#44 BYU Football 2015 Preview

Brigham Young Cougars

Overall Rank: #44
#2 FBS Independents

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Brigham Young started fast, getting off to a 4-0 start last season. But after losing Taysom Hill for the season to injury in the Utah State game, the Cougars were never the same. They went on a rare four game losing streak. BYU brings back an experienced group that will be looking to atone for the Miami Beach Bowl loss to Memphis. The capper to the Miami Beach Bowl was a bench clearing brawl with the Tigers that left a very bad taste in the Cougars mouths in the offseason.

2014 Record: 8-5
2014 Bowl: Miami Beach Bowl vs. Memphis (L 48-55)
Coach: Bronco Mendenhall 90-39 at Brigham Young, 90-39 overall
Offensive Coordinator: Robert Anae
Defensive Coordinator: Nick Howell

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Taysom Hill, QB, 542 yards
Passing: Taysom Hill, QB, 975 yards
Receiving: Mitch Matthews, WR, 922 yards
Tackles: Manoa Pikula, LB, 49
Sacks: Bronson Kaufusi, DL, 7.0
Interceptions: Kai Nacua, DB, 2

Other Key Returnees: RB Jamaal Williams, NT Travis Tuiloma, CB Michael Davis
OT Ryker Mathews, KR/RB Adam Hine, PK Trevor Samson

Key Losses: QB Christian Stewart, WR Jordan Leslie, RB Paul Lasike, DB Skye Povey, P Scott Arrellano, WR Ross Apo, LB Zac Stout

Scoring points has never been a problem for BYU and they averaged just over 37 points per game despite the loss of Taysom Hill. Getting Jamaal Williams back will also be a huge plus in the backfield as Williams, when healthy, can definitely be a 1,000 yard plus type of running back. If Brigham Young is going to survive the opening gauntlet of Nebraska, Boise State, UCLA and Michigan they are going are going to have to be balanced offensively. Bronson Kaufusi is going to be one of the better defensive linemen in the country and his production is going to be vital for the Cougars to improve defensively in 2015. Kaufusi had 7.0 sacks and will team up with nose tackle Travis Tuiloma to cause plenty of havoc at the line of scrimmage.

The Cougars have got to protect the quarterback better in 2015. Opposing teams had nearly three sacks per game against Brigham Young last year and that can’t repeat itself in 2015. There is talent on the offensive line that is capable of protecting the quarterback at a higher level. Offensive Tackle Ryker Matthews and center Tejan Koroma will need to have national award winning caliber seasons in order to keep Taysom Hill healthy and if the Cougars want to win ten games in 2015. The secondary also has to better in 2015. The Cougars had one of the worst pass defenses in all of college football. It will be up to Michael Davis and Kai Nacua to create more big plays with interceptions to set up short field scenarios for what should be a very explosive offensive attack this season.

The Bottom Line:
The month of September will define the 2015 season for the Cougars. The season opens with three of four on the road starting at Nebraska, home to Boise State, and then consecutive trips to UCLA and Michigan. If BYU can go 2-2 or 3-1 they will be in prime position to make a run at a nine or ten win season. The key is going to be staying healthy and being in the right frame of mind mentally after that four game gauntlet. With a much healthier offensive attack, the Cougars will score points without any problem against everyone that is on their schedule. The difference is going to be defensively and whether or not they buy in to coach Mendenhall overseeing the defense this season. Another thing for the defense is going to be finding a way to get off to a fast start against the tough September schedule to gain confidence against teams that will be works in progress to varying degrees offensively with new quarterbacks, schemes and staffs.

Projected Bowl: Hawaii Bowl

2014 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 181.8 (47th in nation, 3rd in conference)
Passing Offense: 278.7 (26, 2)
Total Offense: 460.5 (26, 1)
Scoring Offense: 37.1 (14, 1)
Rushing Defense: 121.8 (20, 1)
Pass Defense: 269.7 (112, 4)
Total Defense: 391.5 (56, 1)
Scoring Defense: 27.5 (71, 2)
Turnover Margin: -0.08 (66, 2)
Sacks: 2.08 (68, 1)
Sacks Allowed: 2.77 (100, 4)


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