On last night's "Bronco Mendenhall Show," the coach of the Cougars looked ahead to Saturday's showdown with TCU, updated us on the BYU H1N1 flu situation, and gave props to the home fans.
I encourage you to listen to the entire "Bronco Mendenhall Show," but here's the weekly show recap--
: referencing last year's 32-7 loss at TCU, the coach said in studying the game, there were three to five plays that helped determine the game's outcome, and that TCU "made every play, and we did not." He added that BYU "learned a lot" from that game; how much, "we'll find out" Saturday.
: he said the TCU game is "taxing mentally" for the BYU defense, given the Frogs' variance and diversity in offensive formations and personnel. He says "you can't allow it to slow you down, physically."
: regarding any news bells and whistles either team might introduce on Saturday, Bronco said "the team that varies the least will have the best chance." He said he believes the game will come down to "execution versus execution."
: noting that WR Jeremy Kerley ran the ball 9 times for 77 yards out of the "Wild Frog" formation in last year's meeting, Mendenhall said BYU was slow to recognize Kerley in the backfield and that once they became accustomed to the formation, he was less effective running the ball. The coach said "getting a running back to throw the football would be ideal."
: Bronco says ESPN College Gameday's presence is "quite a statement," saying the appearance was "earned" as the "best football game" and "most intriguing matchup" nationally. Mendenhall called the broadcast "a huge step in terms of credibility...our hope is that we play in a manner to keep it and maybe we get (College Gameday) back."
: relative to BYU's preference to defer won coin tosses, Bronco noted that BYU has yet to score when receiving the second half kickoff--a stat he used to validate his decision to start games on defense. He says he "likes the chance of making their offense execute right off the bat."
: Bronco says for the BYU offense, "the key (v. TCU) is balance."
: Seeing that BYU allowed 313 rush yards to Florida State, but only an average of 66 rush yards per game in BYU's six other games, Mendenhall said it was "my mistake for not focusing enough on (technique and fundamentals), and thinking we had to do 'scheme' that week."
: about trick plays and gadgets that opponents tend to employ against BYU, Bronco said teams "usually dig deeper in their preparation," given their traditional underdog status. He noted this will be one of the few times BYU is not favored to win.
: the coach said the NFL likes both tight ends Dennis Pitta and Andrew George, "for different reasons." Bronco confirmed that former backup QB Brenden Gaskins is essentially now a "flex" tight end, taking part in the tight end/inside receiver meetings, and having been taken out of the green jersey at practice.
: Mendenhall says BYU's weekly offensive and defensive game plans are set by Tuesday afternoon's meetings, and that the coaches "adjust very little" from that point forward. He said most other programs make adjustments through Thursday, but that BYU's plan allows for "more repetition and more efficiency."
: Bronco says it's "not an accident that we win so many (home) games, because of our fans." He says "our fans do a really nice job of annoying the opponent, in a respectful, classy, Christian manner." I must note that Bronco said this with a smile on his face, so don't think he was being self-righteous; he was being funny.
: the coach confirmed that Bryan Kariya, Brandon Bradley, Brett Denney and Shawn Doman all had the H1N1 flu last week, and that in all, 11 players were affected by the flu, but that all but two (Fono Vakalahi and Jameson Frazier) were back at practice yesterday. Bronco said "we're in better shape than the numbers sound like," and that the flu "is affecting us, but probably not to the level everyone is worried about." He did say "we're not shaking hands" this week.
: Mendenhall said a decision on WR McKay Jacobson's playing status "might go all the way to game time" on Saturday.
The following is a release that came out of MWC headquarters today:
Shreveport, La. - The AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl will feature an ACC-Mountain West matchup beginning in 2010, both conference and bowl officials announced on Thursday.
The third selection from the Mountain West Conference will meet the seventh selection from the Atlantic Coast Conference beginning in December of 2010 at Independence Stadium. The agreement with the two conferences runs through 2013.
The Independence Bowl's lengthy relationship with both the Big 12 and SEC will end after the conclusion of the 2009 game. Since 2006 the bowl has had the seventh selection from the Big 12 and the eighth selection from the SEC.
"We are excited about what the future holds for the AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl and feel our new conference partnerships with the ACC and Mountain West are a precursor to the growth and direction that is the primary goal of the leadership of our organization," said AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl Executive Director Missy Setters.
"AdvoCare is excited and honored to be involved with the Independence Bowl, and our new partnership with two premier conferences, the ACC and the Mountain West, will ensure the Independence Bowl has representatives from each conference in the coming years and the possibility of nationally ranked teams," said AdvoCare President and CEO Richard Wright. "We look forward to building relationships with both conferences."
The Mountain West celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2008-09 and had one of its finest seasons ever on the football field. The MWC sent five teams to bowl games for the second consecutive year.
Three MWC football teams were ranked all eight weeks of the BCS Standings, and finished the season in final top 25 polls, including two in the top 10, for the first time in league history. Utah's No. 2 and TCU's No. 7 ranking in the final polls marked the first time two teams from non-automatic-qualifying conferences have been ranked in the top 10 since 1984. TCU earned the ranking after defeating #9 Boise State, 17-16, in the 2008 Poinsettia Bowl. Utah entered the 2009 season with the nation's longest win streak at 14 games, after finishing the 2008 campaign with the nation's only undefeated mark at 13-0. With their 31-17 Sugar Bowl win over No. 4 Alabama, the Utes became the first team from a non-automatic qualifying BCS conference to win two BCS bowl games.
"The new affiliation with the AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl will support our conference's continued growth in a number of areas," said MWC Commissioner Craig Thompson. "The tradition and history of the bowl itself, with two of our institutions- Air Force and TCU, having played in past games, coupled with a recruiting area that is gaining more traction with our members, make this a very positive relationship. We have enjoyed competing against the Atlantic Coast Conference in the regular season and now look forward to a postseason matchup as well."
The Mountain West currently has three teams ranked in the BCS top 25 with TCU at eight, BYU at 16, and Utah in the 18th spot.
The ACC sent an NCAA record 10 teams to bowl games last year, including conference champion Virginia Tech making its third BCS bowl game appearance in five years.
Florida State has made five BCS appearances while Maryland and Wake Forest have each made an appearance in the FedEx Orange Bowl in the last seven years.
"The AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl is a welcome addition to the ACC Bowl lineup and we are excited about the partnership ahead," said ACC Commissioner John Swofford. "Shreveport has supported the bowl for years and consequently the Independence Bowl has a strong history and tradition in the college football post-season. Our ACC schools look forward to adding to that tradition."
The Atlantic Coast Conference also has three teams in the BCS rankings this week with Miami in the 10th spot, Georgia Tech at 12 and Virginia Tech at 14.
The Independence Bowl is no stranger to ACC teams, as it has hosted Clemson, Maryland, Virginia, Wake Forest and Virginia Tech since its inception in 1976, along with TCU and Air Force from the Mountain West.
"As we look to move the Advocare V100 Independence Bowl to the next level, I am thrilled that we have reached agreements with both the Atlantic Coast Conference and Mountain West Conference," said 2009 AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl chairwoman Toni Goodin. "We are extremely excited about our new relationships with the ACC and MWC and we look forward to a long partnership with both."
I stopped by the Richards Building for my weekly look-in on the BYU hoopsters (the Marriott Center is occupied with Homecoming festivities this week).
Jackson Emery and Tyler Haws were limited due to some minor bumps and bruises, while Brock Zylstra took an inadvertent elbow to the head that split open his ear, so the team's overall sharpness may have been somewhat hampered as a result of the lower head count. Otherwise, it was typically up-tempo practice, with Charles Abouo and Jonathan Tavernari standing out in the short time I spent observing the workout.
Former Cougar point guard and assistant coach Nate Call was on hand yesterday; Call is back in coaching, starting up the program at a new high school in Yorba Linda, CA. The team has only freshmen and sophomores this season, so Call will be the JV coach this season, then be the first varsity coach next season (coaching without any seniors).