This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2010, and information in the article may be outdated.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.
It's no surprise, really, but BYU football coach Bronco Mendenhall reiterated in today's MWC coaches teleconference that he would like to continue the Cougars' football series with UNLV. BYU plays the Rebels Saturday at LaVell Edwards Stadium. The reason is simple: Lots of BYU fans live in the Las Vegas area, as evidenced by the huge turnout the Cougars get when they make their annual appearance in the Las Vegas Bowl. Here's the coach's response when asked by a Las Vegas newspaper columnist if he wants the rivalry to continue: "I would like to have a game with our Mountain West opponents hopefully on a yearly basis, as far as filling in our schedule. Whether they feel the same way, I am not certain. But I think that would be nice to be able to, if not on a yearly basis, at least continue some of those natural rivalries. One of the things, as far as our future scheduling, is I am really working hard to make sure that we play in all different parts of the country where the LDS faith is gathered so there can be a connection between our team and the members of the church. Las Vegas is just a fantastic place where I would like to be able to return as frequently as possible, just because of that point. There are other places in the country that have similar bases. So it might not be annual now, but it will be nice to be able to visit, whether it is every two or three years, just to make sure that connection is made. I sure appreciate the support the fans have given us, especially in the Vegas bowls."- Along with losing five games, all by 14 points or more, Mendenhall has fired his defensive coordinator and dismissed a highly visible player this year. But he said Tuesday that this season hasn't been any more difficult on him than the previous five. "Each one has come with its own set of trials. Probably from a visibility standpoint, this would appear to be the most trying," he said. "But I can't say it has been more trying than other seasons I've had. Again, it is just more visible. The benefit of that is I have probably learned more this year than I have in the other seasons." Will the trials pay off down the road? "I hope not only those players, but I hope our program will be better. And if I can continue to learn the lessons I need to learn, and apply them correctly, then hopefully this particular year will propel our team past what it could have been without it. That's what I am committed to do," he said. - More of Mendenhall's comments from today's teleconference: On how productive the bye week was and where the Cougars got better: "Hard to say until we actually play another football game. I think we are a little bit healthier than we were, as opposed to if we had played another football game. I think that we are certainly eager to play another game. I think that would have been the case anyway. I think we had a chance to correct maybe a few things in terms of scheme and strategy that haven't been as productive, and eliminate some things, or add to some things that had been. So we had a chance to do a little scheme work as well, and hopefully that will show up on Saturday." On whether UNLV having played well in the past in Provo is something he's talking to the team about: "I think rather than just the history, I think our team has a pretty healthy respect for the capabilities of UNLV, and always has. So it has never been a matter of overlooking or anything else. I just think UNLV has some capabilities that are always difficult for us, and present challenges, and this year is no different." On whether there were any particular areas that needed to be addressed during the bye week: "Again, in terms of the result, it is going to be hard to say. But we did spend more time on throwing and catching the football. We did spend more time on working against each other, rather than just healing, and trying to just continue the season and get our football team playing at a higher level in terms of experience. I would say we worked on competitive work, and throwing and catching the football. Now whether that shows or not, we will probably have to wait until Saturday to determine if we took a jump or not." On how dangerous a team like UNLV can be: "I think that any team is dangerous. I think any team at any time can beat anyone else. Again, my focus really hasn't been on UNLV that much. It has been on our own team as we have a lot of areas to continue to work on. I am sure UNLV will play very hard and that's what I hope our team does. I think execution at the end of the day will be what is most important. Hopefully, I have coached our team in a manner that they can execute at least one more play than our opponent. But that's why we play the game."