Tanner Optimistic BYU Offense Will Rebound

One of BYU's defensive team leaders is taking a page from Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers' experience of a similar imbalance between the offensive and defensive production early last season only to come together for a great late-season close.

"I look at the Buccaneers last season," senior linebacker Mike Tanner said. "Everybody said their offense wasn't good enough and their defense wasn't good enough to carry them. But they stuck with it. By the end of the year, their offense was doing great and carrying the defense at times."

The frustrations of some defensive players reached new heights against Wyoming when the Cougar defense held Casey Bramlet's potent offense to only six points and still lost.

"I was so freaking mad after that game. I can't tell you how frustrating it was. I just wanted to fight somebody or something. I hate it when I get like that, but it's good to calm down and realize that everybody is playing their hearts out," Tanner said.

Tanner and his defensive teammates are very mindful there aren't two separate teams that make up the Cougar football team. The offense and the defense are one team and when one unit struggles, they all struggle.

"I'm not in the offensive meetings and I don't know what goes on over there, but I do know they're my teammates. When they struggle, we all struggle. We just have to believe they will breakout and become a real productive unit. I know those guys and I know they're busting their butts just like we are. We just have to believe in them because the day might come when the offense carries the defense," he continued.

Tanner's optimism in their offensive unit increases as they become healthier. "They've had some injuries over there, but now the players they look to and depend on are coming back. I totally believe they're going to get better as a unit."

The most notable return to BYU's offense is quarterback Matt Berry, who has finally recovered from his broken finger. Tanner added, "I'm stoked that Matt is back. He struggled a bit against Wyoming because he was a bit rusty, but I know he'll just get better. He's so calm and cool leading the offense. I'm excited to have him back, I think we all are."

How have he and his defensive teammates stayed positive when few of the team's expectations have been met thus far this season? "Bronco won't let us get down", says Tanner, "I'm so blessed to have him as a coach. He's just so even-tempered. He doesn't care who we're playing or how we're playing. He's always the same."

Tanner said they collectively have great confidence in Bronco Mendenhall's ability to make needed adjustments during and after games. "He always seems to know what to do. We kind of tanked against San Diego State and Colorado State, but Bronco didn't get down. He just made the adjustments and we went on. It just seems like he knows exactly what to do and which adjustments to make with every game and in every situation. That is so great to have. I can't even tell you how thankful I am to have him as our coach."

One of the notable adjustments Mendenhall made during the Wyoming game was moving defensive tackle Daniel Marquardt to defensive end while moving Brady Poppinga to linebacker, essentially playing a 4-2-5 defense for all intents and purposes.

Marquardt commented on his occasional switch to defensive end. "It's a challenge. I'm definitely not used to it, but I like the challenge. Bronco always likes to challenge us and I welcome the change. Of course, I prefer playing in the middle, but if moving me to defensive end on occasion helps, then I'm all for it."

Tanner observed, "It's an effort by Bronco to just get our best playmakers on the field at the same time. Marquardt is awesome and so is Manaia (Brown), (Jon) Denney and some of the others. They're playmakers, so they need to be in there more. I think this is an effort by Bronco to get them all in the game more."

As to lining up alongside Poppinga as a linebacker, Tanner exuded, "I just love it. I love playing with Brady no matter where he's at. He's such a competitor and pumps everyone up. It's so much fun to play with a guy like that. He just makes everyone better."

Tanner insists that BYU's postseason Bowl game hopes have not been dashed. He said the team's goal is to be Bowl eligible. "I know we can be. I know that we're a good team with great athletes that want to win. We'll get over this and finish strong, I know that we will. We're still on track to achieve many of the goals we set prior to the season. We had a goal of becoming a top ten defense and we're close to achieving that."

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