Cougar Introspection

BYU is matched up against Division I-AA Eastern Illinois this Saturday after a season-opening loss against then-22nd ranked Boston College. Given the class of the opponent does Head Coach Bronco Mendenhall consider Saturday's game a tune-up or even a gimme-type game?

"Absolutely not," responded Mendenhall. "You prepare against an Eastern Illinois the same way we'd prepare if we were playing USC this Saturday."

Mendenhall stated today during the weekly media luncheon that the focus in this game and in every game he coached would be on the team's improvement and on what they needed to do to prepare best regardless of the opponent.

"The ultimate focus on our team right now is how do we improve," said Mendenhall. "That comes about through accountability and attention to detail. It's all about self-improvement and how we can achieve that going against Eastern Illinois."

"We're going to get a lot better," said receiver Zac Collie. "We did some things alright, but none of us are even close to being satisfied with what we did against Boston College. We felt like we should have won the game."

Mendenhall mentioned two specific factors that the team has addressed this week in practice in preparation for Eastern Illinois: executing in the blue zone and executing on third and short situations.

"I'm convinced and I think we demonstrated that we can move the ball between the 20s," said Mendenhall. "When it counts most is when you put it in the end zone, so I'd like to see that improve.

"When it comes down to third and short or on fourth and short I'd like to see us convert and convert at a high level."

Mendenhall went on to say that when given the critical situations throughout a ball game that his players would prepare accordingly to convert those critical situations. "Players execute according to how they prepare," he said.

"It's up to us," said Collie. "We have to be always aware of the situation and do whatever we have to do in order to convert those. You want to go hard on every play, but yeah, there are certain situations where you have to do more and we're addressing that.

"We have to score points. It's something we've worked hard on all fall and to only put up 3 points was really frustrating. The goal this week is to put up points and I personally think we should score around 40 points this coming Saturday. We have the offense and the players to do that."

Mendenhall indicated that when given the 60-80 plays during any given football game that there are usually a small number of critical plays that largely determine who wins the game and emphasized the importance of rising to the challenge to convert on said plays.

"It defines the difference between winning and losing," said Mendenhall. "I would say four or five plays in that game as there are during the course of most games that determine the outcome."

What to expect from Eastern Illinois

"I've coached at the 1-AA level and the biggest difference is the size and the depth," said Mendenhall. "The first line of talent with the best 1-AA teams isn't much different. They'll have some positions where they have some exceptional talent, but the size and the depth won't be the same."

Changes

Coach Mendenhall said the lineup of Coaches Reynolds, Higgins and Mitchell in the booth will be tweaked this coming week. The most noticeable change coming with Coach Higgins being assigned to field duty this coming Saturday.

"One of the things I was most frustrated with was the communication throughout the game," said Mendenhall. "I underestimated some components and overestimated some others. What I found is the expediency in how quickly you need to flip in order to talk to a coach in a critical situation to get his input has a short timetable. I underestimated that."

Other changes will come on special teams coverage units. "There are personnel changes on every special teams on either front ball or certain key positions," commented Mendenhall. "On kickoff returns there were a number of poor decisions made there. In punt coverage there were a couple of critical mistakes made."


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