Provo • It is way too early to panic, BYU football coach Bronco Mendenhall said Monday after his team practiced for the first time since Saturday's devastating 20-13 loss to rival Utah. The loss dropped BYU to 1-2 and put its bowl eligibility in question, given the difficult schedule that lies ahead.
"I think we can all acknowledge that we have been here before, and I am not sending any flares off, nor hitting the panic button," said Mendenhall, whose teams have started 1-2 five times in his nine years. "We have been 1-4 before, and we have yet to be excluded from a bowl game. We always find a way to be resilient and win, because that's who our players are."
Mendenhall described the program and himself as trying to expand "scheme and strategy" with the hope of being better than they were before.
"And three weeks is probably [not long enough] to say how well it will work." he said.
Why they lost
After reviewing film of the rivalry game, Mendenhall said he told his team Monday that it came down to BYU's failure to score in the red zone.
He "let them know that my take on the game was our team earned more chances to score and win the game than our opponent through field position, and really through short fields. We earned that chance, but didn't take advantage of those chances when we got them," he said.
BYU was 3 for 5 on red-zone opportunities, with a touchdown and two field goals; Utah was 4 for 4 with two field goals and two touchdowns.
Apo injured again
BYU receiver Ross Apo said he re-injured his surgically repaired shoulder in the week leading up to the opener, and that is why his playing time has been so limited. He played in only one series against Utah "and coaches just told me to shut it down."
However, the junior believes he will be able to play against Middle Tennessee State on Friday.
More on Hadley suspension
Mendenhall said that although the school suspended linebacker Spencer Hadley five games for violating the honor code, his suspension of the senior could go longer. But he doesn't believe it will.
"I have given Spence pretty specific criteria that I would like to see met at the end, now, of the university suspension," Mendenhall said. "I didn't have a limit when I said that, but at the end of those five weeks, if he has met my criteria for him, then, man, I can't wait to have him back. If he hasn't, then it could be a little bit longer. I don't anticipate that, though."
Mendenhall said running back Jamaal Williams is "day-to-day" after spending Saturday night in the hospital with a concussion and severe stinger. He said Williams has no neck or skeletal damage, but will have to pass concussion protocol to return to action, which "could be anywhere from four days to two weeks."… The Cougars are now 1-6 in games decided by seven points or fewer since 2012. They were 18-2 in such close games between 2006 and 2011. … The Cougars are running a play every 17.5 seconds, fastest in the nation.
Middle Tennessee State at BYU
P Friday, 7 p.m.
TV • ESPNU