Mendenhall discusses his team

When Coach Mendenhall talked about his team this week, the quarterback situation with Jake Heaps and Riley Nelson was unsurprisingly the main topic of conversation. In addition to sharing his thoughts on that subject, however, Mendenhall also addressed a few other issues, including the defense and the running game.

- Mendenhall said a decision on the starting quarterback this week will likely be made either Thursday or Friday.

- On what he's looking for this week in practice from the quarterbacks: "Just production in terms of practice, how they manage the practice reps, etc., how they're each handling the situation they're in, and who will provide the best leadership and production. And we have a lot of history with it, so trying to just gauge how the team's responding and how they're practicing, that's a big part of it."

- On how much what happened in the Utah State game will factor into which player is named the starter: "A lot, a lot. Riley came in and did a fantastic job, but that was only one game, and it was only one half, so that has to be measured also."

- On whether they practice two different offenses depending on whether Heaps or Nelson is in at quarterback: "That's the lesson we learned a year ago: can't do that. And even though there are quite a few unique differences, basically the offense you saw on [Friday] was the offense designed for Jake Heaps with then all of a sudden a quarterback draw or two for Riley with all the same passing plays, all the same everything else. So the offense that you've been seeing is our offense … If I've learned anything, it won't be practicing two offenses at the same time, which we tried to do a year ago."

- While Mendenhall said that the two quarterbacks utilize the same passing plays, he noted that Nelson's mobility and scrambling do provide unique opportunities for receivers to get open.

- Mendenhall said he has talked to Heaps since the Utah State game to see how he is doing, and said that the sophomore quarterback is doing great.

- When deciding on a quarterback, Mendenhall said they are taking into account not just what's best for the short term, but the long term as well. Nevertheless, that doesn't mean they would choose a currently less productive player that appears to be better for the long term. "I think productivity immediately will win the day, but again, I don't see this being we name a starter this week and then it's tenure through the rest of the season. I see it where if we're not quite moving the ball as much as we need to and we need a spark, certainly the other player could come in and do just what Riley did if the roles were reversed."

- On what he can do to shore up tackling: "I don't know if you can shore it up. Man, Utah State I thought had good running backs, so that was part of it. And San Jose State, they've got a really good running back, so just keep practicing as physically as we can, emphasizing wrapping up, and go from there."

- On the improvements in the running game the past two weeks: "It's one of those things that has to have happened, and it still needs more work, but it's essential. We won't reach our goals and have the season we want without that."


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