It not only left a bad taste in my mouth, but I don’t like seeing our seniors go out that way and I don‘t like that feeling in the offseason having lost that last game. —BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall

PROVO — BYU ended last season on a sour note, suffering a 31-16 loss to Washington in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. The loss left a bit of a bad taste in the Cougars' mouths.

They've been fighting to get rid of it.

“It not only left a bad taste in my mouth, but I don’t like seeing our seniors go out that way and I don‘t like that feeling in the offseason having lost that last game,” said BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall. “So I think the urgency that it added is very helpful, but also exposed a few things personnel-wise and depth-wise and certainly special teams-wise (with) the number of players you have playing at this tempo at the end of the year.”

To remedy those issues, Mendenhall plans on using more players this coming year.

“Our freshmen may play up to 22 plays a game — our true freshmen coming in,” Mendenhall said. “So we need more bodies, more players and more people to contribute.”

WILL OVER SKILL: Mendenhall is big on slogans, but perhaps his most oft-repeated slogan hasn't come to light until this spring. Several assistants have mentioned the phrase "will over skill," which is something Mendenhall has stressed to his players since arriving at BYU as a defensive coordinator more than a decade ago.

“Since I’ve been here, I’ve never made it public. It’s just something I talk to my team about quite frequently,” Mendenhall said. “I think that what you can control is how hard you try, so I like trying to see guys try hard. (Players have) heard it a thousand times this spring (and) maybe a million times since I’ve been here, but I just haven’t put it on the billboard."

Email: bgurney@desnews.com

Twitter: @BrandonCGurney