BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall answers questions covering the whole gamut

Brigham Young Cougars head coach Bronco Mendenhall fielded questions about the offense, defense, the bye week, this week’s opponent, injuries, recruiting, Senior Day, and individual players after the team’s practice on Monday.

Q. The offense has made strides in the last few games, what has led to that?

A. Just more balance and consistency and being able to run the football and throw it with fewer turnovers is really helpful. I think that is really the core of what is happening is balance and consistency with fewer turnovers.

Q. Can you talk about the strides the defense has made after Notre Dame to Georgia Tech?

A. I thought they played really hard at Notre Dame. There was one or two plays they didn’t make. Seventeen points is still a reasonable amount to have a great chance to win the game. Against Georgia Tech, that was one of the best defensive performances against the option I have ever seen or been part of. I was really proud of them. It is a fun group to be with every week. It matters a lot to them. They work really hard, and I have been lucky to coach them so far this year.

Q. What areas can the defense improve?

A. They have been really consistent all year long. I guess I would go to really the only team that had success against them was Oregon State. That would be max protection and really good receivers running through our zones. If there was been anything, and really the only thing, that’s worked so far, that would probably be it. I think we have addressed that since then, and that game seems like a long time ago, but if I had to give you something, that would be it.

Q. Is getting to No. 1 in total defense a realistic goal for this defense?

A. I think anything is realistic for them. They are proven to be capable in just about every category if you look statistically. I don’t spend a ton of time on that, but I think they have really high goals and expectations and I wouldn’t put anything by them right now

Bye Week
Q. Did anything stand out from the bye week?

A. They are anxious to play already. That’s a good sign. It wasn’t hard to get them going. They were anxious to practice, anxious to get back to work and anxious to really finish strong.

This week’s opponent: Idaho
Q. Can you imagine being a head coach at 33 years old like Idaho’s interim head coach Jason Gesser?

A. No. I am not sure how old I was, but 33 seems really young. It is a good way to learn and great responsibility and a neat opportunity. Man, I hope he enjoys it if he can.

Q. Can you talk about the matchup with Idaho?

A. Idaho is a team that has struggled with consistency on both offense and defense. In stretches they show capability and then they have had issues turning over the football and maintaining a high level of execution from the beginning of a game to the end of the game. I think that has been their biggest challenge.

Q. Any update on Braden Hansen coming back for this game?

A. I don’t know yet. Hopefully he will, but probably too early to say for sure.

Q. How was the bye week in regards to players’ health?

A. We focused hard on it. From what I saw today, they looked fresh and ready to practice. I can’t say there was just a slew of players coming back in, but the ones we had looked fresher and a little bit more healthy.

Q. How was progress in recruiting over the last week?

A. We are in really good shape recruiting. We still have a few pieces to finish up with the offensive line issues that we have had. Our finding pool has been really good, and we’ve made a lot of progress. I am really comfortable with where we sit right now. There are still a few pieces have to land or come in, but it was a really productive week.

Senior Day
Q. Anything special or things you’re looking forward to or planning with your seniors at the game?

A. It’s a little big different format. Normally, I am able to be with them after the game. With an 8:15 p.m. start that is going to be really late. So, we will honor them more pregame, and then what I do with them after the game we will do at our banquet this year.

Individual Players
Q. Does Jamaal Williams have the makings of a marquee running back for the future?

A. I would say from the early signs, yes. He is still really young, just 17 years old and has a lot of work still to do. The way he runs the football, the confidence he runs it with, the physical nature he runs it with is really nice start for a true freshman. I would say at this point, yeah.

Q. Bronson Kaufusi would like to play some basketball after football season is over, any early thoughts on that?

A. Not really any early thoughts. It’s really hard to be good at just one sport let alone two. I would say that just as a blanket statement. Very few guys are capable of playing two. It’s really premature to even consider it or talk about it. Maybe after the bowl game we can consider it.

Q. Can you talk about the maturation of Kyle Van Noy on and off the field?

A. It is a remarkable thing. He is absolutely honest and trustworthy. He makes mistakes like the rest of us, but who he has become is something to be proud of. I have been and am lucky to work with him.

Q. Van Noy came back from an injury during the offseason, was there any concern that he wouldn’t come back from that?

A. Kyle is one of the toughest players I have ever coached. No. 1, that injury happened in the TCU game, and he didn’t tell anyone—not the trainers or me. Then, he comes in after the season and says ‘I think my shoulder’s hurt.’ It was a torn labrum against TCU. If you don’t ask him, he’s not going to tell you, and he loves to play and isn’t going to come out of a game no matter how hurt he is. He’s really tough.”

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