Bronco Mendenhall quotes

Just a few days away from opening the 2006 season against the Arizona Wildcats, head football coach Bronco Mendenhall discusses Saturday's game at the weekly media luncheon at Legends Grille.

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Opening Comments:

"Good afternoon. It's a pleasure to be with you on the first press conference of this season. I'm optimistic about our team, our future and the direction this program is moving. After a second place finish last year and postseason play that serves simply as a baseline for my first year as a head coach, we look to improve, to do better and to continue moving this program toward the standards that are acceptable here at BYU. We're anxious to play a football against anyone. We feel good about the opponent that we have and are anxious to play in the state of Arizona. We have tremendous fan support there and know it's a quality opponent. From my understanding it's a sell-out crowd, a great atmosphere and we're looking forward to it. So with that what questions might I answer?"

Q: Do you see similarities between your program and Arizona's?

BM: "You know I can't speak for Arizona's program other than what I see with in their program. It is a program that is gaining maturity, poise and seems to be on the verge of a break through from what my assessment is. I certainly can't speak for their tradition, their expectations there and it probably isn't fair to either program to have the coaches compare the programs. I'm sure both programs and coaches will do their best on Saturday to start their seasons respectively."

Q: Can you talk about the history you have with Mike Canales?

BM: My first coaching opportunity was at Snow Community College and I was the defensive coordinator and Mike Canales was the offensive coordinator. We worked together for two seasons that were very successful years. I have a lot of respect for not only his intellect but he coaches with a lot of enthusiasm and emotion. His coaching career has been well documented and I think the places he's coached runs credibility to his value and what he brings to his staff. I specifically remember on Wednesday nights at his house we would get together for spaghetti down in Ephraim. I remember that from a long time ago, it was about 15 or 16 years ago."

Q: Is there any indicator that the Defense has improved over last year?

BM: "I think the indicators have been the last two scrimmages. The offense found it very difficult to score in those two situations. Certainly time will tell, the volume of plays and the performance under pressure that these players play at will tell us. I like the direction, the use of personnel and the scheme emphasis with in our talent base. That part of it allows me to rest a little at night. How they execute and perform Saturday night only time will tell."

Q: Does the first game require anymore tweaking than others at halftime of during the game?

BM: "The most tweaking happens before the season having to essentially prepare for everything. Things change in the off season and you can never be quite certain what competitive advantage an opponent will try to use that might be different from what they currently show even with an entire season. Nor do you really know with a new personnel mixed in what to expect. Certainly there are more things to consider as a season opener, but both teams have the same things to consider so you do the best you can."

Q: What do you say to fans that ask are the defensive backs different than last year?

BM: "I would say watch them play. A lot of this is nice to talk about and fun to talk about before we get into the opener. They have been used in the correct manner, the scheme matches their ability and they're being coached at a high level. A lot can be said for experience and a lot can be said for what it takes to be prepared. Sometimes a year's worth of 12 games, getting beat and making plays helps contribute to a higher performance for the next season and that's what we hope for this year."

Q: Can you give us an assessment of what you see in Willie Tuitama the quarterback?

BM: "What I've seen is a team that responds to him. I sense a different chemistry, emotion and energy that the team plays with when he became the quarterback. There were young and inexperience mistakes that he made. However, there seems to be a natural charisma and presence that he has. That is how all good quarterbacks are. I expect a lot of improvement to be made from the experience of looking back at last year, through an off-season of study and now just knowing he's the starter. Quite frankly the coordinator will be able to tailor things that he'll be able to do well. So we expect even an improved quarterback for the opener from where he finished last season."

Q: Physically is he a runner or more of a thrower?

BM: "More of a thrower. He's certainly not afraid to scramble but I wouldn't consider mobility his strength. A core part of their offense is play action, boot and getting out of the pocket. It's not necessarily to scramble down field, but they aren't afraid to get him out of the pocket. He seems to be large enough and durable enough to withstand a few blitzes and certainly hasn't proven to be injury prone or afraid of contact."

Q: Defensively what are Arizona's strengths? Is it their D-line, the linebackers or their secondary?

BM: "The secondary is their strength. Their scheme is sound and they're coached at a high level. The premiere match-up could be our ability to throw the ball against their secondary. I'm sure both sides are anxious for that match up and how it will play out. I really have a lot of respect for their talent running around in the back there."

Q: With a senior quarterback how important is this season with the development of Bronco Mendenhall's program?

BM: "With a senior quarterback comes increased expectation. In my second year even though there wasn't a conference championship in the first year I think there are increased expectations. Our starting quarterback and I as the head coach both feel the same. It's not a burden or something to back down from. It's a sign of hope and confidence in what fans and possibly others have seen in one year working here together. I think we are both determined to do better and I think we are both capable of doing better."

Q: Can you talk about the challenge the Mountain West Conference has playing PAC-10 teams like you and Utah?

BM: "To address the philosophy of scheduling there has to be balance and with balance comes national exposure. It also measures your team with quality opponents. In comparison to the PAC-10, Big Ten and Big 12 on a consistent basis, the MWC will be viewed infearly towards those teams. Once those teams are scheduled and beaten on a consistent basis by teams in our league then we will be viewed differently. Our program and a few others in our league are capable of doing that and welcome that challenge. Addressing that we know that postseason play was determined by in-season play and preseason play. Every coach in our conference sees that and wants to have a number of those teams to measure yourself up against to make a statement of who you are. There are other games that you use to make sure your team is healthy, win and carry momentum into the conference and I think balance is the answer."

Q: Arizona utilizes a zone blitz. Could you tell us what that is and what problems it presents?

BM: "A zone blitz is designed to keep the ball in front of you to match up after the play is determined to be able to have leverage rather that put as much risk and potential big plays on your secondary. It requires more coordination once the play has been snapped to find your match ups and to provide the leverage necessary. The pressure itself is similar as man pressure. If zone blitzes are done correctly with the ball thrown on time, usually underneath, the catch and tackle approach is used and very few big plays happen. If the pressure is not effective seams are created because every zone blitz has seems and then there are risks. Zones are only effective as the pressure is designed to be the protection."

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