Estimated read time: 4-5 minutes
LaVell Edwards Stadium sits idle until next football season, but the stadium's President's Loge remains the site for KSL Newsradio's weekly broadcast of "BYU Football with Head Coach with Bronco Mendenhall."
Wednesday night, Mendenhall and player Robbie Buckner joined Greg Wrubell, Marc Lyons and BYU fans as the Cougars prepare for Saturday's visit to San Jose State.
The Cougars' trip to warmer (if wetter) weather this week follows a frigid home finale against Idaho. BYU will be taking on a tough Spartans squad trying to prove that its 8-2 record is not a fluke.
After defeating the Vandals 52-13 on Senior Night, and earning their sixth win of the season, the Cougars became bowl-eligible for the eighth year in a row. Even though bowl eligibility is becoming a common occurrence for BYU, Coach Mendenhall still views it as an accomplishment.
"[Being bowl-eligible] is one of the benchmarks," said Mendenhall, "At BYU, with the expectations we have here, that really is one of the minimum standards and so it does matter to me that we go every single year and it does matter to me that we win."
The Cougars have won five of their last six bowl appearances, the most recent postseason victory coming against Tulsa in last year's Armed Forces Bowl.
During the first half of the Idaho game BYU went up quickly, 42-10. Bronco said, "For a quarter and a half, it was as clean and as good as our offense has played this year."
The only notable injury that was sustained during the game last week was a bruise to the knee of running back Jamaal Williams, who has since said he is healed up and ready to go.
If BYU wins this week at San Jose State, the Cougars will reach the seven-victory mark, which will mean another winning season for Coach Mendenhall and the Cougars. While this is a great short-term accomplishment, Bronco views it as another building block towards his end goal.
"Building something of enduring greatness is my goal here I'd like to contribute as Coach Edwards did to once you're gone it can continue even without you," said Bronco, "I care a lot about this program, I care a lot about the kids that are here, I care a lot about the mission of the school."
If the Cougars win out, including the bowl game, they will end the season 9-4. After a rocky start to the season, Coach Mendenhall believes his team can hit that mark.
"Nine wins is possible and that's something that matters a lot to our players and our seniors," said Mendenhall, "If they can prepare well for the next three weeks and get nine wins then that would be a really nice finish for them."
San Jose State may be revenge-minded after losing to BYU in Provo last season, 29-16. What was originally viewed by some as a 'gimme' game has quickly become a "signature game" according to Coach Mendenhall.
Bronco remembers the matchup last season as a good one. "That team that year would have competed very well in the Mountain West Conference each of the years that I had coached in the Mountain West."
After seeing which players have returned from last year's SJSU squad, Bronco said, "It doesn't surprise me that they're doing what they're doing this year."
The eight-win Spartans are averaging 325.8 yards through the air and while BYU's run defense is among the greatest in the country, the secondary has shown occasional vulnerability and is now thin with the absences of safeties Mike Hague (injury) and Joe Sampson (suspension/withdrawal).
Cornerback and player guest Robbie Buckner joined the show to talk with KSL about his impressive performance against Idaho and his career overall.
Following the single-game suspension of field corner Jordan Johnson, Buckner was assigned to fill the void. Being Senior Night for BYU, the moment was fitting for him to take the field as a starter for his last home game as a BYU Cougar. "I'm going to remember it for the rest of my life," he said.
Buckner's first interception as a Cougar came in the second quarter on a spectacular defensive play but it could have very well been his second INT as he dropped a ball thrown right at him earlier in the game. "It was the easiest one I've ever had in my life," said Buckner.
Regarding the second chance at an interception, Buckner said, "I got lucky and got a tipped pass, tipped it twice, and ended up catching it," he said, "I was super happy."
The fact that Buckner has been able to make his way back onto the team following a bout with testicular cancer is nothing short of a miracle. He views it as proof that he "can overcome hard things."
You can hear all of last night's show by clicking on the audio link in "Cougar Cuts," above left.