Brigham Young Cougars 2009 NCAA Football Preview

Brigham Young Cougars

Mountain West Conference


2008 Record: (10-3, 6-2)

2008 Bowl: <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 />Las Vegas Bowl vs. Arizona (L 21-31)

Coach: Bronco Mendenhall (38-13 at BYU, 38-13 overall)

Offensive Coordinator: Robert Anae

Defensive Coordinator: Jamie Hill


Returning Leaders

Rushing: Harvey Unga, RB, 1,132 yards

Passing: Max Hall, QB, 3,957 yards

Receiving: Dennis Pitta, TE, 1,083 yards

Tackles: Matt Bauman, LB, 108

Sacks: Jan Jorgensen, DE, 5.0

Interceptions: Brandon Howard, CB, 1; Jordan Pendleton, S, 1; Matt Putnam, DE, 1; Andrew Rich, S, 1


Other Key Returnees: LB Coleby Clawson, DE Brett Denney, LB Dhawn Doman, CB Scott Johnson, K Mitch Payne, OT Matt Reynolds, DT Russell Tialavea

Key Losses: LB Matt Ah You, G Travis Bright, WR Austin Collie, G Ray Feinga, S Kellen Fowler, LB David Nixon, OT David Oswald, WR Michael Reed, C Dallas Reynolds, P C.J. Santiago, S David Tafuna, RB Fui Vakapuna


Heading into the 2008 campaign, it was the defense that was a big question mark. They performed quite well, but with eight starters returning, the defense may suddenly be the team’s strength. Many of the offensive skill players are also back, but the offensive line needs a lot of retooling. That may keep the Cougars one step behind Utah…yet again.



The Cougars defense was nothing special in 2008. They ranked eighth in the conference in pass defense and sixth in total defense. However, all eight starters returning are seniors and there are no excuses for those numbers to be much better in 2009. Jan Jorgensen, who tallied 5.0 sacks and 8.5 tackles-for-loss, is a superb player, but he needs help from the rest of the line. BYU only averaged 1.69 sacks per game last year and it was way too easy for the opposition to double team Jorgensen. Now players like Brett Denney and Russell Tialavea have to step up and consistently get into the backfield. With Matt Bauman and Dhawn Doman returning to form a talented group in the middle of the field, the Cougars rush defense should be in good shape. It was the pass defense that was the biggest area of concern a year ago. With just about everybody who played quality minutes in the secondary returning, the unit should be much better.



BYU ranked sixth in the nation in passing offense and 16th in total offense. But some of the key components that made the offense so successful are now gone. Wide receiver Austin Collie caught an incredible 106 passes for 1,538 yards and 15 touchdowns and finding another receiver who can do that will be nearly impossible. Tight end Dennis Pitta is a great pass catcher and eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark in 2008, but the Cougars need to find a new deep threat. Perhaps the bigger problem is on the offensive line where Matt Reynolds is the only returning starter. The ground game and the passing attack will be far less effective if the line cannot come together quickly and turn into a cohesive unit.


The Bottom Line:

However, Max Hall is still a great quarterback and Harvey Unga is still a superb running back no matter how good, or bad, the line is this season. Hall threw for nearly 4,000 yards during his junior campaign and his senior season could be even better if Collie can be replaced. Unga is the workhorse on the ground and carried the ball 240 times for 1,132 yards and 11 touchdowns. He even caught 42 passes, four which resulted in touchdowns. With those two leading the way, the offense will still be dynamic and the Cougars will be in the mix for a Mountain West Conference title.


2008 Team Stats:

Rushing Offense: 134.38 (70th in nation, 7th in conference)

Passing Offense: 310.38 (6, 1)

Total Offense: 444.77 (16, 1)

Scoring Offense: 34.23 (20, 2)

Rushing Defense: 140.31 (60, 5)

Pass Defense: 215.62 (74, 8)

Total Defense: 355.92 (59, 6)

Scoring Defense: 21.92 (39, 3)

Turnover Margin: .15 (49, 5)

Sacks: 1.69 (80, 5)

Sacks Allowed: 1.54 (36, 6)