In eight years as a head coach, Bronco Mendenhall and the BYU football team have played in a lot of different venues ranging from small, comfortable confines to enormous NFL palaces.
But the long-time defensive coach knows Saturday's game at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wisc., will prove to be an extra challenge. And he's looking forward to it.
"That's one of the great things about traveling to the stadiums we play in: to play teams that leave a significant impact, then come back and examine your own culture and fan base," Mendenhall said at Wednesday's weekly coach's show at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
Coming off a second and final bye week of the season, BYU is ready for a high-profile Saturday showdown with the No. 24 (BCS) Wisconsin Badgers.
"It's going to be a big challenge, big stage, probably one of the biggest games we're going to face and play this season" said senior defensive lineman Eathyn Manumaleuna after the Cougars' Thursday practice at the team's indoor practice facility.
"It's a big challenge, but we're up for it."
The Cougars have been on a roll of late -- on several rolls, actually.
After a slow start to the season, BYU quarterback Taysom Hill found his arm and transformed into a true dual-threat quarterback, ranking No. 6 in the country with an average of 357.5 yards per game of total offense.
Receiver Cody Hoffman is rewriting the BYU record books on a weekly basis. The senior sensation already set new marks for touchdown grabs and total receptions in a career and stands a mere 14 yards away from capturing the title of most receiving yards in a career, too.
Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen was in the mid-90s a high school coach in Park City, out of the college game--until he got a phone call from Bronco Mendenhall, then the co-defensive coordinator at Northern Arizona.
Mendenhall needed a defensive line coach, and he called Andersen, who accepted the post and later became an assistant head coach with the Lumberjacks, before moving on to the University of Utah as an assistant. A long stint with the Utes (as defensive line coach and DC), and a pit-stop at Southern Utah (as head coach) led eventually to the head post at Utah State, where he served for four seasons before taking the Wisconsin job last December.
On Monday in Madison, Andersen said that at the time Mendenhall reached out, "I had really nowhere to go. I didn't have an in' in college football at that point. I was hoping I could get back in at some point."
BYU closes out its two-game exhibition slate Saturday night at the Marriott Center, hosting Division II foe Alaska-Anchorage--a team with some strong ties to Utah, coached by a guy with whom Dave Rose once wanted to work.
The Seawolves feature three LDS returned missionaries, two of whom played their high school ball in the Beehive State; one of those players (Brad Mears from Bingham HS) went on to play at Snow College, where he was a teammate of Seawolves guard Teancum Stafford--whose sister Behka was a BYU basketball star in the 1990s.
UAA head coach Rusty Osborne was, like Rose, a product of the Houston, Texas high school system.
Surgeries will sideline a pair of senior stalwarts on the BYU football team.
The school announced Thursday that receiver/punt returner JD Falslev will be out for up to a month after surgery to repair a broken hand, while linebacker Austen Jorgensen is scheduled for a season-ending procedure to repair damaged knee cartilage.
Falslev suffered the injury while participating in a mid-bye week team activity at a Provo indoor entertainment center; Jorgensen's injury is a cumulative-effect situation and not related to any one particular incident.
SACRAMENTO, CA — Former BYU All-American Jimmer Fredette was informed on Thursday that the Sacramento Kings would not pick up the fourth-year option on his contract.
If Fredette's option had been picked up, it would have paid him 3.1 million dollars for the 2014-2015 season. Instead, the former National Player of the Year will become an unrestricted free agent at season's end.
Fredette told Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports, "this is a business decision for the Kings and they are doing what they believe is best for the organization. I will continue to work hard and be the best I can be moving forward in my career."
PROVO Years ago, from the mid-to-late 1990s into the turn of the century, I hosted a nightly sports talk show on KSL Radio. I was a solo host, and the responsibility of going it alone every night helped me grow as a broadcaster. The lone-man-in-the-booth approach also made me reliant on a good guest list, and good listener calls; this was of course before the days of tweets and texts as supplementary feedback.
One of those listeners who became a regular caller, both during my show and later during football and basketball broadcasts, was a man I came to know simply as "Glenn from Moses Lake."
His name was Glenn Perrins, and he lived in Moses Lake, Washington, but in the radio universe we shared, he was known to me by his first name and his hometown, and that was it.
If the the question from national college football commentator Tony Barnhart was unexpected, BYU quarterback Taysom Hill didn't let it faze him.
"What do you think about throwing your name in the Heisman Trophy (mix)?" Barnhart asked during Hill's Tuesday interview appearance on CBS Sports Network. "Are you a contender?"
Moments before, Barnhart referenced Hill's "coming-out party" against Texas, when the BYU sophomore accounted for almost 400 yards of total offense in leading the Cougars to a 40-21 win over the Longhorns. Hill's 259 rushing yards that night rank second all-time at BYU, and the team's 550 rush yards represented a BYU record and the most ever allowed by Texas in a single game.
PROVO — As BYU begins its second bye week of the season, Head Coach Bronco Mendenhall couldn't help but reflect on the Cougars' impressive win this past Friday against Boise State.
"After the film and watching Boise State, a really good football game. Offensively, defensively we continue to gain momentum. I think our team is improving, I think they're more optimistic than ever. The bye week comes at a really good time to heal. (It's) nice to get a few extra days looking at Wisconsin. We're looking forward to a great game in Madison, on a big stage in front of a lot of people."
After Friday's win over the Broncos, Coach Mendenhall wasn't sure how he would structure practices during the bye week. Today, he revealed that it will be a mixture of getting healthy and getting ready for the Badgers.
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