This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
If you are expecting BYU football coach Bronco Mendenhall to publicly announce his starting quarterback for the Poinsettia Bowl any time before the day of the game, Dec. 20, don't hold your breath. Mendenhall said after practice Wednesday night that he will probably do what he has done in the past, and that is to announce the starter right before kickoff. As far as Wednesday's practice went, Mendenhall said James Lark took the majority of the reps. "And he did a nice job," Mendenhall said. "t will be mostly that way through the week as Riley [Nelson] continues to kinda recover. [Nelson's] reps could increase and probably will increase as the week goes." Wednesday marked the last time reporters will be able to talk to Mendenhall or BYU players until next Monday, when the team practices in San Diego. The coach said the team's schedule is so packed with practices and activities beginning Monday that he probably won't have time to surf, his favorite pastime. He also said that the players are getting eager to play a game, after practicing hard for three straight days. "Oh, they want to play," he said of BYU's defenders. "They recognize it is going to be a tough challenge. San Diego State runs the ball really well, and scores a lot of points, and wins games. So yeah, they are trying real hard." A few more Mendenhall comments from Wednesday's practice: On what the D-line has to do vs. SDSU:"Similar to the way they played probably, I would say against Boise State, Georgia Tech, Notre Dame. It is going to be that type of game for them. So those are the comparisons we are using." On where this BYU defense ranks among those he's seen at BYU: "Man, I am not sure. Similar in culture and effort and attitude, with more talent, I would say. More playmakers, and real strong camaraderie. I couldn't tell you statistically, or in relation to other defenses, but man, I think they are pretty special."On what the difference this year is for SDSU: "Oh I think Rocky [Long's] influence. He has a toughness and a mindset that has permeated the whole team. They play hard on both sides of the ball. ....Offensive line finishes blocks, and then defensively, they all try hard, so it is that he has been able to instill a toughness and a workmanlike mentality at a place that wasn't known for that. They were known more for skill and speed, and he has given them a real hardnosed identity." On this BYU defense setting the bar high for the future: "Yeah, I mean, it is going to be imperative with the teams we are going to be playing, with the exposure, in the stadiums that we are playing in, and the movement we are looking for for our program. Regardless of what stage, we are capable, as we have been this year, to win every game on our schedule. And playing good defense has a ton to do with that."