Speaking on this morning's MWC Teleconference, BYU coach Bronco Mendendhall said he has been impressed with his team's "resiliency" in the face of "a lot of unique challenges this year."
The coach reiterated that he knows "over time, at some point, we'll be able to execute in a manner that it will pay off."
You can hear the entire teleconference session by clicking on the audio link in the "Cougar Cuts" box below.
Noting the absence of injured NT Romney Fuga, and asked about filling that void, the coach said "I don't think the void is fill-able, as Romney played the position. He was as playing as good as any nose tackle that I've coached before."
On QB Jake Heaps, who made his first BYU start in the loss to Nevada: "He's more mature and poised than I gave him credit for. I liked his resiliency, I liked the way he bounced up after sacks, I like the way he responded even when he didn't make a critical throw, and I like his hope and optimism, with an exceptional talent of being able to throw the football."
"It's one start from a true freshman quarterback with a long career ahead, but I was pleased, and I told him that after the (Nevada) game."
Mendenhall said his team was quick to rally behind the rookie QB: "I think (the players) were anxious just to have a player named, and that it's Jake, because of the situation with Riley (Nelson), I think they are wholeheartedly supporting him, and willing to stand by him and help him learn and grow and move our offense."
On Friday night's game with Utah State: "An intriguing matchup with two teams really fighting and struggling to to get a win. I think this is probably the most captivating game that BYU and Utah State have played, at least since I've been the coach."
Referencing the 1-3 start to the 2005 season, Mendenhall said "I really don't even remember what that feels like, because of the successes" since. He said he does remember the 2005 win at New Mexico (to improve to 2-3), and the tears that followed what he called a "desperate" win.
Mendenhall says "at this point, my perspective is a little bit different, not that I don't want the win, not that I don't desperately want to help our kids to play at a higher level, but I've actually tried to remain very, very consistent, from what our teams has seen the past four years... and not overreact."
Utah State offensive coordinator Dave Baldwin filled in for head coach Gary Andersen during Monday's WAC Teleconference (see below). A couple of highlights:
"BYU is a very good football team. Their record is very similar to ours, but they've been beaten by some very good football teams. We don't look at the record."
"You look at the athletes they have... they're well-coached, they'll be ready to play... I know the young quarterback is going to be able to execute now that he's been able to get more reps as 'the' guy."
The BYU defense is "flying around to the football. They did a nice job against Nevada; really shut them down in the second half. It's going to be a true test for us to play the Cougars here at home."
"It's a Friday night football game, and it's national attention, and our kids know that they've got to be up and ready to go."
Andersen had to miss the MWC Teleconference because of a health concern. As released by Utah State today:
"LOGAN, Utah - Utah State football head coach Gary Andersen suffered a neck injury at his home Monday morning and is recovering.
"Gary is a very fit and well conditioned individual with a low resting heart rate and low resting blood pressure. He simply got up too quickly and fell, injuring his neck, which from the wear and tear on his neck from his football days made it a more worrisome injury. His prognosis is good, and he will be fine," USU team physician Dr. Trek Lyons said.
Andersen was released from the Logan Regional Hospital Emergency Room late Monday morning and spent the afternoon resting at his home, before making an appearance at the Aggies' practice. According to Dr. Lyons, Andersen will be in a neck brace as a precaution.
Andersen intends on resuming full coaching activities and being with his team for USU's game against BYU on Friday, Oct. 1 at 6 p.m."