Players React to New Coaches

TBS spoke with several Cougar football players after the press conference announcing Bronco Mendenhall as the new BYU head football coach. John Beck, Daniel Coats and Cameron Jnesen share their reactions to the changes in the coaching staff. The players also reveal their outlook as a new era in BYU football begins.

Cougar quarterback John Beck was on hand Monday for the press conference announcing Bronco Mendenhall as the new head coach and Robert Anae as the new Offensive Coordinator of the BYU football team. Beck was understandably anxious to get things rolling again under the new coaching staff.

"It is just good to know who our coach is," said the junior to be of his new head coach. "It was tough. Especially for how big of a role football plays in my life and how much I care about wanting to be successful and win. It was tough. I had a lot of nights where I was just staying up and couldn't sleep. My wife would try to talk to me about certain things and I would have to be like, ‘Sorry but my mind has been scrambled all over the place. Sorry, but I have football on my mind right now.' It is good to know they way we are moving. We have our coaches – our offensive coach our head coach - and I think it is going to be fun. I'm excited."

When asked what type of attributes Coach Mendenhall possess that will make him a better quarterback, beck replied: "Coach Mendenhall is a very focused person and in the quarterback position you have to be very focused and he is also very prepared and the quarterback has to be prepared for everything."

"I have read a lot of books and began to associate with people who have been successful at the NFL level and one of the key characteristics is to be a person who is a focused and prepared person and who cares a lot about detail," Beck continued. "Mike Shanahan, the Coach of the Broncos, I know he is under a lot of scrutiny right now, but his teams for three years were extremely successful with John Elway and one of the reasons is because his care for the small things. He could pay attention to detail and he wanted all aspects, even the minor things, to be run perfectly and I think that is one thing that Coach Mendenhall does and is going to bring to this team is that every aspect of our game will be run perfectly."

Robert Anae played for LaVell Edwards at BYU in the early 1980's. Anae learned from Edwards as well as Norm Chow and Lance Reynolds during his time as a Cougar offensive lineman. Coach Anae went on to help install the Edwards/Chow offense at the Big XII's Texas Tech. Beck, often described as a football junkie, was familiar with the gaudy numbers put up by the Red Raider offenses. Coach Anae brings the Tech offensive system with him to BYU and Beck is thrilled for the opportunity to replicate the results Anae had in Texas.

"It is an offense that scores points," said Beck. "When you score points you are going to be successful and you put your team in a better chance to win and one thing I want to do is win. Winning is fun and when you play football and win it is fun. You can go out there and throw for 500 yards and 900 touchdowns and if you don't win it is just not fun. I just want this place to be a winning place."

Beck is a passionate quarterback and athlete. TBS recently spoke to a recruit named Shannon Lucas who said that the passion Beck showed in a post-game television interview inspired him to be better a football player. Bronco Mendenhall also brings high level of passion for the game. Beck said that the passion for football shared by he and Coach Mendenhall translates into improved performance.

"One thing about sports is you can always find a different level," said the Cougar signal caller. "One of my most favorite quotes is from the movie The Legend of Bagger Vance. It says, ‘The game of golf is the game that can never be won, it can only be played.' You can continue to get better at it but you are never going to master it, win it. This is why I like football because you can continue to find ways to get better, to improve, to keep moving forward, and keep getting better and this is what we are trying to here – we are just trying to find a new level. I believe Coach Mendenhall will raise this team up to the level he requires of us."

So how is Beck going to respond to the elevated demands of his new coaches?

"I'm very excited because of the way that he demands things," said Beck. "Growing up I had a dad that demanded a lot of me. Sometimes it frustrated me, but I look back now after passing through those experiences in life and I can look back and thank my dad for being so hard on me and for demanding certain things from me. You learn certain lessons from hard work and from discipline and when you see someone implementing that in the program it gets you excited. That's just how I grew up and I grew up having to be that way and if you didn't you got kicked in the pants. It makes you tough and I have a lot of faith that he is going to make us a tough team."

One player who looks to be the recipient of more passes from Beck as a result of the new wide-open offense is tight end Daniel Coats. Sunday night, however, Coats had never heard of the man who will now be directing the Cougar offense.

"I didn't know anything," said Coats. "I didn't know who he was until one of the other players told me he's from Texas Tech. Things are going to be great."

After a meeting with the players before Monday's press conference, Coats still has much to learn about the high scoring offense Coach Anae was a part of at Texas Tech, but Coats feels confident everything will work out well.

"He is really excited to be here, since he played here before and he is going to bring a lot of intensity too," said Coats. "I have not seen his offensive much, so I really don't know what to expect, but everyone else is excited about him who have seen it, so I guess he is going to be great.

"Oh yeah, I know they throw a lot so that will be great, but other than that, I just hope we turn things around."

While Coats will have to become familiar with Anae's new offense, he is already getting a feel for what type of coach Anae will be.

"He is going to be the other side of Bronco, I mean Coach Mendenhall," said the sophomore from Layton's Northridge High. "He's bad. Just how he is intense with defense, he will be intense with us on offense. There will be no slacking, if you are not giving it your all, you will not be playing. And that is the way it should be. There should not be politics in football."

So is Coats ready to meet the new challenge?

"Definitely. I hope the whole team is ready, because if we all do, we will be great."

With the announcement of the promotion of BYU's defensive coordinator to the head coaching position, it is safe to assume that the Cougar defenders are very with the staffing decision. Said BYU Linebacker Cameron Jensen, "I'm a defensive guy, so when I heard the news last night I was excited; he is going to do a great job."

Early in the selection process, many players on the defense took matters into their own hands. It was reported that upwards of 30 defensive teammates marched into selection committee member Tom Holmoe's office and made it clear that they felt Bronco Mendenhall was the man for the job.

"We went in to Tom Holmoe and we said we would support him and we had trust in him to make the right decision," said Jensen. "But I wanted to say that I thought Mendenhall would do a great job and that we would sure support him."

Even after that effort there was much concern among the defensive players that they would lose their mentor. Said Jensen: "I was scared there, as a lot of us were, that we were going to lose him, because he is such an amazing coach. If you are around him and see the way he coaches – the players are happy, we are all excited. We are scared because we know what is going to happen January 4th, but we are excited and we are excited because we know we are going to work hard and be ready."

Jensen expressed the opinion that there will be a marked contrast between Mendenhall's coaching style and that of former head coach Gary Crowton. "I think their coaching styles are a lot different," said the middle linebacker. "There is going to be a lot more discipline I think, just because it is effort based. There is going to be a higher standard set on both sides of the ball. I think you are going to see a lot of flying around, a lot of intensity. I can't wait for Spring Ball to see how it turns out and to start playing."

Jensen also talked with TBS about how things Coach Mendenhall teaches on the field will carry over to players' off the field development. This was a major factor for the search committee when they were making their decision.

"I don't think people realize who Coach Mendenhall is," said the redshirt sophmore. "He is such a great coach and I think for BYU he will be perfect relating to the Honor Code – things he teaches within the Defense in playing with the right spirit and by obeying the honor code you'll even play better and he teaches those things. I think he will do a great job both offensively and defensively.

"It is different than anybody. A lot of people don't understand Coach Mendenhall the things he has taught me since I've been here and the things I've learned about myself and those around me it is incredible the standard he set and he talks about – it is great for BYU on a spiritual nature – he talks about being right inside and how we act off the field and what goes on around you, which is great and it is evident on the playing field. I think he'll be great and I can't wait."

TBS asked Jensen about what Coach Mendenhall discussed with the players in the meeting he had with the players right before the press conference.

"Typical Coach Mendenhall – defense and energy – and the standard he set that it would be compromised and it is a very high standard of effort and playing hard and I love that," Jensen replied. "He instills that on both sides of the ball.

"The meeting was pretty short. The thing he did say was just effort on both sides and that he demands a lot and he demands our trust and coming out every day and working hard and don't expect it to be easy. He let us know that the 4th of January is when we start and to be ready for it."

You would think that after playing two years of Bronco Ball, Jensen would know what to expect in terms of the intensity of practice. Apparently, this isn't the case.

"Oh, it is going to be harder," said Jensen. "I don't know what to expect. It gets harder and harder every year and he told us that if we thought it was hard last year just wait and see this year. But that is what we love about him and we want to work harder than anybody in the nation and that's what we pride ourselves in and I'm looking forward to that."

TBS asked Jensen if he could tell John Beck one thing, what would it be?

"To be prepared," he quickly answered. "You cannot be too prepared. But, just to enjoy it. You are going to love playing for a coach that coaches this way and that demands so much of you and it will make you so much of a better person and to just enjoy it."

Jensen concluded by sharing how he feels going forward with Coach Mendenhall at the helm.

"I'm excited. I can't wait. When I heard about it and just after the team meeting he had. When he came in and said, ‘as I address you as the head coach…' I couldn't have been happier."


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