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Back to Work on Labor Day

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BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall had his team back on the practice field Monday evening in Provo, with the Cougars running through a helmets-only practice in the IPF, five days ahead of their date with the Texas Longhorns in Austin.


Saying he worries about scheme before he concerns himself with personnel, Mendenhall commented after practice about the UT offense, led by new co-coordinator Bryan Harsin, who left Boise State after the 2010 season to join Mack Brown's staff in the Lone Star State.

"They have a proven model at Boise State," said Mendenhall, "and they're replicating that model (at Texas)."

"Which plays we'll see, and which plays (Harsin) thinks we're vulnerable to, that remains to be seen, but he's there for a reason, and that's his success at Boise State."

You can hear Mendenhall's post-practice interview and a media session with QB Jake Heaps, by going to "Cougar Cuts" above.


Three BYU players left Saturday's game at Ole Miss with injuries, but all three were in uniform Monday, in varying states of readiness.

The most in the clear is RB Juice Quezada, who suffered what head trainer Kevin Morris called an "impact-induced migraine" during the game. Quezada was available for today's practice.

FB Zed Mendenhall re-aggravated a high ankle sprain, but today "looked better than he did last week," said Morris. Mendenhall conditioned during practice but joined his teammates as an observer at the end of the session.

LB Brandon Ogletree suffered a concussion in Oxford, and is listed as day-to-day, with no decision yet as to his status for the game at Texas. Ogletree was on the sidelines, helmet in hand, today.


Ole Miss fared potentially much worse after Saturday's physical affair, with all of the Rebels top three backs getting knocked out of the game at one time or another. The most seriously injured player was lead back Brandon Bolden, who has an ankle fracture. Enrique Davis suffered a hyperextended knee, while Jeff Scott was wheeled off the field before returning with what was diagnosed as a shin contusion.

On the bruising nature of the win at Ole Miss, Mendenhall tonight said his defensive players "responded well, and matched physicality with physicality, and liked it."


Looking ahead to the meeting with the Longhorns, Bronco was asked about the agreement in place that will bring Texas to Provo in 2013 and return the Cougars to Austin in 2014.

"I think it's great," said Mendenhall. "Man, if you're talking about playing on big stages in front of a lot of people and getting the exposure necessary... there's not many bigger than that."


LB Kyle Van Noy's game-winning heroics were honored earlier Monday as he received the inaugural FBS Independent Defensive Player of the Week Award.

The weekly awards are new this year, and will be voted on by a nationwide media panel to recognize the top offensive, defensive and special teams performances among players at the four independent FBS programs: Army, BYU, Navy and Notre Dame.


Courtesy the University of Texas Football website, here are a collection of BYU-related quotes from head coach Mack Brown and players on Monday--

Mack Brown:

"We've played Brigham Young twice. They've beaten us both times. They're a great program. They've had ten wins in four of the last five years. They've been to 29 Bowl games. They won a National Championship in 1984. They were 7 and 6 last year. They won five out of their last six ballgames, and the one loss in that run was to Utah by one point. So we feel like that they've got a great team coming in.They went on the road in the heat, in the south, and beat Southeastern Conference Ole Miss 14-13, and they were down 13-0 going into the fourth quarter.

Bronco Mendenhall is one of the great true young coaches that's out there. He's a young man that I like. He's a tough, defensive football coach and they have a tough team.

You talk about their offense, it's very physical. You look at their offensive line, there's two juniors and two seniors on it that are 6'6", 300, 310, 322 and 330 [lbs], and they are very,very physical. They will come after you and most of those are up for national awards. Jake Heaps is the quarterback, and he was the No. 1 quarterback in the country a couple years ago and very accurate, and they've always done a great job with their passing game. JJ Di Luigi is an outstanding tailback, and like our offense, they move him all over the place. He'll be split. He'll be flexed. He'll be tight, and he's a very physical runner. They have a great scheme, and they're very balanced.

Defensively they're really well-coached. They run to the ball. They will hit you. I think they knocked three Ole Miss tailbacks out of the game Saturday afternoon. They held Ole Miss to only 57 plays on offense and 208 yards. So it's a real challenge for our offense. They run a multiple look on defense like we do, 43, 34. They did score a defensive touchdown, and they held the ball for 34 minutes and 37 seconds against Ole Miss.

So this will be like an old-fashioned street fight. It'll be very physical. We've been concerned about how tough we were in both lines of scrimmage the last couple years. This game will be about the lines of scrimmage. It's going to be about who's the toughest. It's a great test for us before we get ready to go to UCLA for a very similar game and then get ready for conference play."


On BYU's offense:

"Yes, Brigham Young for years, with Norm Chow and that offense way back, they won the National Championship in '84. You start looking at those things - LaVell Edwards was the head of the passing game many, many years ago, and they're still doing the same concepts. [BYU head coach] Bronco [Mendenhall] is a guy who loves Brigham Young...they're back to the old Brigham Young stuff, except I think they're running the ball better. And they only had 116 yards rushing on Saturday, but they can get open and their concepts are tremendous."


On if BYU will test the cornerbacks more this week:

"Yes, they will. Brigham Young will throw the ball deep, and we felt like our secondary played well. hat was one thing as we go back and look at it. We only had two three-and-outs, the first one and then one with a second team defense at the end of the game. Rice moved the ball better than we would have liked, and that's something we've got to do is have more three-and-outs or force some more turnovers on Saturday or Brigham Young will keep the ball."


RB Fozzy Whittaker--


"BYU, they're very experienced. They have a lot of people returning on offense and on defense. Guys that are juniors and seniors. Guys that have already played before, and you know, they're a great program, and it's something that we look forward to this year, just playing them. I know it'll be an all-out brawl, and just seeing where we really stand."

On playing big non-conference games:

"They're very important, just playing against a program that has the caliber [of] BYU, you know it's going to be a good time for us. You know it's going to be another test that we have to face to see what we need [to improve.]"

On getting a good start to the season:

"I think it's very important for us to have a good start, especially this week coming up. BYU, they're going to come in. They're very happy they're coming off their first win against Ole Miss, hard-fought victory for them, and it's going to be a hard game for us. And just being able to play here once with our fans in our backyard, it's going to be a good time for us."


LB Keenan Robinson--

On the game against BYU being a big non-conference game:

"Any game we play that's nonconference is definitely a big game for us because it's a chance for us to play against teams that we usually don't get to play against and make a point for our conference.

We're representing for the Big 12 right now, and as a team, we want to come out and win against any opponent, but definitely a team like BYU who we might not get a chance to play ever again. They're a team that, since I've been here and been around, we haven't got a chance to play, so I'm very excited. It's a new opponent that's on the schedule this year, and I definitely can't wait to Saturday to play this team [that's] going to try to run the ball. But at the same time they're an air-raid passing team and they have big guys outside, receivers, that can make big plays on the field. We're going to have to be fundamentally sound in the running game and the pass game and step it up from last year."


On what effect BYU's versatility on offense has on him:

"Mentally it's just make sure we have our keys, I guess. Our run keys, our pass keys, all that. You've got to play physically fast down here. We need to stop the run first. Once we stop the run, then we can work on stopping the pass. Then we can make them one-sided and make them one-dimensional. And once we do that, then we can start getting after the quarterback and start making plays in the passing game."


QB Garrett Gilbert:

On the toughness of BYU's defense:

"You know, they gave up 200 yards to Ole Miss, and on the road did a really great job. So we're going to have our hands full. We're going to have to be very sharp, go into it with a good plan. I think everyone knows that they're going to be a very good defense who's going to be very physical. So we're looking forward to the challenge."


On if BYU will have their hand full with Texas' offense:

"When you do a lot of different stuff personnel-wise, obviously it's difficult to prepare for. But you know, as an offense, we're really concerned about ourselves. Obviously we're going to be looking at a great challenge in their defense, so all we're concerned about is going out and executing our own plan."


On the game against BYU being a big non-conference game:

"It's fun. It's really fun. Getting to play a team like BYU with all the history they have, all the tradition they have. It'll be a lot of fun for us. So I think it's something that everyone will be looking forward to. Like you said, national TV is always fun, but it'll be really fun for us to play a program like BYU."


OL Tray Allen--


"BYU has history. BYU is a great team. They have a big defensive front. They're veterans. They've won their last ten games for the last however many years. That's a big credit to them and their coaches. They're doing a really good job up there, and we can't take them lightly when we go play them on Saturday.

We're going to get to the drawing board today and look at the film and start breaking it down and get ready for practice this week, and then next week, and then on Saturday have a good game. I'm looking forward to the game. I'm ready to have all the blue marks and the paint chipping off of my helmet. A physical game. Getting back to the physical running game that Texas is known for, and establishing our identity this year, and we're having fun with it."


LB Emmanuel Acho--

On preparing for BYU's offense:

"I think they're very skilled offensively...they have a very experienced offensive line and a great quarterback. So now we've just got to get back in the film room. It's going to be a hardfought game. Just got to get back in the film room and prepare."


On what it means to play a big non-conference game:

"It's a big test. You like to have that kind of test early on in the season so you can see where you are as a team. If you don't challenge yourself early on, you might have a false sense of hope, a false sense of reality. We have to prepare well, and it's going to be a big game, going to be a big test for us. But after that game we'll kind of know where we stand a little bit."


On if he is concerned about BYU running up the middle:

"Not really, because in watching the film, when [Rice] did that, it was off a missed assignment. So not really too concerned about that."


On BYU QB Jake Heaps:

"I've seen some of his statistics. I got to watch the first half of the Ole Miss BYU game and saw some of him from last year, but I've heard a lot about him. Haven't been able to see firsthand. But when you hear about a great young quarterback, you've just got to try to do something to confuse him, try to do something to get in his head. So I am going to try to watch some film, see his tendencies and just go off that."


On if he assumes Heaps is good because of the reputation of QB's at BYU:

"That is kind of an assumption you make and you have to prepare for him to be the best. But at the same time that just makes you step your game up one more notch, and that just makes us work that much harder."


Safety Blake Gideon--

On how to prepare for BYU:

"You prepare for every team the same amount. If anything, we probably had a chance to prepare for Rice more because they were the first game, and we started digging into their offense a little bit week two of camp. You have to give every team the same amount of respect, and they have a lot of great athletes at BYU. If we're not sound in our technique and our fundamentals then they can exploit us."


On if he thinks of Steve Young and Jim McMahon when he thinks of BYU:

"Well, I don't think either of those two guys still play there, but they do have a history of having great offensive teams, putting points on the board in different ways. I think they're great at doing it behind the personnel they have. Obviously they have a monstrous offensive line this year, so you know, whenever you're blessed with that kind of size, then you're going to want to run behind those guys. From what I've seen, they're multiple. They can run the ball from a oneback set, twoback set, and they can also take shots. So we're going to have to be disciplined and sound with our guys on the back end."


On if facing veteran, older players is a bigger challenge:

"I think it becomes more of a chess match whenever it's an older team playing against an older team. You know, there's not so much someone counting on just 'out-athleting' you. It's going to be more of the thinking game, and you know, us kind of playing with the quarterback's eyes in the back end and showing him different looks and trying to get him to check to something and then us checking to a different coverage. That's the main thing whenever you're playing against an older team, an older offense, that they're able to make those checks and they're not going to get freaked out by 100,000 fans or whatever movement we're showing."



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Greg Wrubell


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