He was talking about linebacker Spencer Hadley.
"It felt amazing to be out there again with the guys again and contribute" said Hadley. "We had a good night as a defense and it’s a lot of fun to play in a game like that. It’s good to be back...it’s just good to be back."
If you didn’t notice Hadley playing on Saturday it may have been because each jersey one of the three core values of the BYU football program on the back--Tradition, Spirit, or Honor. Even if you didn’t notice him on the field Georgia Tech’s offense sure did, especially GT’s quarterback Vad Lee after Hadley sacked him for 9 yards.
Mendenhall continued to praise Hadley’s effort, "He’s experienced, he’s tough, he’s athletic, and he cares a lot, and he plays with his heart."
Now that Hadley’s suspension is behind him he, and the team, can ride on their momentum and fully focus on entering each game with guns blazin’. Hadley's complete stat line read: 4 tackles, 1 sack, 1.5 tackles for loss, 1 fumble recovery, and 1 quarterback hurry.
But Hadley wasn’t the only linebacker to make a big return against the Yellow Jackets.
Struggling on offense and only being up by 11 points in the fourth quarter BYU was looking for something to get the momentum back and put the game away. Alani Fua read Vad Lee’s eyes and jumped up to snatch the interception high in the air and returned the ball untouched for six points.
It was Fua’s first career interception and touchdown, and exactly what the Cougars needed to get the game back in their hands. This was evident as the offense rallied to score one more touchdown. After gaining less than 20 yards on all its second half possessions, the BYU offense drove 69 yards on its next possession to score a touchdown and put the game away for sure.
But it doesn’t stop there for BYU’s linebackers.
How could we forget Kyle Van Noy? Georgia Tech sure couldn’t.
Van Noy hasn't missed any games this season. He didn't have another interception or fumble return for a touchdown, but his pass rushing prowess did return against Georgia Tech.
Van Noy was among the nation's leaders last year with 13 sacks. Through five games this season, he had just one. Against the Yellow Jackets, he reminded everyone why he’s a preseason All-American with 3 sacks totaling 20 yards in losses.
These numbers alone can’t describe the amount of mental degradation that his defensive prowess laid on GT’s offense. It was his pressure on another play that resulted in Lee stepping right into Hadley's arms for a sack. They won’t forget Van Noy and his insane pass rush anytime soon.
Now that the second half of the season is set to begin, and the Cougars are riding high on energy, you can look to see this elite core of linebackers to be a major focus for opposing teams for the remainder of the year.
By Tanner Spear