Ready for a "Rocky" Reunion...



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Bronco Mendenhall met the media in an uneventful recapping of last week's win and preview of this week's matchup with SDSU.

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The coach opened by calling last week's 59-21 dismantling of UNLV "a complete win," then advanced the meeting with the "improved" Aztecs by applauding SDSU's "effort" and "resiliency."

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He noted that he has a personal background with three Aztec coaches: head coach Brady Hoke (under whom Bronco served as a graduate assistant at Oregon State), defensive coordinator Rocky Long (who as head coach at New Mexico hired Mendenhall as defensive coordinator) and tight ends/special teams teams coach Dan Ferrigno (also on the staff with Mendenhall at Oregon State).

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Noting that SDSU is coming off a bye, Bronco noted Rocky Long's reputation and record when having an extra week to prepare while at New Mexico. Mendenhall thinks that Long's ability to properly implement bye week preparation will assist the Aztecs' defense and represent an "advantage" to have had an extra week before facing against BYU.

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Bronco said five special teams players were held out of the UNLV game due to injury, and acknowledged that personnel shuffles probably "contributed" to the one breakdown on the Rebels' kickoff return for touchdown.

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Responding to a question about last week's dismissal of Shiloah Te'o, Bronco reiterated the timeline surrounding the decision, and stated that "if a player lies to me, that's grounds for dismissal."

The coach says the program's disciplinary "philosophy has been sound, solid and consistent," and has resulted in a "level of conduct" that is "probably the highest ever, at BYU", in part because "players will tell me the truth."

Mendenhall says he hopes others in the community will let him know if and when his players are involved in questionable activity, "if they know for sure." In the Te'o case, Bronco said that "for some reason, the information never got to me."

Bronco says once he was made aware of the Te'o situation, he "I acted fairly, appropriately, and quickly."

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Jo Jo Pili was on the field at UNLV because FB Anthony Heimuli did not travel to Las Vegas and was limited to scout team work, due to academic issues last week. The coach says Heimuil's academic status is "the same" this week, and Bronco mentioned that there are a handful of players whose grades he is monitoring, and who could be prohibited from practice until and unless their grades improve. Bronco says "most" of Heimuli's classes "are in good shape now," but "one or two others could be better."

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Relative to the injuries suffered by FS Scott Johnson (ankle) and FB Manase Tonga (knee) at UNLV, Bronco said he is not sure of their playing status for SDSU. He mentioned that both could be out for "possibly one week," but clearly wasn't ready to make a definitive call, since he had not seen an updated report. On this morning's "Coach's Corner" on KSL Newsradio, the coach said the players "could miss a week, or no time at all." In the same interview, he said it is hoped NT Russell Tialavea will return from a knee sprain this week.

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About SDSU WR Vincent Brown (3rd nationally in receiving yards per game; 11th nationally in receptions per game), Bronco said "he can...make you pay," and that with Brown, "points can go on the board in a hurry...any time, any way, on any given play." He says Brown represents a "dilemma" for BYU and all teams who scheme to stop SDSU.

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Bronco says it took only as few clips of film to see the effect Rocky Long has had on the SDSU defense. He says you can see it in "players running as fast as they can to the ball, jumping over piles to get there, gang tackling, interceptions, forced turnovers, and just chaos in general...and that's who Rocky is."

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You can hear all of Bronco's comments and group interviews with Coleby Clawson, Jan Jorgensen, Andrew George and Brett Denney in the "Cougar Cuts" box to the upper right.

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