The following is a partial transcript from head coach Bronco Mendenhall's weekly press conference including comments from offensive lineman Marco Thorson, defensive lineman Eathyn Manumaleuna, defensive back Preston Hadley and wide receiver McKay Jacobson.
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My comments regarding the Idaho game aren’t much different then what I said after the game in the press conference. I thought our teams played one of the most complete games, our special teams were stronger from start to finish than what they had been. I think our offense had a really nice balance. We played good defense and despite the loss of Riley early on, Jake came in and did a nice job in moving the football team and making good decisions. As we prepare now for New Mexico State and DeWayne Walker who has ties to BYU, having spent time here as an assistant coach. They are very explosive offensively with speed and athleticism at running back, receiver, and a mobile quarterback. New Mexico State has a wide-open style and up-tempo. Defensively they’ve struggled with managing points, but they in terms of their season a lot of games have been close. It will be an interesting match-up and an intriguing match-up and another one that fortunately for us is on ESPN. With that I’ll take questions that anyone has regarding this weeks opponent or next weeks game.
Can we get an update on Mike Hague and Houston Reynolds? Is there any further evaluation on their injuries?
The latest update on Mike Hague was he had an AC separation. He is expected and has a chance to return and play this week, probably wont see him in practice or any kind of contact until Thursday, which will be necessary to keep the depth we need in the secondary. Regarding to Houston Reynolds, he has been playing with a torn labrum in his shoulder. His commitment has been and his hope has been that he could make it through the entire season before he gets surgery. There wasn’t increased damage done, he was hurt and he took a shot too it and it was very, very painful so we’ll have to let that subside a bit. It doesn’t look like structurally there is anything that requires surgery immediately.
What is the latest on Riley?
The latest on Riley and I’m not sure what everyone knows to this point. There was basically what is called a multiple pneumothorax, which the severity of the blow hits you, so hard that air escapes the lung, goes into the body cavity and then the lung collapse, about 30 percent of the lung was collapsed. They put a tube in, sucked the air out so the lung can re-expand. He’ll be released from the hospital today. There was also, from my understanding, two ribs that have been were broken or fractured up near the top. I think it’s the second. There is a chance the Riley could return to play as early as Hawaii. They’re listing a four-week recovery at this point, and that’s plus or minus, so normally when they give those times it’s conservative in nature. One of the issues will be, any time there is a lung injury with extended air travel that adds increased risk. He might be able to play but not make the trip because of the pressurization in the air cabin as he’s flying, so that will be a decision that comes later.
So if he is healthy and cleared to play for the Hawaii game, would he be immediately go back into the starting role?
You played DeWayne Walker obviously for a few years when he was at UCLA, do you keep a friendship with him? Have you talked to him much over the past two or three years?
Maybe just once a year, either I’ll just see him at the convention or in this particular year, we had just beaten Utah State and I received a text from him, then we were getting ready to play or had San Jose State coming up on our schedule and they had just played them, so he provided some insight into what he thought of San Jose, so there have been a few texts like that, have gone back and forth and that’s really the extent of it. I would say our relationship is slightly more than professional, and more friendly than a lot of the coaches that I interact with. He’s done a nice job. I think that with the remaining teams left, they have us on their schedule. I still believe they have Utah State, but the progress they’re making, you can see it in athleticism and in talent. And the schemes are catching up to that, so whether this will be the breakthrough year or whether next year, you can see progress.
Is it harder to evaluate against a team like Idaho or a team like TCU?
Not necessarily. I have never really tried to manage that. I take into account of what I think of the opponent but when I look at the film from the game and grade our film and evaluate our team I am looking at the execution of each and every player. I am looking at the position mastery, the fundamentals and the effort regardless of who we play. We did take a step forward. It was a cleaner game that was played.
Are you getting tired of the late starts?
Late starts are not my favorite. However it is a trade off that I would make and make every time now in relation to the exposure. I didn’t feel like that at one time. In the Mountain West we had a huge push to play when college football is supposed to be played and is Saturdays at 11 a.m. or 1 p.m. or etc. The feedback now from so many people having seen us play is I am willing to endure a long day to have people see us. They are hard.
Do you find it interesting that your running quarterback was hurt throwing the football?
It’s not that he was just throwing it but that he was standing in there to the very last second with a guy bearing in on him. He see’s him bearing in on him and throws it anyway and throws a touchdown. What is more ironic is that wasn’t the play he was hurt on. He played about five plays afterwards. The touchdown pass that he was hit second on, he had been playing on it already. It was the first hit earlier he was hurt on.
Did anything appear a little bit dicey with getting updates and news on the injury to Riley?
No more so than after the initial evaluation because his pain threshold and his tolerance is so high trying to get an idea oh how hurt he was because he doesn’t act hurt. When they pressed on his chest cavity that is when they could tell that there was air that had escaped from the long. That is when they took him to the hospital. They could tell just by pushing on it, it wasn’t because he was in dire pain or anything.
How do you adjust the offense from a mobile quarterback to a pocket passer now?
It is an adjustment and there will have to be some things changed. Really the offense is similar enough that it’s mostly just Riley’s ability to scramble that makes it difficult. Not much but I couldn’t give you a percentage of offense that would change with Jake rather than Riley, other than the scrambling ability. That will be the biggest difference.
Is this group of seniors all your recruits and how would you categorize them?
I think they are all mine with a few exceptions. They have helped us win a lot of football games. To have so many that have made it through the program from beginning to end that means a lot to me in terms of retention and identifying the right kids on the front end. My hope is as you visit with them after the season or even now what they say about their experience will matter a lot to me. Not by what they say but hopefully there experiences will have been positive and will be helpful as they transition into real life.
Is this a chance for Jake Heaps to regain some trust or anything with the team or coaches?
Jake has a great opportunity, and I am not sure it is a matter of trust, I think it is just a matter of continuing to play with I poise and maturity and increased confidence in leading our team. Jake much like Riley a year ago had the more difficult schedule to begin with. Now he has a chance to re-surge and I would expect to see him do it now after seeing him have an increased level of leadership, excitement, execution and to really demonstrate not only to the team but everyone around BYU football to remind them just how capable he really is.
Offensive Lineman Marco Thorson
What is the experience like on senior night?
It has been an emotional experience for the younger guys. You just kind of realize that you are one step closer to it being over and it goes so quick and it is over before you realize it. I think in years past my heart has gone out to seniors as they leave. We'll miss them on the team and we will miss their presence. I don't know what I will think when it is me.
Talk about the balance of the offense and the play of the offensive line?
I think we have taken on a role of being leaders on the team this season. Our focus has been at performing at high level, executing our assignments and doing what we are supposed to do. Each week no matter the outcome we watch the film and see things to improve on and that is why each game we have gotten better as a unit and as a group.
Defensive Lineman Eathyn Manumaleuna
What challenges on the defensive line when you face a running quarterback vs. a drop back passer?
With a running quarterback it chances quite a bit on our schemes and our blitzes. The assignments we get from Coach Mendenhall we can trust that his calls will help us with the plays no matter what kind of quarterback is back there. It is on us whether or not we want to be dominant in our assignments and execute well.
Defensive back Preston Hadley
What do you know about New Mexico State who scores a lot of point?
Not much at all really. If they score a lot of points it means we have to be sharper with our execution. We are hopefully going to just dictate what they do.
How do you feel with this being the last home game of the season?
I guess it hasn't hit me yet. Just thinking about it is kind of a shock about how fast the season has gone by. It has just been a giant blur. It's sad with it being the seniors' last home game and playing at LaVell Edwards Stadium. It is going to be hard not playing here for another year now.
Wide Receiver McKay Jacobson
Now being a senior, if you were to look back and tell yourself something as a freshman what would you say?
I would just say to keep working and be ready for opportunities. That is really all I can say. I have enjoyed my time here. I have three more games left. I would say look forward to enjoying each practice, each game and enjoying the whole experience.
Does your game change at all with Jake in at quarterback or with Riley?
With Riley you have to be aware that he might scramble or the play breaks down to be ready. With Jake the ball comes up on you faster than it normally would since he has a strong arm. Besides those two things I can't really think of anything else I do differently. You just have to go out there and play and be aware.