#42 BYU Football 2017 Preview


BYU Cougars


Overall Rank: #42

#2 FBS Independent

BYU lost four games by a grand total of eight points in Coach Kalani Sitake’s debut season as the head coach. With victories over Arizona, Michigan State and Mississippi State, the Cougars managed to navigate through a relatively tough schedule with plenty of success. And it culminated with a 24-21 victory over Wyoming in the Poinsettia Bowl.
2016 Record: 9-4
2016 Bowl: Poinsettia Bowl vs. Wyoming (W 24-21)
Coach: Kalani Sitake (9-4 at BYU, 9-4 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Ty Detmer
Defensive Coordinator: Ilaisa Tuiaki
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Squally Canada, RB, 315 yards
Passing: Tanner Mangum, QB, 241 yards
Receiving: Jonah Trinnaman, WR, 321 yards
Tackles: Fred Warner, LB, 86
Sacks: Corbin Kaufusi, DL, 2.5
Interceptions: Francis Bernard, LB, 3, Dayan Ghanwoloku, CB, 3; Fred Warner, LB, 3
Other Key Returnees: OL Tejan Koroma, LB Butch Pau’u, S Mitch Hannemann, CB Troy Warner
Key Losses: QB Taysom Hill, RB Jamaal Williams, WR Nick Kurtz, DE Sae Tautu, S Kai Nacua
Normally losing your starting quarterback, 1,000 yard rusher and top three receivers would be extremely difficult for any team to deal with. However that is not entirely the case with BYU since Tanner Mangum is ready to step back into a starting spot. Two years ago as a freshman Mangum replaced an injured Taysom Hill and threw for 3,377 yards and 23 touchdowns. Last season he started the bowl game when Hill was injured again. Mangum has a big arm and will pick up right where he left off. Receiver Jonah Trinnaman caught 28 passes for 321 yards last season and will be asked to play a much bigger role this year. Moroni Laulu-Pututau, who caught 27 passes for 277 yards in 2016, is making the move to tight end and expect more out of that position in 2017. The biggest concern is at running back where Jamaal Williams needs to be replaced after rushing for 1,375 yards and a dozen touchdowns during his senior season. Squally Canada and the speedy KJ Hall are decent options, but it will likely take a committee to come anywhere close to replacing Williams’ production.
BYU returns all three starting linebackers. Fred Warner, Butch Pau’u and Francis Bernard all tallied between 80 and 86 tackles and they combined to intercept seven passes. Those three will provide steady leadership, while the units around them do a little bit of rebuilding. The secondary does return three starters, but the absence of Kai Nacua and his six interceptions will be noticeable. The secondary was relatively consistent last season and should improve with the continued development of sophomores Troy Warner and Dayan Ghanwoloku and senior Micah Hannemann. It is on the line where there are bigger concerns. All four starters are gone from a team that wants to get consistent pressure on the quarterback. Corbin Kaufusi and Sione Takitaki must lead the way, but the Cougars need at least seven or eight linemen they can comfortably put on the field. BYU needs to be able to keep their line fresh or the pass rush and the run defense will suffer in the long run.
The Bottom Line:
The tough games on the BYU slate this season are a little bit tougher than they were in 2016. A three game stretch in early September will make or break this season for BYU. A game against LSU in Houston on September 2nd kicks off the tough stretch of games. It is followed by home dates with Utah and Wisconsin. A few weeks later, the Cougars host Boise State and travel to Mississippi State as well. They can lose all five of those games and still go 7-5 and make a bowl. But with a few wins in there, BYU will start to garner some national attention, pick up momentum and be a top 25 team by the end of the year.
Projected Bowl: Armed Forces Bowl
2016 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 201.2 (41st in nation, 2nd of Independents)
Passing Offense: 197.9 (96, 3)
Total Offense: 399.1 (71, 3)
Scoring Offense: 29.5 (62, 3)
Rushing Defense: 112.8 (9, 1)
Pass Defense: 252.2 (96, 3)
Total Defense: 365.0 (34, 2)
Scoring Defense: 19.5 (14, 1)
Turnover Margin: 0.92 (7, 1)
Sacks: 2.23 (53, 1)
Sacks Allowed: 2.00 (57, 2)
Madness 2017 Recruit Rankings:
#219 Chaz Ah You