#46 BYU Football 2016 Preview

BYU Cougars
Overall Rank: #46
#2 Independent
After the surprising departure of former head coach Bronco Mendenhall to Charlottesville, Virginia to take the University of Virginia job, athletic director Tom Holmoe was in an interesting predicament. Holmoe just missed on Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo, as he turned the job down. But, you could argue that it was a blessing in disguise as Oregon State defensive coordinator Kalani Sitake got the job and, as a former BYU player, should hit the ground running in 2016 and navigate what is an insanely difficult schedule.
2015 Record: 9-4
2015 Bowl: Las Vegas Bowl vs. Utah (L 35-28)
Coach: Kalani Sitake (0-0 at BYU, 0-0 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Ty Detmer
Defensive Coordinator: Ilaisa Tuiaki
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Algernon Brown, FB, 709 yards
Passing: Tanner Mangum, QB, 3,377 yards
Receiving: Nick Kurtz, WR, 578 yards
Tackles: Harvey Langi, LB, 68
Sacks: Harvey Langi, LB, 4.5
Interceptions: Kai Nacua, S, 6
Other Key Returnees: QB Taysom Hill, RB Jamaal Williams, WR Mitch Juergens. OL Tejan Koroma, LB Fred Warner, DE Sae Tautu, P Jonny Linehan
Key Losses: RB Adam Hine, WR Mitch Mathews, WR Devon Blackmon, WR Terenn Houk, OL Ryker Mathews, S Michael Wadsworth, DL Bronson Kaufusi
The quarterback position should be a strength for BYU as Tanner Magnum did a nice job as a freshman throwing for 3,377 yards. Taysom Hill is back as well. When healthy, Hill has been a dynamic dual-threat quarterback that gives the Cougars that ability to wreak havoc on opposing defenses. However, Hill has struggled to stay healthy so if your Coach Sitake and offensive coordinator Ty Detmer, do you play it safe and go with Magnum or risk it and start Hill? Secondary play is going to be a vital strength as three starters are back led by safety Kai Nacua. Harvey Langi and Fred Warner will lead a strong linebacking corps that will need to play well from the opening snap in Glendale against Arizona if BYU is going to be bowl eligible in 2016.
Wide receiver is a huge concern as the Cougars have lost a ton of production from a year ago. The running game last year struggled mightily and the return of Jamaal Williams will need to infuse some production right away as teams are going to load the box and dare BYU to beat them through the air. Controlling the line of scrimmage defensively against the run is another big point of concern for the Cougars heading into the 2016 season. There were too many instances last year, such as the Michigan game, where teams were able to pound the ball down BYU’s throat and impose their will as games went on. So it will be very important for the Cougars to find a way to run the offensive just enough to save some physical wear and tear on the defense as the depth and overall mental toughness on both sides of the line of scrimmage are going to be tested all year long.
The Bottom Line:
There is no question that the BYU schedule is one of, if not the toughest in the country. The first eight weeks alone have six games against teams from power five conferences, including contests against Arizona, Utah, West Virginia, UCLA, Michigan State and Mississippi State. This, combined with games against group of five powers such as Boise State and Toledo, set up an uphill climb just to even get to six wins and make it to Poinsettia Bowl. Overall, in spite of the schedule, look for the Cougars to find a way to grind out a 6-6, or 7-5 type of regular season, which won’t make the fans in Provo happy at all. But the reality is that the schedule is too ridiculous and BYU has too many unanswered questions right now to expect more than seven wins in 2016.
Projected Bowl: Poinsettia Bowl
2015 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 128.3 (111th in nation, 3rd in conference)
Passing Offense: 296.5 (21, 1)
Total Offense: 424.8 (49, 2)
Scoring Offense: 33.7 (40, 2)
Rushing Defense: 143.8 (34, 1)
Pass Defense: 201.8 (31, 2)
Total Defense: 345.7 (23, 1)
Scoring Defense: 22.8 (34, 1)
Turnover Margin: 0.15 (51, 1)
Sacks: 3.08 (6, 1)
Sacks Allowed: 2.62 (100, 3)


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