. The intent wasn’t to be as balanced as maybe what you’d seen before from us. We thought their defensive tackles were very good, we thought their front seven was very good and we thought the matchups might be more in our favor or a chance for more success if we were on the perimeter.
Boise State has an incredible record against, not just you guys, but other teams from Utah – the Aggies and Utes as well – could you explain that?
I think they have a pretty good record against anybody. They certainly do in Boise and they certainly do as a program. I’m not sure if you take, at least since I’ve been the head coach now going on my 11th season, how many teams have won more games than Boise over that time. I don’t think it’s Utah specific, I think it’s nation specific. They have good players, they do a nice job coaching them and they’ve developed a great culture.
The exposure you guys are getting from the Hail Mary – is that the kind of exposure you wanted for independents to go out and get those types of games?
Oh man, I don’t know if I wanted it from a Hail Mary, there’s only so many of those you have in you – the last one I think being against SMU, so it doesn’t happen very often. The foundation of the point, though, is yeah. The best teams that we can play on the biggest stages in front of the most people. And then demonstrate that we have a quality football team, a great program and it’s not only good for our football program, but it’s good for the institution and it’s good for The Church.
Could you tell us what you’re going to get back from Sione Takitaki and Tomasi Laulile on defense?
Yeah, what we’ll get back from Sione Takitaki is a pass-rush threat and more of a dynamic playmaker of personnel off the edge. That’s what he demonstrated a year ago was the ability to pressure the quarterback and he’s a playmaker. He has that capability. And in terms of Tomasi, same thing. A little bit more athleticism on the defensive line, blended with some physical play and so more depth as well as possibly more playmaking ability and athleticism. I would put those two together in the same category.
The tempo was a little different than in the last couple years. Is that just the makeup of the game and a different feel?
I think especially in the second half, Nebraska did a really nice job. It took us a long time offensively to start moving the ball again and to score. It’s hard to do that if you’re coming off the field in three-and-outs or after two series, so I’d really credit that more to what Nebraska was doing. And then conversely, defensively, we didn’t play very well in the first or third quarters. So the third quarter they held the ball for a really long time and so I think a combination of both of those things affected us.
On Nebraska converting a bunch of third and longs:
Quarterback was really effective. If there was any surprise to me, I was anxious to get them in third and long and there were three specifically, maybe a fourth, that I was very impressed by the quarterback and how well he threw the ball. He threw four passes that were really accurate and right on the money where I wasn’t so discouraged at how we covered, but I was more impressed by how he threw it. Without those four then possibly the third down percentage looks different, but if I were to take anything away and advise anyone against now playing Nebraska, I was more impressed by their quarterback’s ability to throw it than I had anticipated.
On Boise State's quarterback having his first road start:
Boise’s and I think any offense’s approach isn’t to allow their quarterback to be attackable. And so with the multiplicity of what they do and the way they manage and call the game, and really with how quickly he comes off his first or second look and scrambles for yardage, they’re going to protect him every way possible, and that’s part of what they do anyway. Yeah, he doesn’t have experience, but the system will help him.
Can you explain some of the challenges Tanner has faced, just from the timeframe being off the mission and trying to get caught up really fast now?
To Tanner’s credit, and what you just framed is he has had to get caught up really fast and it hasn’t been enough time, nor is it enough time to be completely caught up, but Taysom has helped him immensely. Tanner’s desire to study from the minute he got back has really helped him. Plus his poise, plus his maturity, plus his individual makeup gave him a chance to go out there on his first college game after a mission and look like he belonged. And he was having fun. I mean, I talked to him and I actually wanted him to be a little bit more nervous. He just was excited to play. Hopefully he doesn’t – what he didn’t know then – I hope he keeps that same mindset because he acted like it was no big deal. I certainly thought it was a big deal.
What do you recall from recruiting him?
I remember a lot about his recruiting. At that time his brother was part of the program and just an amazing family is BYU, and while he had so much other attention, it was just clear that this is where he was going to choose. This is where he wanted and it didn’t really matter who else wanted him. He was a BYU player and they’re a BYU family.
On the secondary:
Michael Wadsworth actually had a really nice game, and I was very impressed when he came in – the way he tackled and the way the perimeter changed when he came in so he did a really nice job. To have Kai Nacua back is a big boost. We did not play the perimeter in terms of getting off blocks and making tackles. And Kai is very athletic. He can get off blocks and make tackles so that will be a help.
Are you pretty pleased with your special teams play?
Loved our punter. Holy smokes. From not knowing how the rugby transition would work and then being his first college game, he was another one that didn’t seem too worried about anything other than he was just having fun so he and Tanner, different personalities, but kind of the same approach. And he was one of the differences in the game. Our punter was very, very good and I was pleased with that. Special teams overall, I thought was strong and off to a good start there.
QB Tanner Mangum, Fr.
On the reaction since the game:
“It’s been fun, more than anything. I’m just happy that we won. That’s the thought that keeps coming back to me is that we won and that we’re 1-0. That’s the thing I care about most.”
On reaction of his parents (Tanner’s brother, Madison, plays for Idaho State):
“My parents were in Idaho watching Madison’s game, but they were watching my game on their iPhone. They didn’t want to miss both games. He’s a senior, he’s their star player, and they didn’t think I was going to get in. I don’t blame them.”
“I got back to Provo and called my Mom and was excited that we could both play well and that we could both win our first game.”
On having nerves:
“I love situations like that. They’re fun and its always been that way. I thrive in those situations. Obviously I was a little bit nervous, but I just had to remind myself to stay calm and to enjoy it and have fun.”
On Hail Mary plays:
“The last time I was part of a Hail Mary play was fifth grade in my little league football. It was the last play of the game and I dropped back and threw it up and my best friend caught it in the end zone for the win. So that’s the last Hail Mary I remember and it definitely wasn’t in front of 90,000 fans.”
On BYU-Boise State matchup:
“It’s an awesome matchup. There’s a little bit of a rivalry between us. Growing up in Boise, I was always torn when Boise State and BYU would play because I’m a huge BYU fan and a huge Boise State fan. Obviously now I’m pulling for BYU. It’s a good matchup, two great programs, two great teams.“
On first career start vs. hometown team:
“It’s going to be pretty special. I’ve got some friends on the team who are former teammates and I know Coach Harsin. It’ll be fun having them in town and in Provo. They’ll have a lot of people rooting against me since they’re all from Boise, but it’ll be fun. It’s college football. I have to remind myself that it doesn’t matter who it is, you have to respect your opponent.”
On the process of getting game-ready since his mission:
“So I came home knowing I would just have a few months getting ready for the season. As a backup, you have to prepare as if you’re going to be the guy, because if you don’t, you’re going to be surprised and you won’t be ready. So all summer long I’ve been preparing myself mentally. With every rep I try and visualize it as if it were in the game so that way if the opportunity comes, and I’m called upon, I can step in and do my job. I didn’t know when the time was going to come and it came during the second quarter. So when Coach Anae said ‘You’re in,’ I said ‘Alright, let’s do it.’
I was ready and I have to credit Taysom and the coaches who helped me to be prepared for that situation.”
On chemistry with receivers:
“I love our receivers. Not only because they’re great football players but because they’re great guys off the field and some of my closest friends. Right when I got back from my mission, they rallied around me and made me feel welcome. And that has translated onto the field because we know we can trust each other. While I might not have as many reps with them in practice, I’m trying to make the most of every rep and stay after practice and get extra work in and those guys make it easy.”
On focusing on the next game:
“As great as it is coming out with the win you have to go back out and start preparing for the next week. We’re happy that we got the win and it’s awesome, but now it’s on to Boise State who’s a great team. We can’t get too caught up or focus on it too much, because in six days we’ll be playing another game.”
Parents watching the games:
“Plans have changed now. Preseason they didn’t think I was going to get much playing time which is understandable. Now they’ll split up and one parent will go to my brother’s game and one will come to mine. If time permits then they’ll come to both games if they can. It’s a fun time having my brother play as well, and he’s a great athlete.”
Memory of the final drive:
“It was fun. Throughout the whole fourth quarter, I was looking around on the sideline at the other guys and you could see in their eyes that we believed. We believed that when it came down to it that we could win the game. With 48 seconds left to go as we were walking out there, I kept thinking, ‘This is sweet. Let’s go do it.’ We marched down far enough just to give ourselves a chance, and when it came to that final play, Coach Anae told me to buy some time and then throw it up and let one of our guys make a play. I felt confident about it and I knew that we had three incredible receivers and I felt good. So when it happened, it was a moment of pure joy and it was a moment that came from confidence and belief. We knew that we could do it because we stuck together down to the end.”
Confidence from the mission:
“The mission teaches you so much: hard work, persistence and definitely confidence and knowing that you can do hard things despite adversity and trials. If you stay upbeat and positive and don’t let anything get to you, then you can accomplish your goals.”
WR Mitch Mathews, Sr.
It was a great win and a great team we played against. It was really emotional for me. It was a tough game, back and forth between us two. It was a lot of fun getting the win, but it was more emotional and humble than prideful.
Favorite part of Hail Mary play:
I was lying on my back with the ball and Nick Kurtz was the first one there. He jumped on me thinking it was a touchdown, but he wasn’t sure so he looked up at the ref and saw him put his hands up in the air. He jumped on top of me and said, 'We’re legends, we’re legends. We did it.' That was really cool, one of your best friends and roommates on the field with you and one of the biggest plays of college football. Having that happen was pretty special.
Tanner in the huddle after Taysom was out:
Tanner was poised. He and Christian Stewart have done a great job coming in and playing. I’ve never seen the amount of poise he showed as a freshman. He gave the receivers a lot of confidence knowing that this kid isn’t scared. We’re not trying to win eight or nine games with a freshman. We’re going to win every game with his ability. We believe we can.
On Taysom’s injury:
It was hard. I didn’t know what had happened until I hugged him in the locker room. Both of us were crying and he told me in my ear what had happened. During the game in the back of your mind you’re thinking okay maybe it’s a sprain, we don’t know what happened to his foot. During the game it was just pure enjoyment excitement, but after in the locker room obviously we celebrated, then me and him just sat there and hugged each other for a while. We told each other how much we loved each other and that all made it bittersweet. That was my favorite memory. Being able to hug him and comfort him. That moment was more special than the catch to me. Being there for one of my best friends.
On Tanner Mangum:
I’ve always had a good relationship with Tanner because he’s always been like a little brother to me. He came off his mission knowing that he’s going to be the backup and I had him under my wing. We were close before his mission. I’ve played with all three of the Mangum brothers, so I know their family really well. Now instead of being the bigger brother on the field, he has so much ability he will be able to show that he’s a starter. He will do awesome things this year and years to come.
Where the team is emotionally with the loss of Taysom:
We won the game, so that was a big help this year. Last year it was a shock after four big wins. The win really helped us. It gives us a lot of momentum going into the next game. Tanner gets to play his hometown team for his first start. We use the momentum to push us forward. We are excited to move past that game but use the energy everyone is bringing to beat Boise State.
Boise State as a rival:
They’re close, same recruiting pool. A lot of us know a lot of their guys. Idaho is the next state over. They’re a great team.
We beat them one year, they beat us the next. Two years makes it an instant rival. Let’s see what we do year three.
On Tanner coming off his mission:
It helps for those serving missions. Off your mission, you’re confident, poised, mentally there and focused. That’s every bit of what he is. How confident and poised he is, coming off a mission is working in his favor.
IR Terenn Houk, Sr.
Recounting the last play of the game:
It was one of the craziest, happiest experiences of my life.
We go out there and it’s 27-28 with one second left on the clock and I’m thinking, 'How are we going to do this?' They snap the ball, we run down the field and I set up where I’m supposed to be in the middle of the end zone. I see the ball come and I’m like okay I got to come back and get it, but the guy is all over me and I’m not getting there and it was starting to get to me. Then I see Mitch out of nowhere and he catches it and I freak out. I can’t believe he came down with it. All of the sudden he rolls in because I knew he was at the front of the end zone and I’m thinking, 'Did that just happen?' That never happens in real life. That’s something you see on ESPN Classic. I’m freaking–I’m in shock. I look at the ref thinking he’s going to say no, it’s incomplete, because there’s no way that happened. But then he raises his hands and it was the happiest moment in my life. So I run over and am like, 'Thank you!' I was outside myself. I don’t even remember. I was in the moment. It was probably the dumbest thing to ever do, but I run over and hug him. Then I realize it’s the ref and I’m like, 'Oh my gosh, I’m going to get a flag.' So then I run over and jump on the pile and it’s probably the most surreal, amazing moment ever. Everybody is dog piled on us and Cosmo is there out of nowhere. It was crazy. And then I had all these people asking, 'Did you know you hugged the ref?' Yeah, I know that was stupid. It was the greatest moment ever.
Seeing it on the replay:
This was the craziest thing that has ever happened to any one of us. Tanner had been off his mission for three months and throws this first touchdown pass as a Hail Mary to win it in the last second at Nebraska. We snapped their 29-game home-opening winning streak. It was everything you could have dreamed of as a football player. Our little section of fans just erupted. And then there’s Bronco freaking out and running around and people are like, 'Who is that?' It’s Bronco. Everybody was so happy.
I tried to show Coach Anae and he was just mad. He was like, 'You realize you could have gotten a flag?' And I’m like okay I’m sorry, but everyone else was laughing. It was so funny in the plane watching the replay and it focuses on Mitch and I know it’s coming and sure enough they replay it and say, 'Check out BYU football player Terenn Houk.' They zoom in on me and put a circle on me hugging the ref. I’m just thinking I’m never going to live this down.
On the wind:
The wind played a factor because Tanner has the strongest arm I’ve ever seen. During warm-ups when we first got there, Taysom threw a ball into the wind and it just sailed, so he was like if I’m throwing it against the wind I’ll put it more in line, but if I’m throwing it the other way I’ll put more on it. He was the first to notice the wind.
Prepping for rest of year:
We have to use the momentum to carry us into the next game. Nebraska is over and as amazing as it was, we have to move on to Boise State. We have to prove ourselves this year. Tanner with the amazing throw, Mitch with the amazing catch, offense and defense, the way the game ended was perfect. Using that momentum will help us spring in to this next game.
It’s about resiliency and stepping forward. We have to bounce back when someone gets hurt. Taysom is superman and it’s hard to lose a guy like that. Tanner proved he can step up and make plays and we’re going to have to rally around him and he’s going to have to step up and others will have to step up and make big plays, but I think we can do that.
Why we are confident in Tanner:
Coming back from his mission Tanner was already bought into the program. It’s hard for guys straight off the mission to have that edge and fire. He is a natural born leader. Before his mission he was making plays during spring ball and balling out. We know that when he steps on the field he’ll be a leader for us and make plays.
With Tanner, he’s just as good as Taysom throwing the ball. He’s as good at reading the defenses. There will be some adjustments, but overall we will be fine.
Owning the hug:
You just have to own it. It got blasted all over social media. I had people from third grade texting me saying, 'Did you know you hugged the ref?' I know, I was there.
DB Matt Hadley, So.
“What an experience. It was my first game back after my mission and getting to experience it with the guys I love – ‘wow’ that’s all I can say.”
On the defense:
“We played really well. There’s always a lot to learn from every game and we’re going to learn from the mistakes that we made, but I think we played well.”
On shutting down the run game:
“It was tough losing Travis, but I think the coaches helped us to adjust well and to do what we needed to do.”
On his playing style:
“I’m pretty similar to my brother Spencer when he played. We like flying around and making some contact.”
On Kai Nacua's return:
“Kai’s a great player, so it will definitely help us regardless of the changes in our defense.”
On Jonny’s performance:
“Jonny is a great athlete and rugby player, and he just did what we knew he could do. It wasn’t a surprise to see him play well.”
Expectations for Boise:
“We expect a lot of good players on their part. They’re a smart team and we just have to do everything we can to prepare for them. It’ll be a really fun game to watch.”
On the defensive backs:
“I’m happy, I feel that we did a lot of the things that our coaches asked us to do.”
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