Mendenhall's thoughts on Texas

Coach Mendenhall addressed the media following Wednesday's practice and addressed topics ranging from the types of Boise State gadget plays that are now a facet of the Texas offense, to what it will take to beat the Longhorns in Austin this Saturday.

Former Boise State offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin is in his first year calling plays for the Texas offense, and has brought with him a lot of gadgetry, twists and turns that the Cougar defense will have to account for.

"That's one of the reasons why Boise is so effective offensively," said Coach Mendenhall. "It's not the only reason; they do many, many things well and their offensive coordinator is responsible for that.

"There were a few already in their game against Rice and there will be a few against us. When they come and what they are, I don't know. Sound assignment football is really the best way to combat it."

Against Ole Miss, the Cougar defense forced the Rebels into a passing game, having completely taken away their SEC smash-mouth run game. The Cougar secondary seemed to struggle a bit and Coach Mendenhall expects there to be improvement. So, what does he expect them to improve on?

"Lot of concentration, great eye control, and they have to do a nice job of finishing routes," Mendenhall said. "Texas has a lot of speed and the ball will be thrown not only under, in the middle, but over the top, and they'll be tested. So they'll have to look at the right things first and foremost, then they have to make plays on the ball."

BYU squeaked away with a one-point victory in Oxford. It's certain that if the Cougars want to beat Texas, they need to add more points to the board. But, Coach Mendenhall isn't quite sure how much more of a test Texas will be compared to Ole Miss.

"Hard to say," Mendenhall said. "It's way early in the season, so it's hard to predict and it's hard to know exactly how the teams compare. I think it will be more difficult, but that's really a guess at this point."

Heading into the fourth quarter of the Texas vs. Rice game last week, the Longhorns led Rice 20-9. Texas rushed the ball 22 times that last quarter, finishing the game with 48 total carries for 229 yards (4.8 yards per carry). Texas won by a final score of 34-9.

"They ran a lot in the fourth quarter partly because of the lead they had and the control of the game they had established," Mendenhall said. "They have multiple running backs and they're physical and fast. I'm impressed with their skill."

The Cougars expect the Longhorns to test BYU's front seven with a variety of different formations.

"They run about any formation that anybody could line up in, is what you'll see," said Mendenhall. "Again, I know I've made the comparison before, but if you just watch the Boise State film, that's not identical, but basically what you'll see."

And what about BYU's offense? With just one touchdown against Ole Miss, the Cougars didn't match up to their capability. Still, Coach Mendenhall feels the issue was simply finishing.

"Well, I think they played fairly well last week," said Coach Mendenhall about the offense. "If you look at the number of drives, they moved the ball but didn't finish the drives. Again, most of my practice time amounts to the defense, so I've seen just an increased resolve in an increased amount of efficiency, and hopefully that shows on Saturday."

Although Texas was 5-7 last season – losing to UCLA, Oklahoma, Iowa State, Baylor, Kansas State, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M – Coach Mendenhall feels that Texas still holds a powerhouse reputation.

"They're again ranked in the top – I'm not sure where they're ranked – but in the top 20 or 25 as they are every year. Every year, they're bowl participants with rare exception. They have some of the nicest facilities, largest budget, best coaches year in and year out, so I think most of the people recognize that and think it's the same."

The Longhorns' Darrell K Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium seats more than 100,000 people. It will be the biggest venue the Cougars will play in. Keeping the Cougars grounded and not so starry-eyed will be a challenge. How will Coach Mendenhall tackle the challenge?

"I'm not really sure," Mendenhall said. "In a way I want them to acknowledge it's a really neat place to play and a lot of history and a great venue, so I want them to acknowledge it, then get super excited to be a part of it rather than feel like that's going to work against them."

In scouting out Texas quarterback Garrett Gilbert, what Mendenhall has seen is a very well-balanced field general.

"[He has good] size, and I think he's a fairly accurate passer with good mobility," Mendenhall said of Gilbert. "He won't be the only player they line up at quarterback. They'll line up running backs and others back there as well, but he's one of their other weapons."

It's going to be a great challenge for the Cougars, but it's one they're up for.

"I think it's just a matter of increased execution from where we were a week ago," said Mendenhall. "Field position will be really important and ball security, those two things. Then it will come down to execution against execution, offense and defense. Let's say those two things are the same, then field position and who holds onto the ball."

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