#44 BYU Football 2021 Preview

BYU Cougars
Overall Rank: #44
#4 FBS Independent
 BYU Logo
BYU is coming off a great 2020 campaign. They finished 11-1, with their lone loss coming on the road at Coastal Carolina in a game that was scheduled two days beforehand. Crushing Boise State 51-17 on the blue turf and UCF in the Boca Raton Bowl by a score of 49-23 highlighted the year. Heading into 2021 Coach Kalani Sitake’s team has some rebuilding to do, or perhaps reloading, so another 11-1 season is not expected, but the Cougars will still be a tough team to beat.
2020 Record: 11-1
2020 Bowl: Boca Taton Bowl vs. UCF (W 49-23)
Coach: Kalani Sitake (38-26 at BYU, 38-26 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Aaron Roderick
Defensive Coordinator: Ilaisa Tuiaki
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Tyler Allgeier, RB, 1,158 yards
Passing: Baylor Romney, QB, 261 yards
Receiving: Gunner Romney, WR, 767 yards
Tackles: Keenan Pili, LB, 72
Sacks: George Udo, DB, 3.0
Interceptions: 5 tied with 1
Other Key Returnees: WR Neil Pau’u, TE Isaac Rex, LB Payton Wilgar, LB Max Tooley, P Ryan Rehkow, K Jake Oldroyd
Key Losses: QB Zach Wilson, WR Dax Milne, DB Troy Warner, LB Isaiah Kaufusi, DL Bracken El-Bakri, DL Zac Dawe, DL Khyiris Tonga
BYU boasted the third best scoring offense in the nation last year, averaging 43.5 points per game. Without quarterback Zach Wilson and wide receiver Dax Milne, those numbers will certainly come back down to Earth. Veteran quarterbacks Baylor Romney and Jaren Hall are the top options to replace Wilson. Neither will be Wilson, but both are more than capable of leading the team. Milne is gone, but the Cougars have a ton of talented receiving options. Gunner Romney is the big play threat and Neil Pau’u and tight end Isaac Rex are big, experienced targets. The offensive line has some big holes to fill, but they should be good enough for running back Tyler Allgeier to have another 1,000-yard rushing season.
BYU’s defense will revolve around the linebacking trio of Keenan Pili, Payton Wilgar and Max Tooley. Those three alone have the talent to hold the defense together despite the unproven pass rush. The pass rush was BYU’s main issue defensively last year and now they have to replace three starters on the front line. The secondary is also in good shape after allowing fewer than 200 yards per game through the air last season. George Udo is a proven playmaker and getting Chaz Ah You back after missing most of last season will be a big boost.
The Bottom Line:
The schedule is much, much more difficult than the makeshift schedule from 2020. The Cougars open up with three home dates against Pac-12 teams and face two more Pac-12 teams on the road later in the year. This is a BYU team that should be involved in a ton of close games in 2021. If things fall their way, the Cougars could win nine or ten games and cement their spot as a team the rest of the nation will have to be aware of heading into the future.
Projected Bowl: Independence Bowl
2020 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 190.1 (44th in nation, 3rd in conference)
Passing Offense: 332.1 (8, 1)
Total Offense: 522.2 (6, 1)
Scoring Offense: 43.5 (3, 1)
Rushing Defense: 119.9 (19, 2)
Pass Defense: 197.5 (22, 3)
Total Defense: 317.4 (10, 2)
Scoring Defense: 15.3 (4, 2)
Turnover Margin: 0.75 (19, 1)
Sacks: 2.17 (65, 3)
Sacks Allowed: 1.00 (8, 2)