"I would say our football team improved execution-wise within our schemes and that was the thing that I was hoping to see, and I thought I would see, more so the first half than the second half," said BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall. "What I also saw in film was when the mental edge comes of this team that was the difference in the third quarter. Concentration wasn't the same, effort wasn't the same and the resulting execution wasn't the same, simply by a slight shift in the mental approach. With the score being 31 to nothing, just that slight shift resulted in a very sloppy third quarter.
"The underlying theme of the game was improvement in execution and scheme and that was the focus. There are still plenty of things offensively, defensively and on special teams that we can correct. We need every practice of this bye week and our game preparation for TCU to make sure we're ready."
In film studies, Coach Mendenhall spent some time reviewing the second half of the Eastern Illinois game. He used that film to demonstrate what happens when his team loses the mental edge that they worked so hard to develop this summer.
"I feel fortunate to have a game like this where the outcome was really decided, yet now we can use it as a learning experience in that how important that mental edge is regardless of who you're playing," said Coach Mendenhall. "It was a way to put on the third quarter in film and show exactly the correlation between that edge not being the same and out performance. Conversely, if you saw the first half when it was sharp is was as good as it's looked yet collectively, at least as I've been the head coach."
The big news out of practice came on the injury front. Coming out of the game Coach Mendenhall knew that Eddie Keele hurt his knee, but in addition to finding out that Keele suffered a 2nd degree MCL sprain, Coach Mendenhall also learned that Joe Griffin has a meniscus tear in both knees which he will have scoped on Tuesday, Ray Feinga has a completely torn MCL, Lance and Dallas Reynolds both have sprained ankles, and if that was not enough, Jake Kuresa, Terence Brown and Jonny Harline all have banged up shoulders.
There is a light at the end of this infirmary tunnel, however. All of the injured players could be ready to go against TCU. Coach Mendenhall will reduce the level of contact in practice in an attempt to preserve the health of his team.
Another goal for the bye week is to preserve the intensity that has permeated practices since early August. Coach Mendenhall indicated that he intends to maintain focus as a team by continuing to focus on the teams objectives of returning the football program to the glory and tradition of days past.
Starting tomorrow practice will revolve around preparation for TCU. For the coaching staff, game planning for TCU began some time ago.
"We've done all our summer scouting staff," said Coach Mendenhall. "They have the same coaching staff so we feel very prepared. The schemes wouldn't have changed much. You'll see scout work against TCU's schemes starting tomorrow. The only thing that might co-exist with that now is injury recovery but then you'll see some young player scrimmage opportunity and young player development which we do every Thursday night anyway.
After downing the seventh-ranked Sooners in Oklahoma two weeks ago, TCU suffered a major letdown against in-state rival SMU. Coach Mendenhall is not worried about his team suffering a similar letdown.
"I think it's pretty clear that we didn't beat Oklahoma," said Mendenhall. "I wouldn't expect our football team to have the same satisfaction that CU had in beating Oklahoma. I think it's a different standard. A win is still a win but the national prowess of Oklahoma I think would lend itself to a lot of teams going in there and winning an possibly not being as focused. I don't know what happened. I was told last night on my coaches show that Coach Patterson had mentioned that based on Tuesday and Wednesday's practices he knew that they were headed for trouble. I've seen that before. That kind of refers to our half-time coming out to the third quarter, maybe the mental edge came off a little bit. College football is too competitive you performance is affected by that."
At the end of practice, the Cougars revived another BYU tradition, albeit with a few changes. On one end of the practice field were several tables covered with envelopes bearing a different player's name. In the envelopes were stickers for the player's helmet. Coach Mendenhall explained that there are two different types of sticker.
"Those on the left side are the gold stickers that refer to things of character and academics like 4.0 and 3.0 GPAs," he said. "What we call our ultimate warrior standard that's met with 10 ours of community service. Those are our things that regard values that we hold important. On the right side are blue stickers for team goals. Meeting certain points scored and points allowed goals. A win obviously and then things that have to do with turnover margin, etc. There are no individual awards on the blue side. The offensive scout team is tied to the defense and the defensive scout team is tied to the offense. So every player should have very similar recognition. It's a team game so that's the approach we've taken."
While the focus now moves to TCU, Coach Mendenhall will not be watching the Horned Frogs battle the Utes this Thursday night. Mendenhall already has much more importante plans.
Said the coach, "Thursday night is date night for myself and my wife, so I will not be watching that."