PROVO -- As one can imagine- much of the talk during Wednesday night's "Bronco Mendenhall Show" on KSL Newsradio was squarely focused on Saturday's rivalry game against the University of Utah.
Here's a bullet point breakdown of Coach Mendenhall's comments.
- Coach calls it important for the team and staff to focus on preparing for the BYU-Utah game itself, and not get wrapped up in all the surrounding hype. In his five years as head coach, Bronco has learned the perspective of the rivalry can't come from friends and neighbors due to how "captured" and "emotional" everyone gets about the game. Mendenhall feels it is crucial to insulate the players because they are bombarded by family and others, reminding the players how important the game is and making sure they really want to win it. "We acknowledge that we know all that," Mendenhall said.
- Coach says that the rivalry game no longer only has the local spotlight shining on it because the Cougars and the Utes have been two of the best programs in the country on a yearly basis. Despite the lack of BCS and Mountain West Conference implications, Bronco points out that not many rivals play each other with both school ranked in the top-20, and with impressive 9-2 records. Coach says, "That in and of itself is a fantastic match-up."
- Mendenhall believes that with BYU, TCU and Utah having to go through each other every season in order to win the MWC trophy, the conference should be considered "the highest level of football in the country." He said having the winner of the conference go to the BCS, then win the bowl game, is showing the rest of the country that the MWC deserves an automatic BCS bid. "It won't take much more history that we're making, and consistency, to say, ‘Not only do we have a team capable of playing but a team that goes there and will win," Bronco said. "How many more years that has to be done, we'll see, but we're making a compelling argument."
- Bronco said it is important to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks, and to prevent BYU's quarterbacks from being pressured. Disrupting the QB makes easy for the defense to get out of 3rd downs and changes momentum.
- Mendenhall touted Brian Logan as playing "the best season of field corner at BYU since I became head coach." He added that Logan is excellent at tackling, coverage and playing the ball. Coach also praised Logan's work ethic, enthusiasm for the game and high football IQ. Mendenhall expects Utah to go after Logan, with their two great receivers (David Reed and Jereme Brooks), but believes Logan to be up for the challenge.
- Like BYU, Utah's identity is tied to the head coach more than anyone else. Even with new offensive and defensive coordinators, Coach says Utah has only made a few slight changes from the last few years.
- Bronco noted that quarterback Jordan Wynn can throw the ball downfield effectively, so he looks for Utah to try throwing the ball over the top more than they typically do.
- Coach Mendenhall knows it is inevitable some of his assistants will move on to other jobs. They have earned the right to move somewhere where they will have more responsibility and make more money. With his current staff having been intact for so long, he thinks changes in his staff could happen soon. Bronco keeps list of coaches he sees who impress him so he has a starting point when he does need to hire a replacement. He added that it is important for the coaches who do stay to "continue to grow to stay ahead of the program's growth."
- With the hard work and leadership the senior class has provided, he would like to see them go out with a win in their last time playing in LaVell Edwards Stadium. Bronco has been impressed with not only how many games the seniors have won, but how they have represented themselves. He feels that they have impacted his life, and his family, as much as he has influenced them.
Story compiled with information from Greg Wrubell and Lee Horton.