BYU football preview for 2016, including keys to success for the Cougars, best players and season prediction.
What You Need To Know About The BYU Offense
Offensive quarterback Ty Detmer has one of the nation’s most interesting quarterback derbies to play around with thanks to the return of Taysom Hill for one final season. He’s the all-around baller, while Tanner Mangum is the passer – they’ll both see their share of time. But are the receivers in place to take advantage of the great situation? The Cougars lose a ton of big-time production.
Also back is RB Jamaal Williams after being shelved all of last year for violating team rules. There’s more help to carry the mail, but he’s the main man whose role and workload depends on who’s at quarterback. The line will blast away helped by veteran bulk on the outside.
Biggest Key To The BYU Offense
Find the ground game again. That all went away with Taysom Hill knocked out for the year. The Cougars managed a mere 1,668 yards and 28 touchdowns, mostly because Tanner Mangum was in charge of bombing away. Now with Jamaal Williams back along with most of the top rushers from last year, the Cougars should be able to grind it out when needed.
Last season BYU was 6-1 when hitting the 100-yard mark, only losing to UCLA in the 24-23 thriller. The more balance to the revamped O, the better.
What You Need To Know About The BYU Defense
Ilaisa Tuiaki handled the linebackers at Oregon State and now he’s the defensive coordinator with the veteran producers to do big things in the corps. Harvey Langi on the inside and Fred Warner outside gives the Cougars a great base to work around – the linebackers will be a major plus.
The 3-4 defense is being changed around to a 4-3, but Bronson Kaufusi is gone from one end. Travis Tuiloma is the rock to work around in the middle, but the pressure has to come from several spots from a D that came up with 40 sacks last season.
The secondary should be fantastic with three starters back highlighted by do-it-all safety Kai Nacua. If the pass rush can do what it did last season, the defensive backs will have it easy.
Biggest Key To The BYU Defense
The new alignment has to hold its own against the run on a regular basis. The Cougars were able to do a decent job against most of the decent ground games – stopping Utah for 126 yards, but three scores in the bowl loss – and now they’re going to have to get ready to be pounded on and blown past with all the killer rushing attacks to start the season.
They allowed 190 yards or more four times, beating Utah State, but losing to UCLA, Michigan and Missouri. Staying in control of games against the big guys is a must.
BYU Will Be Far Better If …
The quarterback situation isn’t a problem. Hill and Mangum are two different types of star playmakers, and while there might not be a wrong answer, it’ll be tempting for one to look over his shoulder whenever he gets a shot. Hill is still the man, but this is a new coaching staff without the same loyalties. In what’s sure to be a trying start to the season at times, the starter has to be solid.
Best BYU Offensive Player
QB Taysom Hill, Sr. – Or Tanner Mangum. And maybe throw in RB Jamaal Williams for good measure. The Cougars are loaded with veteran options in the backfield, but they haven’t been able to count on them all lately. If Hill is right, and if he’s really back to form, he’s the one who can carry the team on his back by himself. With the receiving corps so iffy, he might be the better option than Mangum.
Best BYU Defensive Player
S Kai Nacua, Sr. – The Cougars have several excellent linebackers to get excited about, and there are a few good veterans up front and in the secondary ready to shine, but it’s Nacua who should be the difference-maker again. A do-it-all defender, he’s a solid last line of defense against the run, and he proved he can be deadly when teams – like Boise State and Fresno State, last season – keep testing him.
Key Player To A Successful Season
WR Nick Kurtz, Sr. – The Cougars lose three of their top four receivers, but they get back Mitchell Juergens along with the 6-6 Kurtz. The team’s third-leading receiver, Kurtz came up with 39 catches for 578 yards and three scores, averaging close to 15 yards per grab. If he’s not the go-to No. 1 guy, Juergens needs to be.
The BYU Season Will Be A Success If …
There really is a trip to the Poinsettia Bowl. With this schedule, even if BYU is terrific, just getting through with a winning season will be an accomplishment. Forget about any College Football Playoff dreams – can the Cougars win six games with it’s absolutely impossible schedule to deal with? Good luck.
Sept. 10 at Utah – With no conference title to play for, and the bowl fate already sealed, the Cougars need the big moments when they can get them. None will get more attention than the Holy War at Utah, trying to get revenge after last season’s scintillating bowl loss. Lose this, and with several big boys still to play, it could be a long first half of the season.
2015 BYU Fun Stats
– First Quarter Scoring: Opponents 103 – BYU 83
– Fourth Quarter Scoring: BYU 141 – Opponents 68
– Red-Zone Scoring: BYU 50-of-53 (94%) – Opponents 34-of-44 (77%)
2016 BYU Season Prediction
What’s going to happen to BYU this season? Check out what the final record is going to be …