Making the Right Things Happen

Since Bronco Mendenhall took the reins of BYU's football program, the right things have started to happen more often than not during most games. The program is definitely on an upward trend coming off Mendenhall's first nonconference road win as a head coach, and the team looks to continue their efforts of making the right things happen out on the football field.

The most poignant moment of Monday's morning press conference came when head coach Bronco Mendenhall was asked about three of the last five wins BYU has had, games in which so-called "miracle-plays" proved to be the difference in the outcome. The reporter asked Mendenhall to relate those miracle plays as being a mark of resilience within the players and the program or just instances of sheer luck.

In most of his responses during press conferences, Mendenhall gives full answers explaining his point of view on a certain topic. Mendenhall's response to this question was relatively brief, but in its briefness it explained a lot regarding his perspective on things in relation to resilience and sheer luck.

"I think that's up for interpretation, but three times in a row isn't luck," said Mendenhall.

Indeed, for the second time in four games the Cougars, which aren't necessarily known for their adeptness in blocking kicks, were able to rise up and block a kick to preserve a victory. On Saturday the Cougars blocked Washington's final PAT attempt, which mirrored their last-second block of a UCLA attempt during the Las Vegas Bowl. Those plays were absolutely essential in securing both those victories, and the team rose to the challenge at hand and executed the necessary play. My, how things have changed since Mendenhall took the reins.

BYU vs. San Diego State 2000

I can remember well the first and only time I've ever made a call into a postgame call-in show. It was following BYU's loss to San Diego State at home back in 2000, which was LaVell Edwards' final season.

BYU lost that game 16-15 by way of a last-second field goal by San Diego State. As time expired I remember quite clearly no more than eight of the 11 defenders rushing the kick attempt as three held back in "safety" positions to guard against the entirely unlikely event of a faked field goal.

Back then I simply failed to understand why BYU wouldn't do everything within its power to cause the field goal to be missed, as a missed field goal was the only means by which BYU could have won that game. As I watched at least three defenders stand in their positions at the snap of the football, it made little sense to me, and I decided to call in and ask then-special teams coordinator Tom Ramage about the decision.

Ramage was sitting in for LaVell Edwards during the call-in show and I remember quite clearly his response. His response was that during that situation all they could do was call the best set that they knew and hope for the best.

It was a brief response and I was cut off before I was able to ask a follow-up question. I was left believing that either the coaching staff did not have an all-out blocking scheme within the playbook, or that the coaching staff really did believe that they should just run the formation and play they did best and hope for the necessary outcome.

Could the eight rushing defenders get a hand on the ball? Ideally they could. But what in the world was the point of leaving at least three defenders in safety-positions and therefore leaving themselves incapable of making the right thing happen during that juncture of the ball game? That question vexed me for the rest of the year.

At Monday's press conference David Nixon said that it's rare to have all 11 players rush the kicker, but in his mind it was the only option against both Washington's last second extra point try and UCLA's last field goal attempt during the Las Vegas Bowl.

Indeed, coaches did prepare for the situation, making the only defensive call that made sense when defending a kick during critical situations such as those. The team was charged well with their task, given a formation and play that met the challenge, and they simply executed it correctly.

Sound simple? Absolutely, but those things don't just happen, and yet they are happening currently within the Cougar football program. Time and again this team is rising to the challenge during critical situations, proving resilient and making the right things happen out on the football field. It speaks very well to the current strength and direction of the football program under the direction of head coach Bronco Mendenhall.

Clawson Ready

With Vic So'oto going down with a broken foot, the weak side linebacker position will be manned by Coleby Clawson, who was splitting time at the position before So'oto's injury. Clawson said he's ready and is up to the challenge.

"The biggest challenge will obviously be not getting reps off," said Clawson about his new responsibilities, which will likely see him take at least 90 percent of the reps at his position. "I won't have time now to take breaks, but I think I'm ready for it. I'm in great shape and I feel I've played well enough out there these past few games. I obviously have a lot to improve on, but my team needs me now to take most of the reps now and I don't plan on letting them down."

It Takes More than an Offensive Line

After Monday's practice I was able to talk to offensive line coach Mark Weber about the improved blocking against Washington and this week's matchup against the stout UCLA defensive front.


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