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Head Coach Bronco Mendenhall talked about his goals for this Saturday's game against Idaho State and Offensive Coordinator Brandon Doman spoke on backup quarterback Jake Heaps' role at a media session following Tuesday afternoon's practice.
Mendenhall said the sole object of his team's focus was on the matchup against Idaho State, where BYU hopes to fulfill its goal to "reach its potential."
"This game," explained Mendenhall, "is about our team reaching our potential, which I think we're improving. I think we're gaining momentum. But we have a ways to go to be as good as we can be."
Asked about whether the team's practice focus was more on Idaho State or next week's game against more formidable TCU, the coach responded, "Idaho State, no doubt. To look any farther than just practicing well on Tuesday, which was our goal today, would be a mistake."
You can hear post-practice interviews with Mendenhall, Doman and quarterback Riley Nelson in "Cougar Cuts," above left.
Asked if younger and less-experienced players—-including quarterback Jake Heaps—-will have a chance to play against Idaho State, Doman said:
"I haven't thought about younger players. Really, I'm pleased with where we've arrived to at this point, but we've still got about seven gates to get through before we can arrive at the right location."
"I want to use the guys that will help us play up to our potential. We haven't arrived there yet, and if it's against Idaho State, great. But that's the number one goal right now: to reach our potential."
More from Doman—
On the lessons that Heaps is learning as a backup quarterback:
"There will be some different lessons that (Jake) is going to learn now than he was able to learn as a starter. There are certain things that he's going to learn in this particular situation that you cannot fabricate elsewhere."
"(Jake) is in the middle of a tough situation. It's a part of life. Things don't always go right for you… I think Jake right now is facing a wall, and it's an opportunity for him to climb over it. It's not a wall that you can't climb over. Maybe you can take a sledgehammer and knock it down, but he's gotta get through it somehow."
"I believe he'll overcome it and learn the lessons that are otherwise unattainable."
On the differences between Heaps and starting QB Riley Nelson:
"They're significant. I think that the spectators can see that even the styles of play are entirely different with Jake and Riley. The level of maturity is different."
"Riley has been in college football for four years, now. He's been around Max (Hall), he's been around Jake, he's been around all the different leaders that you can think of. There's just a different level of maturity."
"Jake hasn't had that chance yet. He hasn't had the chance to mature through years of experience."
On RB Michael Alisa's emergence as a force in BYU's ground attack:
"I'm so glad he's at running back. I'm glad that he's emerged. Two weeks ago I came to him before the game and I said, ‘I'm going to personnel you in for two runs.' And he rushed for (91) yards. So he's done a phenomenal job, sprinting through the opportunity. Some guys do that. Some guys gets the opportunity and they're so ready and so prepared, that when they get that chance they sprint right through it. That's what Michael has done maybe as good as anybody I've seen in my coaching career here."
"He still has a long ways to go with manipulating some of the runs. But you're watching him and he'll stretch a run or he'll increase and get vertical. He gets on those safeties before they get on him. And as the game gets rolling, they're less anxious to come up and meet him, and that's how Harvey (Unga, former BYU RB) got so many extra yards."
"We didn't do that for five games (before Alisa began playing). We had to call for a run, block it for four (yards), and get four. And that's hard. But now to be able to call for a run, block it for four, and get eight, we become hard to defend. And that's what's happening in our offense right now."
Nelson, the announced starter for this Saturday, echoed his coach's response to whether he was more focused on Idaho State or TCU: "Idaho State, no doubt. A team every year loses to a I-AA (FCS) program. We don't want to be that team."
Speaking about how his team's recent performance will affect Saturday's game, Nelson said, "Last week was a good game. Our point totals keep going up. It's two games in a row now that we've set season-highs for points and yards. So we obviously want to build up on that. So if we keep increasing our number of points and decrease the number of turnovers and mistakes, we will be happy with the amount of games that we win."
BYU's keys to beating Idaho State, according to Doman and Nelson:
1) Create a physical run game
2) Secure the football
3) Make plays in one-on-one situations
BYU will play Idaho State University this Saturday at 1:00pm at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo. Tune into KSL Radio 1160 AM, 102.7 FM, BYU Radio (SiriusXM 143) or ksl.com, starting with pregame coverage at 11:00am.