Happy election day, everyone. Glad you made the choice to stop by the ol' BYU blog today. I just posted video of BYU football coach Bronco Mendenhall's post-practice news conference from Monday night yeah, that's me yelling questions from the back of the pack for your viewing pleasure. But if you don't want to sit through 7-8 minutes of video, here are a few highlights from the session: * Mendenhall said the Cougars are already anxious to play another game, anxious to practice and anxious to get back to work and anxious to finish the season strong (he uses the word 'anxious' when he really means eager). He said the focus of the bye week was getting players healthy."You know, we focused hard on it. And so from what I saw today, they looked fresh, and were ready to practice. I can't say there was a slew of players coming back in. But the ones we had looked fresher and more healthy." * He said the Cougars can get better. "We have a lot to improve as a football program and as a team. So our focus is on how much better we can get," he said. "Haven't looked ahead much, so we had a full day on Idaho today. We will worry about our next opponent after that. But we have a lot to improve on. So that's really what the focus is on." * Interim Idaho coach Jason Gesser is just 33-years-old. The former Washington State and Utah Blaze quarterback has a "great responsibility" and a "neat opportunity," Mendenhall said, noting he can't remember how old he was when he got his first head coaching gig (at BYU). He was 38 when he got the job, 39 when he coached his first game. "Idaho is a team that has struggled with consistency, both on offense and defense. In stretches they show capability, and then they have had issues turning over the football and maintaining a high level of execution from the beginning of the game to the end of the game. I think that's been their biggest challenge," he said. * Mendenhall said he doesn't know yet when offensive lineman Braden Hansen will return from a groin tear. "Hopefully [soon], but probably too early to say," he said. * Mendenhall field the obligatory Jamaal Williams question with this: "I would say from the early signs, yeah [he could develop into an elite running back]. He is still really young, just 17 years old, and a lot of work to still do. But the way he runs the football, the confidence he runs it with, the physical nature he runs it with, is really a nice start for a true freshman." * Here's Mendenhall's response when he was asked how recruiting is coming and whether coaches were out on the recruiting trail during the bye week: "We are in really good shape recruiting. Still a few pieces to finish up, with the offensive line issues that we have. But our finding pool has been really good, and we have made a lot of progress. And I am really comfortable with where we stand right now. Still a few pieces we have to land, or have come in, but it was a real productive week. Some [assistants] were out of state, and some were in. We are running short on evaluations, so we have to pick and choose really carefully." * It sounds like the 24 seniors who will be honored Saturday night in their final home games will receive their blankets before the game. "A little bit different format. Normally, I am able to be with them after the game. But with an eight-something start, that is going to be really late. So what we will do is we will honor them more pregame, and then what I normally do after the game I will do at the banquet this year, just because of how late the start is," Mendenhall said.
Here's the list of 24 seniors who will be honored Saturday night.
Riley Nelson James Lark David Foote Braden Brown Braden Hansen Riley Stephenson Zed Mendenhall Reed Hornung Ziggy Ansah Romney Fuga Simote Vea Russell Tialavea Uona Kaveinga Brandon Ogletree Preston Hadley Robbie Buckner Joe Sampson Ian Dulan (injured in 2012) DeQuan Everett Ryan Freeman (injured in 2012)Austen JorgensenRhen Brown (injured in 2012)Walter Kahaiali'i (injured in 2012)Jordan Richardson (injured in 2012) Seniors who were injured early in the season and will try to get the year back with an appeal to the NCAA: Mike Hague, safety Eathyn Manumaleuna, defensive tackle