PROVO — When he addressed his team Monday in the wake of last Saturday’s devastating defeat to Utah, BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall called an audible. He had prepared statements to deliver to his players, but after considering what he thought they needed to hear, he decided to stress something positive while also imparting a sense of urgency.
“I stood in front of them and basically let them know that my take on the game was that our team earned more chances to score, and win the game, than our opponent through field position,” Mendenhall said. “But we didn’t take advantage of those opportunities when we got it and that was the difference in the game.”
Given the Cougars' remaining schedule, a sense of urgency is needed, according to Mendenhall. Games include tough road matchups with Notre Dame, Wisconsin and Utah State, along with home dates with Boise State and Georgia Tech, among others.
“There’s a dose of reality, an urgency in getting the execution to match the opportunity,” Mendenhall said.
First up is a game against Middle Tennessee this Friday, which couldn’t come soon enough for the team.
“I think the best medicine now is to have a game earlier than we normally play and be forced to get right back to work,” said Mendenhall. “I was impressed with their practice habits today and the resiliency and how forward (they) were looking on getting back to work.”
The team isn't making any dramatic changes to its "go hard, go fast" offensive system despite Saturday's result. While some outside the program have bailed on the concept, Mendenhall is determined to see it through.
“What I’m encouraging, more than anything, is for the pace to remain the same and for the execution to catch up with it,” Mendenhall said. “What I’ve seen is opponents (making) wholesale substitutions and having a hard time getting on and off the field. When we execute with that tempo — that’s the vision I see for our program.”
No changes at quarterback are anticipated in light of Taysom Hill's continued inaccuracy. More focus on throwing the football in practice will presumably happen, however.
“There’s just one way to go but up,” Mendenhall said of BYU's passing stats. “Our focus has been predominantly to run the football and pass it in a complementary nature. Accuracy of throwing it, and catching it consistently, I think it is where it is and it needs to improve.”
Overall Mendenhall likes his team's chances to rebound like past Mendenhall-coached teams that endured similar starts have.
“I’m not sending any flares off nor hitting the panic button,” Mendenhall said. “We’ve been 1-4 before and we’ve yet to be excluded from a bowl game. We’re always able to find a way to be resilient and win because of who our players are.”
Mendenhall ended Monday's remarks by confidently stating the strengths of BYU's football program.
“I think we are a consistent winner,” Mendenhall continued. “I think we’re a program, and a head coach, that is expanding scheme and strategy with the hope to return even better than we’ve been. Three weeks is probably (too) early ... to say how well that is going to work.”
WILLIAMS ON THE MEND: Jamaal Williams, who was carted off the field after sustaining a concussion and severe stinger Saturday night, is currently listed as day to day. Williams will now follow regular concussion protocol to determine his return. According to Mendenhall, Williams will be out anywhere from four days to two weeks.
HADLEY COULD BE OUT LONGER THAN EXPECTED: Mendenhall said Monday that he suspended linebacker Spencer Hadley indefinitely before BYU's honor code office implemented its own five-week suspension. According to Mendenhall, his indefinite suspension is still in place.
“I’ve given Spence pretty specific criteria I’d like to see met,” he explained. “At the end of those five weeks, if he’s met the criteria I’ve set for him then man, I can’t wait to have him back. If he hasn’t met (the criteria) then it could be a bit longer. But I don’t anticipate that.”