#27 BYU Football 2012 Preview

Brigham Young Cougars

Overall Rank: #27
#2 Independents
BYU College Football 2012 Team Preview
BYU Team Page


After years in the Mountain West conference, BYU went independent in 2011.  They were clearly the class of the four schools that do not affiliate with a conference.  Bronco Mendenhall and BYU have had some stellar seasons in Provo.  The 2011 season was no different.  After starting a shaky 1-2, the Cougars won nine of their last ten games to finish with 10 wins and a bowl victory over Tulsa.  Their wins were convincing and their losses were frustrating.  And 2012 shapes up to be more of the same. Returning quarterback Riley Nelson leads the offense and junior linebacker Kyle Van Noy leads the defense.

2011 Record: (10-3)
2011 Bowl: Armed Forces Bowl (W 24-21)
Coach: Bronco Mendenhall (66-24 at BYU and overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Brandon Doman
Defensive Coordinator:  Bronco Mendenhall    

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Michael Alisa, RB, 455 yards
Passing: Riley Nelson, QB, 1,717 yards
Receiving: Cody Hoffman, WR, 943 yards
Tackles: Brandon Ogletree, LB, 76
Sacks: Kyle Van Noy, LB, 7
Interceptions: Kyle Van Noy, LB, 3

Other Key Returnees: OL Branden Hansen, DL Ian Dulan, LB Uona Kaveinga, DB Preston Hadley, K Justin Sorensen

Key Losses: RB J.J. Di Luigi, RB Bryan Kariya, DB Corby Eason

BYU was pretty solid all-around in most categories.  They led the independents in eight separate categories.  Defensively, they were a strong squad last year.  They only gave up 119 yards on the ground per game.  More importantly, they held teams to only 20 points per game.  Outside of a lopsided loss to rival Utah, they kept most teams in check.  Linebacker Kyle Van Noy is the vital cog to their defensive package.  He led the teams in sacks and interceptions.  Nelson had a great year in part because of the beef out in front of him, his line held up for him.  He did not go down very often (just over once per game).  

The biggest issue for BYU last season was their turnovers.  Despite winning 10 games, they had a negative turnover ratio.  Though it did not cost them most of the season, it is dangerous to be on the wrong end of a turnover battle.  They were not terrible in rushing, but they were not great either (160 yards per game).  They lose their leading rusher after 2011.  On defense they would like to get after the quarterback a little more.  They were strong in the front seven, but they had trouble with sacks.  They averaged under two sacks per game.  Against bigger opponents, pressure is everything.  They barely lost to Texas and got walloped by Utah.  More pressure could mean more wins.

The Bottom Line:
There is no reason to believe that BYU will take a step back in 2012.  Riley Nelson returns to lead an offense that had a great deal of success last year.  He loses his number one rusher, but Michael Alisa looks like a viable replacement.  After Bronco Mendenhall took over the defense a few seasons ago, they have locked down on opposing offenses.  Their schedule sets up for them to win plenty of games in 2012.  They even have an outside shot at a BCS bowl.  It will not be easy with the LSUs and USCs of the world, but 10 wins seems extremely likely.  Look for Nelson to have a big year.

Projected Bowl:  Poinsettia Bowl

2011 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 160.31 (55th in nation, 4th in conference)
Passing Offense:  245.38 (47, 2)
Total Offense: 405.69 (41, 2)
Scoring Offense: 30.08 (42, 1)
Rushing Defense: 112.46 (19, 1)
Pass Defense: 200.92 (32, 2)
Total Defense: 313.38 (13, 1)
Scoring Defense: 20.38 (22, 1)
Turnover Margin: -.15 (74, 2)
Sacks: 1.85 (68, 2)
Sacks Allowed: 1.31 (T26, 3)