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September 17, 2014

Mike London

COACH LONDON:  We're preparing hard for a very, very good BYU football team.  Going out to their place.  We'll be traveling out there.  But the players are excited about this opportunity to play against another top‑25 team.  Coach Mendenhall has done a fantastic job over the years with BYU.  Again, we look forward to this battle, looking to go play a good game.
Any questions now, please.

Q.  Mike, you mentioned Monday that you were impressed with BYU's punt return team.  Your special teams have excelled all year, except with the possibility of your punt coverage.  Has there been one primary issue?  Has it been straying from lanes, not shedding blocks?
COACH LONDON:  Well, I'll use an example as far as being in the top 10 in the country in kickoff returns.  When you have a big kickoff return like Darius Jennings had, it makes your overall average go up.  When you have one big punt return, it makes your average go up.  You spend the rest of your time making sure the guys are in the proper lane, the punter kicks the ball where he needs to kick it.  The communication that goes on out there.  There's enough of little things that accumulate to a big things if you don't do the little things right.
We spent a lot of time in practice this week, we'll do it again tomorrow, to make sure we cover all those little things because we want to minimize any of the those issues that may affect us.

Q.  Mike, you said you didn't get any questions about the quarterbacks Monday, so I'll give you one.  Are you committed to playing two quarterbacks in this game or is it now a play‑it‑by‑ear type situation?
COACH LONDON:  It will be a play‑it‑by‑ear situation.  But both quarterbacks practice with the first and second team.  They take all the reps.  We're committed to putting the best quarterback, the best guy that can handle the situation as the game unfolds.

Q.  You would stick with a hot hand rather than just follow a preset substitution pattern?
COACH LONDON:  Basically I stick with the guy who is executing the offense best.  If he's doing it, we'll let that ride.
But, again, it's just to see which guy is out there performing the best.

Q.  How do you prepare for the high altitude of Salt Lake City?
COACH LONDON:  There's nothing really you can do to prepare for the high altitude till you get into it.  One of the things that we've been doing a lot of is this whole recovery hydration thing.  When you're flying out there, it's critical that you hydrate.  Their elevation, as far as where they are, is about 4500 feet.  Anything between 4900 feet, we hear football players talk about it's an anaerobic exercise.  We're going to do things on our own schedule, eastern standard time, then wake up in the morning when we need to, get the guys ready to play.
It's not as much worrying about the altitude, being able to breathe, as it is to prepare for it.  Teams travel across the country a lot of times.  We've flown out to USC before.  This is another trip we'll go out and play another really good team on the road.
There's other things we could talk about, don't have time to talk about, that you can do with your players to get ready.  But it's about taking care of your body the best way possible.

Q.  What do you see on the film from BYU that was different from last year?
COACH LONDON:  I mean, there's a lot of similarities.  The biggest thing is their quarterback Hill, he does a fantastic job of running their offense.  Whether he's running the ball, throwing the ball, you see teams so stacked up on him, then the throws the ball.  He see him backed up, he hands the ball off, or has a chance to get it to his play‑maker.
He is a very, very good player.  He's improved a lot, as you hope all guys do when they come back and play another year.  He is definitely a really, really good football player.

Q.  Mike, was hoping maybe you could give us an update on Demetrious Nicholson.  Do you have a timetable when he might be able to help you out in the game going forward?
COACH LONDON:  Again, not at this time.  When there's pertinent news about Tri, when he's going to play or not play, I'll be the first to tell you.  He's in a situation now where he's getting better.  As the season goes on, we want to make sure we're doing the right thing for him, doing the right thing for the program, making sure that we have his best interests first and foremost.
It is getting to that time.  As I said, when we make the decision of whether we're going to medically redshirt him or he's ready to go, then we'll make that known.  But right at this time I'm not ready to say anything.

Q.  In the last two games you have forced 11 turnovers.  Is that a function of something you're doing on defense or is that just a passive thing depending on the mistakes the offense are making?  How responsible are your guys for that kind of margin?
COACH LONDON:  You like to talk about ball disruption all the time, whether it's in the passing lane, knocking down passes.  You like when you have a chance to tackle the quarterback.  It's taught, preached, enforced.  We make cutups of it, talk about it over and over again.  As you see, turnovers being in the plus turnover category, can help your team tremendously.
The guys have really taken heart to the fact that they pride themselves in creating turnovers by the things they've been taught, but also playing fast and hard and aggressive.
It's a mindset that you develop.  The guys right now have done a really good job of doing that.

Q.  Five of those 11 turnovers were pass interceptions.  Does the secondary deserve credit for that or the pass‑rush?
COACH LONDON:  You're talking to an ex D‑line guy.  I'm always talking about the best defense is a pass‑rush.  I think we have two guys that can put pressure on the quarterback.  There's an older group of secondary guys that have done well, with a young guy, Quin Blanding.  So it's both parts of it.  It's the rush, the hurry, and it's also guys positioning themselves in the throwing lanes to get some of those picks.
I give credit to a lot of times the rush in terms of being a good pass defense.

Q.  Mike, reading back on some old stories about George Welsh's humorous relationships with his kickers.  Did you tell Ian Frye anything in particular before he went out and kicked that 42‑yarder the other day?
COACH LONDON:  Yeah, two really big words:  Make it (laughter).

Q.  As far as dealing with the kicking game, you leave it all to Larry?
COACH LONDON:  It's a collaborative effort.  Larry has coaches on the staff that are designated to different positions on each unit, on the four phases of each unit.  He oversees it.  But I'm always going to have input into what we're doing and how we're doing it.
But the whole staff is involved in the special teams because of the coaching parts of it and the finer parts about the specifics of the position.
But Larry has done a great job of coordinating the special teams for us thus far.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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