PROVO Despite No. 11 BYU's 4-0 start and recent domination of UCLA and Wyoming, Bronco Mendenhall knows his team has plenty to work on during this bye week.
For one thing, the Cougar coach is concerned about the offense's slow start against the Cowboys, and it's something he is addressing. In the first quarter, BYU gained only 40 yards of total offense.
"There was some edge that came off of us from the UCLA game to the Wyoming game on the offensive side of the ball," Mendenhall said. "With the experience, the confidence, the success that we've had and with (the offense) carrying some of the early load, I think possibly there was some higher expectation that this might be easy. I saw some signs of this early in the game.
"Please give Wyoming credit as well, because they are a good defense and they had a really nice plan. That could be one of the best things that happened to us at this stage, is that just because we're successful, talented and having our confidence grow, that doesn't mean every week is going to be easy and that just by presenting yourself out there will you be able to race up and down the field."
Quarterback Max Hall said the lesson he learned from the 44-0 victory over Wyoming was that the offense can't get overconfident or complacent.
"It showed we can't just show up," Hall said. "We can't go through the motions. It keeps us humble and it keeps us hungry."
On the other hand, Hall added, the defense helped pick up the offense by keeping the Cowboys scoreless and scoring two touchdowns.
"The type of team we have right now, if we're struggling in one area, we have guys on our team that are able to pick up the slack," Hall said. "On Saturday, that was our defense. Those guys played great and caused turnovers. We have a very good football team. When both sides are clicking, like you saw against UCLA, you see what happens."
Mendenhall is pleased with the effort of his defense, which has not allowed any points in the last eight quarters of play. Going into the season, he acknowledged, expectations were not as high for the defense as they were for the offense.
"There were a lot of questions. They're methodically improving and improving and anxious to do their part and contribute," Mendenhall said of the defense. "Not only are they managing the points, but they're also adding key turnovers, which has separated the scores the past two weeks.
"If you were to say why have the scores been so dominant, it's the turnovers that you would point to. (Defensive coordinator Jaime) Hill has really emphasized that from last spring on, knowing that might be one of the key things that helps us while the defense is growing. I feel good about the direction they're going. There's still some improvement to make."
MAX EXPOSURE: Since he threw seven touchdown passes against UCLA, Hall has been sought after by the national media for interviews. As a result, Mendenhall has limited the amount of time Hall spends with the media. Hall will answer questions on Mondays and Tuesdays only.
"I'm not saying Max is any more important or less important than anyone else on his team," Mendenhall said. "But the demands that have been placed upon him are disproportionate. I feel like now I need to make sure that I do my part to help him with that."
Hall said his media schedule had taken a toll on him.
"It was just new. It was something I had never experienced before," Hall said. "Not only the national media, but the volume of it. It was just something I needed to adjust to. We've made some adjustments in how we're going to handle it and how we're going to do things, which will work out better. I've never been put in the spotlight like that.
"It comes with it and it's good for us. The attention we can use for good to represent our program and the things we're doing right now. But, again, you can't get caught up in it and you can't focus on it too much."
RESTING UP: The main priority during the bye week, Mendenhall said, is getting healthy. Hall, who has not been officially sacked this season, said he feels great at this point of the season.
"I've gotten hit every once in a while after a pass, but nothing close to what I experienced last year," he said. "This week, for me, it's really to clear my mind, refocus and regroup, spend time with my wife.""It's time to get ready for Utah State and then get ready for the rest of conference play. There are some guys on our team that are banged up. This bye week comes at a good time for them to rest up and get their bodies ready to play again. For me, it's more mental than anything, preparing for the rest of the season."
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