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BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall met the media in his first weekly press conference of the season Monday morning, pronouncing his team "really excited" for Saturday's opener at Ole Miss.
You can hear the entirety of Mendenhall's press conference remarks in "Cougar Cuts" (left).
Saying his post-camp team is the "healthiest" it has been in Mendenhall's seventh year on the sidelines, the coach credited his staff for doing a "really nice job preparing us to this point."
About the opponent the Cougars will face Saturday in Oxford, Mendenhall said there is "still some uncertainty as to what we're going to be defending and what we're going to be going against in terms of their defense."
"To predict how the game will go--that will be difficult, so really most of the focus is on ourselves, our schemes, our execution...and it will put quite a bit of emphasis on gameday, and then matching up to what we see that we hadn't predicted."
Mendenhall was asked about the popular story of the day, that being projected realignment within the Big 12 and conference expansion in general.
"I can't speak on us specifically," said Mendenhall, "nor do I know who's contacting us, if anyone's contacting us...but in terms of the direction...with some of the movement you are seeing, I see it moving in (the 'superconference') direction. How that will be pulled off and when, I'm not sure."
About the move toward mega-conferences, Mendenhall said the movement is a result of "those that have budgets and have money and have support, not wanting to be held back by those that are struggling for those things."
"That parity and that equity is a consistent problem that is brought up a lot. Eventually it will come to a head, (and) I think it's getting relatively close."
Asked of he sees BYU as a part of one of those superconfernces, Mendenhall said "I think our job is to earn our way in, and I think that we certainly deserve recognition and consideration. My job is to make sure we don't leave any doubt."
"Whenever that is to happen...with the number of games that we're winning and the rankings that we're achieving, it would be difficult for us not to be in consideration. The next three years will be critical, especially to the national landscape."
Another "big picture" question was asked, relative to Mendenhall's stated desire to win a national championship.
"My guess is our access to to the BCS will be the exact same (as an independent); we have to go undefeated, and we'll probably have to do it a number of years."
"What my dream is, is that a national championship is possible, knowing that we'll have to undefeated at least once to get into a BCS game, and you'll probably have to win that game. And then you'll probably have to go undefeated agian, within a relatively short amount of time, to get the nod to then have that opportunity (for a national champioship). It's certainly difficult, but I'm not going to say it's not possible."
Back to the opener at Ole Miss, here's Mendenhall--
On how he views his team coming out camp: "I like our team, I think we have a lot of depth, I think we have good players."
On getting ready for another season opener: "Expectations are much, much higher, based on the kind of program that we've had for the last six years. Now, (it's) expected to take another significant jump, which I think we're prepared for--not only personally, but as a team."
On being favored at Ole Miss: "Just established credibility that's been built over six years. We've won a lot of games, and we've beaten some good teams. So when you consider the consistency we have shown...and when you then consider a returning quarterback and a lot of returning players...I don think it's anything negative against Ole Miss, I think it's just a compliment based on credibility earned."
"Predictions don't mean much; we still have to go play and play well, and we think it will be a very difficult game against a formidable opponent. But I do like that there is confidence in our program. I think early season predictions a lot of times reflect confidence in programs."
On Ole Miss planning to play two QBs v. BYU: "I reflect back to last year (at BYU), and two quarterbacks are hard, because it affects the chemistry on your team. All I've tried to do is predict what might do, in leading to scheme...what (Ole Miss) might do because of who the quarterback is. I don't know enough about them to highlight strengths or weaknesses."
On how QB Riley Nelson may be implemented: "All I've done is express my expectations to not only our offensive staff but our special teams staff on how he might be used. Their job is to design the schemes and strategy to meet the bigger picture expectations that I've shared with them."