BYU Football Media Luncheon 8/31

Every college football game has match-ups in which certain players step to the forefront, forcing coaches to scheme against their abilities. A large determinant in the outcome of any college football game is how well coaches work the match-ups between key players. Enter Boston College's Mathias Kiwanuka.

"I don't know his name or how to pronounce it," said offensive lineman Jake Kuresa. "I know he's number 94 and that he's very, very good."

Kiwanuka comes into Saturday's opener as the ACC preseason player of the year, named to virtually every preseason All-American team in existence: the Bronco Nagurski watch list, the Chuck Bednarik Award watch list, the Lombardi Award watch list and the Ted Hendricks Award watch list. He was an All-American last season and looks to wreak havoc upon the BYU offensive front come Saturday.

"I watched a lot of film on him and he's as good as anybody," said Kiwanuka's counterpart on the BYU side of the ball, Manaia Brown. "We're sort of different in that he's a bit taller and not as big, but he's going to be a challenge for our offensive line, but I have a lot of confidence in [the BYU offensive line]."

Going against Kiwanuka for the most part will be Cougar right tackle Jake Kuresa who feels equal to the challenge.

"I know just about everyone except for me thinks he's going to beat me on Saturday," said Kuresa. "We'll just have to see about that. He's probably about as good as anyone I'll ever face in college, but I feel I'm pretty good too. I'm just happy and anxious to have the experience of going against him and I know Eddie [Keele, BYU's starting left tackle] feels the same way. He's the best and you always want to compete against the best."

Having coached many defensive players, Head Coach Bronco Mendenhall is impressed with what he's seen in Kiwanuka when watching film. "His reputation precedes him," said Mendenhall. "He's very fast, very athletic, but what endears him to me is he plays hard. He plays the game the way it's supposed to be played with his effort. He has my respect just from that aspect."

"Everybody knows about him and will be focused on him and how he does against me and the rest of us on Saturday," replied Kuresa. "I'm going to do everything I can to make them notice me. I'll be there and I'll just do what I can. I mean, what can I do? Just say he's all that and make excuses. I'm not going to make any excuses and just play the best I can and if he beats me he beats me."

One of the things Mendenhall has been most impressed with over the course of his induction as BYU's head coach to just days before his first game as head coach against Boston College is the progression of the Cougar offensive line.

"I've been impressed with our offensive line," Mendenhall said. "When you look at the scheme they've been asked to learn with the splits with the mindset of toughness as well, I've been impressed. Most of what they do with the new scheme is reactionary and they've come along. I've been impressed."

"They haven't faced an offensive line like ours," said Kuresa about Boston College. "We have some things that they haven't seen and they're not going to outwork us, that's for sure. We're up to the challenge. You can tell everyone how good you are and all that, but we have no credibility yet having lost for the last three years. It all starts on Saturday, showing people how good we are."

Who is in the booth?

Coach Mendenhall will have Coaches Higgins, Reynolds and Mitchell in the booth while the rest of the coaching staff will be on the sidelines. "Coach Reynolds and Coach Anae will have a direct link in terms of their headset communication," commented Mendenhall. "Coach Anae will call every play and will do that from the sidelines. He feels much like I do in that what you sacrifice in seeing the entire field you gain in terms of the feel and emotional part of being able to look into a player's eyes."

The Cougar head coach feels that Reynolds' experience will greatly enhance the offense as he looks down on the field from the top floor of the press box. "Coach Reynolds has a great sense of quick adjustments," explained Mendenhall. "I think Coach Reynolds is the best on our staff in that regard. He'll be able to assess very quickly what approach we take after seeing what Boston College is doing and then communicating that to Coach Anae."

Mendenhall also considers Coach Mitchell a critical link upstairs. "Because of some injuries we've had in the secondary he'll pay close attention to match-ups and how we look there," Mendenhall explained. "A lot of the aggression we come with will be in response to how those match-ups [in the secondary] look."

Carbon Copy Offense?

It is no secret that one of the focuses of the BYU coaching staff is to create an offensive system similar to the very productive and wide-open attack employed by Texas Tech. So, will the offense Cougar fans see on Saturday look exactly like that of the Red Raiders or will there be some original nuances?

"Some of the two-back focus that we have is something Texas Tech seldom has," responded Mendenhall. "The nature of their running backs are small or scat-back type running backs, so the nature of how they're given the ball is different. With us we have a two-back element with Curtis [Brown] and Fahu [Tahi] that I never remember defending against with Texas Tech."

Mendenhall also mentioned that the utility of the tight end or YR position will be employed differently than with what is common with Texas Tech. "Our tight ends, Johnny Harline and Daniel Coats, will be in at the same time as well and more often than what you'll probably see with Texas Tech," concluded Mendenhall.

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