#27 BYU Football 2014 Preview

Brigham Young Cougars

Overall Rank: #27
#2 Independent

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BYU has higher expectations than an 8-5 season. Outside of a 40-21 win over Texas, there really was not a notable win for the Cougars in 2013. Mediocrity could come to an end thanks to quarterback Taysom Hill. As a sophomore Hill threw for 2,938 yards and 19 touchdowns and rushed for 1,344 yards and ten more scores. BYU wants to run and they ran extremely well last season, but look for more balance this time around now that Hill has more experience and is ready to become a steady passer.

2013 Record: 8-5
2013 Bowl: Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl vs. Washington (L 16-31)
Coach: Bronco Mendenhall (82-34 at BYU, 82-34 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Robert Anae
Defensive Coordinator: Nick Howell

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Taysom Hill, QB, 1,344 yards
Passing: Taysom Hill, QB, 2,938 yards
Receiving: Mitch Mathews, WR, 397 yards
Tackles: Craig Bills, S, 79
Sacks: Bronson Kaufusi, LB, 4.0
Interceptions: Craig Bills, S, 2; Alani Fua, LB, 2

Other Key Returnees: RB Jamaal Williams, RB Adam Hine, WR Ross Apo, OL Solomone Kafu, OL Michael Yeck, CB Robertson Daniel, S Skye PoVey, DE Remington Peck

Key Losses: WR Cody Hoffman, WR Skyler Ridley, TE Kaneakua Friel, LB Kyle Van Noy, LB Uani ‘Unga, DB Daniel Sorensen, DL Earthyn Manumaleuna, K Justin Sorensen

Coach Bronco Mendenhall is known for his defense and this team allowed just 22.1 points per game last year. This season could be even better despite some big losses. The secondary is absolutely loaded with talent and experience. Strong safety Craig Bills is the team’s top returning tackler and cornerback Robertson Daniel is coming off of a solid year. The Cougars will also get back the services of Jordan Johnson, a starter in 2012 who missed last season with an injury. There are a few more questions at linebacker. Uani ‘Unga is gone and so is Kyle Van Noy, one of the best defensive players to ever suit up for BYU. Coach Mendenhall is moving former end Bronson Kaufusi to one of the outside linebacker spots in his 3-4 scheme, while Alani Fua returns to the opposite side. Zac Stout and Manoa Pikula have enough experience to step into the middle linebacker spots without a problem. The line has plenty of experience, led by junior Remington Peck. On the other side of the ball, it was not just Hill who was running all over the opposition. Running back Jamaal Williams added 1,233 yards and seven scores and rushed for 5.7 yards per carry.  

With Hill and Williams running the ball, the passing game should see some improvement. However, that will not be the case if the offensive line and the receivers are not ready to step up. The line struggled at times last season, although injuries were part of the reason for that. If the unit can stay healthy and they learned lessons from 2013, they should at least be a little better. The receivers lost Cody Hoffman, the all-time leading receiver at BYU. Last year he caught 57 passes for 894 yards. The receiving corps does bring in a lot of interesting new talent, like 6-6 junior college transfer Nick Kurtz and UTEP transfer Jordan Leslie.

The Bottom Line:
BYU has tough road games against Texas, UCF and Boise State and they cannot afford to lose those three games and still consider their season a success. They also have tricky home games against Houston and Utah State. BYU beat both of those teams on the road in 2013, but both have offenses that are capable of outscoring the Cougars. If the offense clicks and the passing game improves, this is a squad that can win ten games heading into the bowl.

Projected Bowl: Miami Beach Bowl

2013 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 267.3 (10thd in nation, 3rd in conference)
Passing Offense: 226.3 (71, 4)
Total Offense: 493.6 (14, 1)
Scoring Offense: 30.2 (55, 2)
Rushing Defense: 159.9 (56, 1)
Pass Defense: 218.9 (46, 4)
Total Defense: 378.8 (47, 2)
Scoring Defense: 22.1 (22, 1)
Turnover Margin: 0.15 (48, 2)
Sacks: 1.85 (77, 2)
Sacks Allowed: 2.92 (107, 5)


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