Cougars Turn Focus

Although it is Friday, Coach Mendenhall and his Cougar staff have begun implementing preparations for Arizona as if it were a Monday practice. On Saturday, the Cougars will practice what was learned on Friday, and will go full contact.

The time is drawing closer and closer to BYU's contest with the Wildcats of Arizona. The focus of the coaching staff has turned from player and team development to implementing those talents to defeat Arizona come September 1.

"For Monday's practice you're not in full pads," said BYU offensive lineman Travis Bright. "The main thing for us as an offense is to go over their blitzes and go over their fronts and kind of see what's going on. This way, by us having a Monday's practice today, we have Tuesday's practice on Saturday and Monday, which is full pads and full go. This way it just gives us an extra full day to work at it. A Monday practice isn't full tempo, but it's still quick to the ball while trying to figure out what their plan is and what they run."

"Usually [Monday practices are] around 12 periods long, which means they're around an hour long," said Jan Jorgensen. "It's kind of just getting a feel for what the other team is going to do."

During the light scrimmage on Friday, the first-team offense and first-team defense went up against opposing scout teams mimicking Arizona, so as to give the first-team units a look and feel of what they'll see come September 1.

"The defensive scout team was with us," said Bright. "They do just as much work as we do learning [Arizona's] coverages and stuff. They try and learn as much as they can to give us a good look. The more they practice and learn, the better it is for us. If we didn't have the kind of scout team we had last year, we wouldn't have been as good."

"Now it's just going out and implementing all of Arizona's stuff," said Max Hall. "Today was the first day of having their defense look at us, and we're going to have a bunch of practices to prepare for it. At the same time, we've been studying film for a long time and know what's coming. We just have to make sure that we have a good game plan, good schemes, and go out and play."

"This is really our first exposure to what Arizona is going to do," said Jorgensen. "We go out and do our plays and do our game plan with our coaches and go through our little drills. We're out there working fast and working hard, and it's a good day for us to get a feel for what the other team is going to try and do against us."

For the BYU defense, the mock Arizona offense played by the scout team is a little different this year than it was last year. With the hiring of Sonny Dykes from Texas Tech, the Wildcat offense will resemble BYU's offense more than what the Cougars faced in Tucson last year.

"The offense at Arizona is a totally new offense," said Jorgensen. "They brought in a new offensive coordinator from Texas Tech, so they're going to be running more the offense from Texas Tech, but I think they're also going to be doing more of what we do also. I think they're going to implement a lot of the run into their offense, which is really what we do, so I think you'll see more of the spread, but also the run like we do. It's going to be a little out of those two things."

"There will be some similarities," Hall said. "It's the same scheme and the same concepts. Our defense has seen this offense for many years now and they've picked up things, so I'm confident that they're going to go out there and perform well against them. The good thing is our defense has been able to see it, and so they'll know what's coming at them."

Having also coached at Texas Tech, it's certain that BYU offensive coordinator Robert Anae and Bronco Mendenhall have put their heads together to project what the defense will see come game day.

"I know Coach Anae and Coach Mendenhall have talked a lot," Jorgensen said. "Coach Anae knows the new Arizona offensive coordinator really well over there. I know those two have talked a lot about game planning and tendencies for this game."

Now you can hear senior cornerback Ben Criddle giving his thoughts on how BYU has been preparing for the up-and-coming game against Arizona.

Cougar Conversations With Criddle

Putting in a new offense isn't as easy as it may sound. The challenge for the Wildcats will be trying to run a brand new offense away from home against a defense used to facing it year after year.

"This is something that is brand new to them and there are things they're going to have to learn how to run," Hall said. "We struggled with things as well, and it's just getting into the system. They're going to have challenges with a few things. It's seeing what works and what you can do with the players you have, and that takes awhile. I mean, we're even doing different things than we did last year because we saw things that didn't work for us last year, and so we're changing them or fixing them to better fit with what's going to work. It takes a couple years, and so we'll see how they do with this new offense their first year."

Hall knows he will face an experienced Wildcat defense for his Cougar debut at LaVell Edwards Stadium. He is confident that his Cougar defense, a defense used to scrimmaging against the type of offense found at BYU and now Arizona, will have prepared him and his offense well.

"I think Arizona returns quite a few starters on defense," said Hall. "I think they return around nine or maybe even ten, I'm not sure. What this does for us is, we've already gotten a good look at them. I can look at all the stuff from last year that they're going to bring at us like the stunts and blitzes that they'll bring. We're prepared for it and ready for it.

"We think that our guys on offense are more skilled and more athletic…than [the guys] they have on their defense, and we're going to take advantage of that. I'm confident in our guys that we can go out there and play, man. I'm confident in our guys that we can make plays on their defense and we should score points."

Hall, who grew up in Arizona and committed to Wildcat rival school Arizona St. out of high school, doesn't look at Arizona differently than any other team. To him, Arizona is just the first team on the schedule.

"For me, it's more of a bigger deal that it's my first start at BYU than I'm playing U of A," said Hall. "I'm more excited that I get to put on the jersey finally and go out there and play next Saturday. That's what I'm more excited about. If it just so happens to be against a team like U of A, a team that I kind of grew up looking as a rival, so be it. We're going to go out and we're ready for them."

Total Blue Sports Top Stories