In many ways, Utah State’s defense may be the toughest BYU has faced so far this season.
Gary Andersen is sure to apply the pressure to BYU freshman QB Taysom Hill, the expected starter for tonight’s game in LaVell Edwards Stadium. USU’s biggest enhancement under Andersen has been recruitment of strong, beefy D-linemen and quick, solid linebackers. This, along with good cover corners, allows him to create a lot of different looks and apply pressure.
Here’s a scouting report on USU’s defense from BYU offensive coordinator Brandon Doman this week.
“They are really well coached and I believe players play fast when they know what to do. These guys know what to do, they know their assignments and its a good scheme. Its a similar scheme to what we’ve seen, similar to our defense except they use a lot of cover one, cover man. So, the combination of the zone and the man which we saw against Hawaii, is what we’ll see.”
Doman expects USU will deploy a lot of man coverage, protecting the box against the run and believing they can handle BYU receivers one-on-one. This may be (my thoughts) because of the youthful and inexperienced Hill, and/or the ailing Riley Nelson they face.
“If Taysom’s playing, (Doman said this Monday) it will be an attempt to stop the run. I didn’t see a concerted effort by Hawaii to stop the run. I think we’ll see a concerted effort by these guys to stop the run. It will help us in the pass game.”
Doman said BYU’s shuffle of offensive linemen appears to be a productive move. He has hopefully seen a change (since Hawaii was weak defensively) since he challenged them in a different way after the loss at Boise State.
“I explained a little more clearly what we wanted them to do, how we wanted them to do it. Our staff made a few changes (Branden Hansen at center, Famika Anae and Manaaki Vaitai at guards). It changed the culture a little bit up front. We’ve found three guards who want to play physical and do their assignments.”
Doman said coaches have preached being assignment sound with maximum effort and physical play but sometimes, like what parents do with their kids, they haven’t held players accountable like they should have. “Accountability, discipline and effort, is what coach Mendenhall is all about. I thought we were making progress, getting better, better and better on offense the past eight years but I’m not sure we’ve reached that standard yet.”
My opinion over the ballyhoo of Bronco comments of support and admiration for much injured senior quarterback Riley Nelson? Mendenhall has never provided any of those quotes unless asked or prodded by reporters in interview situations. The fixation on Nelson status updates has been a product of inquiries after games and practices and Mendenhall has responded.
I think where Mendenhall ignites quote issues is when he speaks in absolutes; Riley is this or that or announcing he went for two instead of one is absolutely what he would do every time. Couching comments with an out or flexibility instead of a black and white narrative would serve him better, although I like his frankness, it is refreshing. Many veteran head coaches deliver to the media an artfully crafted coachspeak in interviews. Its a non-committal set of answers with an escape parachute deployed to prevent them from being pinned down.
When asked about an issue, like is Riley’s status, some coaches would answer that the QB struggled mightily, was playing hurt, and hopefully they’ll recover and be OK and looking back, a change might have been more wise an action, “We’ll have to see,” they would say. But with Mendenhall, he kind of likes to toy with the asker of the question by saying things like: “He’s our man, he’s the guy, I expect he’ll give it all every time forever and he’s the starter.” And then people go nuts and believe him stupid. Privately, I think he enjoys this line of response because its an absolute and not expected.
Mendenhall speaks this way because its what make him tick. And what makes him tick is an absolute way of thinking like actions taken by one of his heros, the Spartan King Leonidas and his 300 in the Battle of Thermopylae against the Persian army.
Many hear Mendenhall at times and might read about the battle of Thermopylae and think speaking in absolutes or taking 300 men into a suicide stand is dumb, stupid and non-productive. To this guy, it is what you do.
Mendenhall has always spoken to reporters in a frank matter and something in his DNA lends him to absolute-ism.
I think any QB playing time, establishment of starting roles at QB, or the replacement of a QB for performance with this BYU staff starts and ends with Doman. It is his wheelhouse to operate.
Mendenhall expects Doman to handle QB decisions, then hold him accountable for the results.