On his radio show last night, Bronco Mendenhall said the Cougars are "gaining momentum and gaining confidence" heading into Saturday night's meeting with UNLV in Las Vegas.
I invite you to listen to the entire "Bronco Mendenhall Show," but here's the weekly show recap--
: regarding the dismissal of safety Shiloah Te'o, Bronco called it "saddening and frustrating," and that he "chose and was not forced" to make the decision. He said Te'o was given the "direct opportunity to tell the truth" and failed to do so. The coach says the outcome could gave been prevented by taking accountability. Bronco noted that Te'o is the first player he has released from the program.
: in Te'o's absence, Bronco will depend on Craig Bills to give BYU a "three to play two" rotation. Should Andrew Rich go out, Scott Johnson would slide over to Kat, and Bills would come in at Free; should Johnson go down, Bills would step in at Free while Rich would remain at Kat.
Steven Thomas would ideally be the next safety in (at Kat or Free), but since Thomas has yet to be cleared (concussion), Travis Uale is for the time being the backup Kat, for depth chart purposes. Freshman Jray Galea'i (also a safety) has not played this season and will have his potential redshirt season preserved; Bronco says once four games are in the books and a player has not seen action, the coach will not consider using that player, barring unusual circumstances.
: relative to UNLV, Bronco says the Rebels play well at home, move the ball well on offense, and that BYU is preparing for a game similar to the meeting last year in Provo (won by BYU 42-35). Mendenhall calls the Rebels "certainly capable."
: Bronco says last week's win over Utah State featured two positive developments: an improving run game and more effective containment of mobile opposing quarterbacks.
: Bronco pointed to Harvey Unga's increasing workload, noting his "rhythm" and "confidence" are generating more production. Despite playing only three and a half of five games, Unga leads the MWC in total rushing yards and rushing yards per game. In fact, Utah's Matt Asiata (who is out for the season) is in second place after only three and a half games of work.
: as for the fact Unga has only one reception this season (after 44 and 42 catches in his first two seasons), Bronco said it is not lost on the coaching staff, and that "we're realizing (Unga catching the ball) has to be a bigger role," and that it "wouldn't be surprising if he sees the ball distributed to him a little bit more out of the backfield."
: asked by an e-mailer if suggestions from outside the program are ever constructive, Bronco said that there are "articulate and intelligent people that care about the program and are trying to help," and that in "any given year, three or four ideas end up helping, that we incorporate."
:asked by a texter about McKay Jacobson's hamstring injury and the four-to-six week time window, Bronco said he hopes it's "more four-ish rather than six-ish."
: Bronco listed Mark Weber's coaching and the "program maturity" as the two main factors in the offensive line's impressive showing this season, saying it's "pretty remarkable" that the offense has had the success it's having with four new offensive linemen.
: the coach says Washington went about canceling the back half of its four-year series with BYU "the correct way." He says he's not "enamored" of scheduling Pac-10 teams, since the MWC's current bowl arrangement lines the league up with Pac-10 teams on an annual basis already, and those bowl meetings are kind of "like another league" game, considering BYU's recent slate of Pac-10 contests.
: Bronco listed the ACC and Big East as primary "target conferences" for non-league games, considering BYU's competition with those leagues for automatic BCS qualification. He also added that he "likes the Big 10," and "possibly continuing with the Big 12." Bronco listed Northwestern as a specific school he finds intriguing, in addition to the two eastern military academies.
: Mendenhall said unlike "most of the coaches" he knows, he has the final say on scheduling. He says AD Tom Holmoe will bring potential matchups to him, and he will "either say yes or no," or pursue further discussion on potential schedule additions.
: Bronco said Florida State playing well this season "would make me feel a little bit better," since BYU lost to the Seminoles. He reiterated that he believed BYU could beat Florida State, and intimated that the inconsistent Seminole team we're seeing now (2-3 on the year) is the team he saw on tape heading into the BYU game.
: alluding to TCU's practice of equipping a dummy in the weight room with a BYU helmet and jersey, Bronco said TCU knows "as many do, that the conference championship will go through BYU."