This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2010, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Here are BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall's postgame comments following the Cougars' 24-21 win over San Diego State on Saturday: Opening statement: "I was proud of our football team today. I think they were resilient, I think they worked hard as a team. I think they showed a lot more grit and determination and they battled from beginning to end. I was especially proud of our running game. I thought our running backs ran really hard and used up a lot of possession time. We were still able to generate points. San Diego State is a good football team, and they are coached really well. I am proud to be the coach of our football team today." On if he saw something on film that told him the Cougars could run the ball like they did: "Not necessarily. You start developing a history, playing against different coaches over time, etc. and some schemes match a little bit here or there. With our freshman quarterback, who is doing a really nice job, it seemed like possession throws with a running game was going to be the way to attack this opponent, with a few risks in the kicking game, which we took early. And then hopefully good defense. So the plan, the way we hoped it would unfold, it came about just about like that. I didn't say that very well." On what the win means to him and the team: "There's a lot of valuable lessons, just in perseverance and determination. It is really gratifying to see a lot of people come and watch the game. They helped us win, and our team I think was battling as hard as they could. Those will be lessons that will help them after they leave BYU, and it has not been easy. It doesn't mean that we've arrived yet...but on this day, and the way they worked this week, and performed. They played BYU football today, and from beginning to end in a manner where execution can still improve. But they made the critical plays when they needed to. They supported each other, and I think they played hard. So that's progress." On getting off to a fast start and a 14-0 lead: "I think that contributed. The run game on the first series, with the fake field goal. I think that was the first touchdown. And then there was a quick turnover. I think the defense had only played four or five plays, and we had a couple of scores on the board. And that was a great way to start. So San Diego State was playing from behind the rest of the game."On whether he's already found the team's heart and soul: "I am not certain. I don't want to yet crown that the soul has been discovered. But we all saw them respond, and that's gratifying as a coach. I saw it the entire week of practice, from coaches and players. And they had a chance to demonstrate that today. Again, I am not willing to say we've arrived. I am not willing to say that it is exactly as I want it to be, but I think we did see a difference." On what it can be traced to: "I think maybe just trust in myself as the head coach, and maybe seeing me do something, meaning that we are all struggling. And rather than leading from maybe here, this way, it was just kind of rolling up my sleeves, and getting down with them, and trying to help them. And they appreciated that." On how the new defensive coordinator (Mendenhall) did: "You know, he's hard to gauge. I think he certainly enjoyed coaching football this week a lot more than he has this season." On if there was a certain play or series where he saw what he preached this week was going to happen: "I think that just a quarterback that's a very accurate passer, and a team that's been scoring a lot of points, just to see that we were having some success, without long drives happening. You know, there were three and outs. It took them quite a while before they figured out what we were trying to do, etc. And so just maybe after two or three series, I knew that would last for awhile. I figured that at some point if they had the ball enough they might catch up to what we were doing. But just from the beginning, maybe third or fourth series, I could tell that we had a chance to keep them off balance a little bit." On the team's patience on offense: "Well, it was just methodical. And when we play our style of football sometimes it is through the passing game right now, the running game today kind of had that. So it wasn't necessarily flashy. But it was 5 yards at a time, 6 yards at a time, a first down at a time all the way to the very end where we needed third and five or third and six, and we got one more yard than we needed to. And that's BYU football, when we are playing well. I think a lot of backs contributed, but our offensive line, with all the stunts and how well Rocky coordinates defense, they really did a nice job picking up all those things and we knew that we were trying to eliminate minus-yardage plays. The more we throw it, especially against their defense, the more you have a chance to have minus yardage plays accumulate. And so we tried to stay out of those situations as much as we could." On how the fake field goal came about: "Well, earlier in the week...we had been working on fakes all season long. We tried to be elaborate before on a rugby punt, and that was my call as well, and this one, coach Higgins, our special teams coordinator, he does a great job of saying, I think we have a chance here, or I don't think we do. We had agreed before the game that the first time we got in a certain field position area, that we were going to do it. It just happened to be on the first drive. It wasn't easy. He was covered well, and Matt Marshall was being chased and pursued, and Matt Marshall was indicative of the heart you were asking about. He did a lot of things today. He starts on every special team. He ran the fake field goal. He is back there at quarterback doing some different things. Players like that, I think were what I was trying to allude to, if you want an example of what I am trying to have our team play like, that would be a good example." On the run defense and bottling up Hillman: "It has been a point of emphasis. I love run defense. I love that part of the game, and in the second half not to our kids' fault, I got caught off balance a little bit, thinking they were going to throw, and they actually ran it a couple of times. So that wasn't our players' fault, it was just Al Borges their coordinator outguessing me a couple times. But when we knew it was run, and we played run defense, we played it well." On whether he learned a lesson about not getting so far away from his team: "Yes. And it was my mistake. It was a slow process over four years. At the time I made the decision [to not be def. coordinator], I believed it was necessary, and I was overwhelmed as a head coach trying to get more help. And easy success can have you glance over some things that maybe should be addressed earlier. But when you are winning so many games, the urgency or the felt need wasn't the same. And it was no one's fault but my own." On what he saw in Matt Marshall this week to cause him to involve Marshall more: "It is what we have seen in Matt for a couple of years. We have had him scripted in a couple of weeks, but the games just didn't lend themselves to having his number called as much. But we love Matt." On whether there was a signature play call on his part: "I don't think that I did anything. But the last three plays that San Diego State had the ball, that was a signature moment maybe for this defense. Again, I don't think it was me. I think it was them, and they did exactly what they were supposed to do, which was fun to see." On plays calls he made on SDSU's last offensive series: "Pressure. All three were different pressures. And after playing them last year, and seeing how they ran through our zones and over the top of us, we didn't want to give them that much time. So it was quite a bit of blending pressure and then dropping eight and then stuff in between. It was kind of a variety." On how long they can celebrate, with TCU coming up: "Oh, they should celebrate it all the way through tonight and Sunday, and then come back to work Monday. And that's what I intend to do. This one was hard. It was hard to get this one. To just glance over it, no way. This was a meaningful victory to me, and our team." On how J.J. DiLuigi played: "He just played tough, and it is hard for me to separate any of the backs. But man, between Kariya and Josh Quezada and J.J. it just seemed like they ran effectively with very few minus-yardage plays, and it was fun to watch....They ran very hard. If you want to see what to look for, to see how hard a team is trying, yards after contact, players to the ball, how much they are celebrating with each other, and how much they are involved in the game. Those things all demonstrate heart."