No. 19/22 BYU travels to Pasadena to face No. 10/12 UCLA
PROVO, Utah – No. 19/22 BYU will face No. 10/12 UCLA in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, on Saturday. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. PT and will the game will be televised nationally on Fox Sports 1.
BYU (2-0) is coming off a 35-24 win over Boise State at home and the Bruins (2-0, 0-0) topped UNLV in Las Vegas last week 37-3.
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 5:30 p.m. PT.
BYUtv will provide pregame and postgame coverage, with Countdown to Kickoff starting at 6:30 p.m. PT. Postgame coverage runs for half an hour after the game.
No. 19/22 BYU (2-0) at No. 10/12 UCLA
Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. PT
Rose Bowl (80,616)
BYU is 2-0 for the fifth time under head coach Bronco Mendenhall. BYU’s best start under Mendenhall was 2008 when the Cougars started 6-0. BYU has won at least eight games every season under Mendenhall with a 2-0 start.
The last time the Cougars faced UCLA was a historic 59-0 win for BYU in Provo in 2008. The 59-point win would be the largest margin of victory for a non-Power 5 school over a Power-5 school. The Cougars are 3-7 against UCLA and most recently 2-1 under Mendenhall. In 2007 the teams faced off twice. During the regular season the Bruins beat the Cougars 27-17 in Pasadena and then BYU edged UCLA 17-16 in the Las Vegas Bowl.
The last time BYU defeated a top-10 team was 2009 against No. 3 Oklahoma when the Cougars upset the Sooners 14-13 in Cowboys Stadium in Arlington. BYU is 1-5 against top-10 teams during the Mendenhall era.
BYU is 160-49 since 1922 when competing as a ranked team. The last time BYU was ranked in the regular season was heading into game five of 2014 when the Cougars were ranked No. 18. Under Mendenhall, BYU is 7-14 against ranked teams after defeating No. 20/22 Boise State last week.
Safety Kai Nacua was named National Defensive Player of the Week by the College Sports Madness for his three interceptions against Boise State. Wide receiver Mitchell Juergens was named an honorable mention by the CFPA for Performance of the Week with 172 receiving yards and two touchdowns against the Broncos.
Bronco Mendenhall, head coach
On the win against Boise State:
It was a great game. It’s a good win for our program and an outstanding night for our fans, because it was a cool environment. It was great to see our team come back again and show resiliency.
I do think we improved our special teams. I thought it got better. I thought they started strong against Nebraska and that they improved again with Boise. I think the defense really improved as well. Offensively, especially in the second half with the addition of the run game, I think we started to see some momentum there. Our receivers continue to be a positive force for our offense in making plays. Overall, it’s a really strong start for our program. There’s a lot of optimism and hope looking forward to the UCLA game, which is another great challenge for us. It’s fun to have these kind of opponents week in and week out. The players are excited, the coaches are excited, and I think the fan base will be as well.
I’m really, really happy for Kai Nacua in his return and his debut. The way that he finally came back and established himself on our team, I was pleased with him in that regard.
I think Boise is a good team. They had great schemes and they’re really well coached. It was a great college football game.
On Travis Tuiloma being out:
A lot of it went to Logan Taele. He’s the next most seasoned, experienced, and physical player at the point of attack. Based on the personnel that Boise had in the game, we used him as much as we could with Graham Rowley.
On the two late 4th-quarter wins:
I think the team is really close. They have great chemistry and there are good players. But, a lot of this I attribute to the offseason training. It was really hard. Coach Wintrich put them through the ropes. So, I think some of that resiliency and conditioning is contributing. That’s my theory, plus a little more experience from a year ago in a lot of positions. It’s a combination of those things that have helped us.
They’re fast, athletic, they throw and catch the ball well, and they have a really good scheme. They played over 100 plays on offense in their last game against UNLV, so they go for the up-tempo and they’re very explosive.
He’s really skilled and poised for a young player. I’ve been very impressed.
On UCLA in comparison to Nebraska and Boise State:
It’s hard to say. All three teams have been distinct. Each has been really good. I don’t know who the best team is. They’re all different. The matchups might have something to do with it. I thought Nebraska was a good team, I thought Boise was a good team, and now watching film, I think UCLA is good. But they’re all different, so I don’t know who’s better. The rankings clearly after Week 3 say that UCLA is, but we’ll find out. We certainly respect them.
Two freshman QBs playing in the game:
Both players are highly recruited and showing that they should have been. It’s pretty fun for both programs to be thinking about the future with the quarterbacks there.
Tanner Mangum, QB, Fr.
On the second Hail Mary:
I sound like a broken record, but I’m just happy we won. To be able to come out and play against Boise State, especially in front of a home crowd and come out with a win is huge for our team and our program. It feels good to come out on top, but more than anything now we’re focusing on UCLA, which is a big-time opponent for us Saturday.
There’s a lot I can work on and improve. Overall, it’s getting comfortable in the pocket. They brought good pressure, so it’s making sure I do my best to stay in the pocket and look down the field. Sometimes I was a little antsy, but I feel I did some good things as well. As a whole, our offense got better as the game went on. It’s a testament to the coaching staff that made some adjustments and our guys just fighting hard to the end. The second half our running game came alive. This week we will be working on fine-tuning those things so we can come out better on Saturday than we have in the past weeks.
Reaction to the go-ahead touchdown:
It’s exciting because it was such a big play, especially there in front of the home crowd and to hear the stadium erupt like that was special because of what it meant for the team in that moment. I use it as motivation to work hard throughout the week so that next Saturday we can do the same thing. Maybe not another Hail Mary but to come out on top is the reason it is so emotional. It’s a victory for our team and our program.
On UCLA rookie QB:
I’ve seen some of his highlights and he’s a very good quarterback. It’s awesome to see a young guy like that do so well. I have a lot of respect for that. It’ll be good to go out on Saturday and play not only against him but a team like that around him.
UCLA has always been a storied program and they have a good team this year. It’s a big challenge for us, but it’s something we’re excited for.
On mission workouts:
It wasn’t my priority. I was down there forgetting about myself and home and serving the people down there.
Improvements on offense in the next weeks:
There are always things to improve no matter how well you do. Something we can work on is our run game. It balances out everything. You love to have a good run game as a quarterback because it opens passing lanes down the field. It’s something we’ll work on, but I also have a lot to work on with my timing with the receivers and putting myself in the right position. As time goes on with more experience and more games, you get more comfortable and you feel more confident. I think that’s how it goes for all of us, offensively and defensively. It’s just little things you can improve on each week that will give us a better chance of winning.
A piece of advice that I received on Saturday was from Taysom. He texted me before the game to say good luck. I texted him and told him we’re playing for him and we miss him. He said good luck and no matter what happens out there, if it doesn’t go your way, it’s how you respond in those moments that will establish you as a leader. That means a lot because a lot of things go wrong in the game. You make mistakes and things don’t go your way, but you have to keep your head up and keep fighting. This is something I want to remember. It’s all about how you respond to those situations and adversity that will make the difference.
On his personality helping his game:
It definitely carries over. I’m naturally a happy person, upbeat, but at the same time it doesn’t mean I’m soft. I’m super competitive. I hate losing. I think anyone does who plays this game. It helps in those situations because things go wrong, you throw two interceptions, but you have to keep your head up because if you get down, you won’t be yourself and you start playing hesitant. It definitely carries over to the football field and vice versa too. Things you learn from football carry over into your life as well.
Coming back in the fourth quarter:
It’s huge for our team to be able to do that to stick together and keep fighting till the end of the game. A lot of it comes from our conditioning staff and our heart and our desire to win. A lot of it is our coaching, making adjustments throughout the game and putting us in good positions to win. It’s something we want to carry throughout the rest of the season. We have tough games coming up. It’s going to be a tough game coming up at UCLA. It’ll take four quarters. It will take a full team effort. It’s something we want to take pride in, being a four-quarter team and being able to finish those tough situations.
Mitch Mathews, WR, Sr.
We’ve got an opportunity to meet a great team at a great place and really show who we are. We could be one of the most talked about teams in the country right now with what we’ve been doing, so all eyes are going to be on us. If we go and sit on our hands, then we’ll squander what we’ve already built, so I think that going there to their place and beating them in there, it will solidify those two wins that we had and they won’t be “lucky” anymore.
On the matchup:
Ranked team against ranked team at their place, I would say this has to be the biggest game I’ve played in or one of the most important that I’ve been a part of.
Being independent, every game really is important because if you lose one, your shot at going to a huge bowl game is dimmed and if you lose two, you have no real shot to go to a huge bowl game. So every game really is important, but the focus, the intensity at practice this week needs to be at its highest level.
UCLA is athletic. They get four-star and five-star recruits, so they’ll have great athletes, they’ll have great speed. With their defense, they do a lot of – I wouldn’t say trickery – but they try to confuse the quarterback with some of their coverage. Cover two on one side, cover three on the other side. They’re great athletes, they’re a great team obviously. They’ll always be ranked because they have great athletes and great players. They have some dogs. They have some guys that can really play football, so going there and beating them at their place will show a lot about who we really are.
If there’s a guy to fight for a ball, it’s Mitch Juergens – not the tallest guy in the world, but he’s a guy that will play big and play tall when necessary, and that’s what he did and came down with it.
On being competitive:
Competitive greatness is being at your best when your best is needed. I think that to have that competitive greatness, there’s a lot of building blocks that are underneath that, right? There’s hard work, discipline, there’s a complete offseason. There’s being healthy, there’s having the right leadership, there’s the right plays – all those building blocks add up to the top one, which is competitive greatness. Being at your best when your best is needed is catching a bomb, catching a Hail Mary, catching a fourth-and-one like we had at Nebraska by Nick Kurtz. Be at your best when your best is needed. That’s the type of guys we have and the type of leadership.
Bronson Kaufusi, DL, Sr.
On Logan Taele:
Logan is a great player. We moved him down to nose and he did a really good job. It’s nice to have a guy that can jump in there right away and play well.
UCLA is a really good team. Their offense–I know they’re quick. Their quarterback–he’s young, but really talented. He’s a really good player so we’ll definitely be game planning for him.
The key to facing their running talent?
You just have to make sure you stay in your rushing lanes. If you rush four guys or three guys, you have to make sure that when he’s in the pocket, he sees guys in front of him and doesn’t feel like he can run. Same thing against Boise State–you have to stay in front of the quarterback no matter what and make sure he feels like there’s a cage around him.
How does it feel to be back in national rankings?
That’s always a good thing, and I’m excited to have that. I feel like it definitely adds confidence to players and more motivation for us to get better.
Describe your leadership style:
For me a big part of leadership is that you can’t just tell people how to do things, you have to show people how to do things, and so for me, being an example is the number one thing: on the field, off the field, in practice, in the film room, in the training room. No matter where you’re at, you have to do that: be the example. That’s what I try to focus on.
Do you ever get loud?
There’s a season for all things. On the field – that’s when I’m the loudest. Off the field I’m pretty calm, relaxed, easy going, but you kind of have to pull the beast out of the cage when you get on that field.
Fred Warner, LB, So.
On the defensive backs:
It gives us a lot of confidence as pass-rushers knowing that the DBs are going to cover. Mike Wadsworth is a veteran who has been patient and never complained and he’s waited for his moment and he took full advantage of that with eleven tackles this past game. Kai had a tremendous game with the three interceptions That’s expected of him since he’s such a great athlete.
On defense improving:
I feel like we’re definitely getting stronger and have shutouts in the fourth quarter both of the last two games. I attribute that to our conditioning in the offseason and working really hard this summer to be able to play four quarters. Coach Mendenhall has called the right plays at the right time in crucial parts of the game. I feel like we’ve gained more and more confidence in the last two games.
On playing at UCLA close to home:
I try not to think about that too much because we want to take the approach of each game at a time, but being able to come back home and play in front of family members and friends or play against guys that I played against growing up should be really fun. I’m excited.
On facing a freshman quarterback:
The whole country is talking about how great this quarterback is and to us he’s just another guy that we’re playing against. We have a lot of respect for UCLA and what they’ve done. We’re going to treat this workweek the exact same way and we’re going to play hardnosed defense like we have been.
On having Kai Nacua back:
It’s a big confidence builder knowing that he’s a playmaker and a smooth athlete behind us. We know that when he’ s back there, he’s going to do his assignment and make some plays. As pass-rushers, we know we have time because he and Micah (Hannemann) are going to cover their guys.
Kai Nacua, DB, Jr.
On facing UCLA:
I think conditioning will be a big factor for us. We know that they run a lot different personnel and a lot of passing. I look forward to it because it means that the ball will be there for us.
On improving from the Boise State game:
It’ll be fun to see. I’m just going to study film as hard as I can and try to learn to recognize their routes so that I’ll be prepared when they throw the ball my way.
On postgame reaction:
We just feel really blessed that we won that game against Boise. It’s been really fun. The defense did really well for us and we’ve been enjoying the victory.
On his final interception:
A lot of the guys and even coach Mendenhall were talking to me in the team meeting saying, ‘I know you saw me pointing at the ground to get down.’ Honestly, I didn’t see them. I was just running. I saw green grass and tried to get some points.
On playing in front of the home crowd:
It felt really good the whole day. I was just pumped and I had to calm myself down so that I wouldn’t waste energy for the game that night. It was really fun to come out in front of the home crowd and I was really feeding off them. I felt like that was the loudest that I had ever heard them.
On growth during the offseason:
Learning from the bowl game last season has really helped me to mature. I know that every decision I make affects more than just me. I’ve just tried to show the coaches that I did learn from it and it’s time for me to step up into the role that they need me to play and to make plays.
Emotions after suspension:
Immediately I accepted it and I tried to be humble. It happened and there was no trying to fight it with it being all over the media. I just had to learn from it and try and show the other guys that there’s a different way to react to it.
On being a leader on the defense:
For me, my main thing is having fun. You can’t play serious the whole time. When you’re out there with your boys you can’t just be serious, you have to be yourself the whole time and that’s what I try and bring to the defense. I felt on Saturday we were all having fun and cheering for each other.
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