4. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE BYU DEFENSE
– Fantastic last year, the Cougars finished 18th in the nation in total defense despite the lack of a steady pass rush. The secondary was strong, the run defense helped up well – allowing 130 yards per game – and in all, allowed more than 21 points just four times. There’s just enough talent coming back to keep it all going.
– Corbin Kaufusi is done on the line and leading tackler Sione Takitaki is gone from the linebacking corps, but seven of the next eight tacklers are back. The line isn’t going to get into the backfield, but around 340-pound Khyiris Tonga, there’s great bulk up front. It won’t be that disruptive a line, but good luck running on this group.
– Around junior Isaiah Kaufusi, the linebacking corps has a whole lot of promise and potential on the outside. Now the stars have to emerge on the inside, with Trajan Pili and Jackson Kaufusi needing to grow into volume-tackling stars. The safety combination of Austin Lee and Dayan Ghanwoloku, if he doesn’t move to corner, is going to be fabulous as the year goes on – they’ll combine for well over 100 stops – but the corners have to come up with more big plays and picks after doing next to nothing last year.