BYU football coach Bronco Mendenhall tries to set the tone for the week when he meets with his team each Monday, and yesterday was no different after the weekend's crushing 20-13 loss to Utah. It was a devastating loss for BYU because it was the fourth straight to the Utes, but also because the two teams aren't scheduled to meet again until 2016. And the Cougars likely will never have more things working in their favor before a rivalry game. They were touchdown favorites, coming off a bye week, and playing on their home field.
"I had an extended team meeting to go over where I thought we were currently as a program," Mendenhall said, and later talked about a "dose of reality, of urgency, of getting the execution to match the opportunity."
But when asked later where he believes BYU is as a football program, Mendenhall veered from reality, it would appear.
You might even say the coach was a bit delusional.
"I think we are one of the best in the country, at least if you consider top 25 consistently," he said. "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. 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.
I think we are a consistent winner. I think we are a program and a head coach that is expanding their scheme and strategy with the hope of being better than we've been. And three weeks is probably [not long enough] to say how well it will work."
Wait. What? Top 25 consistently?
The Cougars haven't been in the AP Top 25 since they were there for one week (25th, before the Utah game) in 2012. Before that, they ended the 2011 season ranked in the coaches poll (after beating Tulsa in the Armed Forces Bowl), the only week they were ranked that entire year. They were never ranked in 2010.
Perhaps Bronco is stuck in the "glory years" of his tenure; The Cougars were ranked in the AP Top 25 six weeks in 2006, four weeks in 2007, 17 weeks in 2008 and 15 weeks in 2009.
A couple more excerpts from Bronco's media briefing that weren't included in this report in today's Tribune:
"After looking at the film, and a full day of practice today, our team was very disappointed after the loss and saddened by it. But also I think the best medicine now is to have a game that is one day earlier than what we normally play, and be forced to get right back to work.
I was impressed by the practice habits today, and the resiliency and am looking forward to getting back to work. So that's the temperament and mood that I saw today."
On whether coaches may slow down the offense because of receiver drops:
"No. What I am encouraged [about] more than anything is for the pace to remain the same, and the execution to catch up with it. What I have seen is opponents substituting seven or eight guys at a time 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 the program."
On being last in the country in passing efficiency:
"Yeah, there is only one way to go, and that's up. And our focus has been predominately to be able to run the football, and be able to pass it in a complementary nature. Accuracy of throwing, plus catching it consistently, I think is just simply where it is. That's where we need to improve."
On how officials are assigned for BYU home games:
"I think there is a roulette wheel, and they … no, just kidding. When we play a Pac-12 opponent, we have Pac-12 officials, is what I understand. When we don't have a Pac-12 opponent, and when it is a home game, we usually get our officials, which are Big 12 officials, even though we are not in the Big 12."
On whether that is stipulated by the Pac-12:
"It is. I think they are the only conference in the country that has that agreement."
On last year having Big 12, or CFO officials at Utah:
"Must be. You are getting into an area now that as soon as I say more, I won't be exactly sure. I am giving my best guess, from what I have been told."
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