The good, the bad and the most likely: BYU Cougars

We are only three days from the beginning of college football which gives us just enough time to breakdown each of the local schools.  The way I like to break things down is by looking at the best case scenario, the worst case scenario and what is most likely to happen.  That way I can cover every possible angle of what might happen to your favorite college team this season.

Today’s first installment will be about the BYU Cougars.  The Cougars are coming off an 8-5 season and a win in the Poinsettia bowl over the San Diego State Aztecs.  Expectations are very high in Provo with a new quarterback and depth at all the skill positions.  BYU did suffer losses on the offensive line and on the defensive side of the ball with graduation.  The Cougars have a daunting schedule this year and that should make for a very interesting season.

The Good:

BYU is loaded with offensive talent this year.  In fact, some are saying that BYU has never had receivers or running backs that have been this good from top to bottom.  When you add to that, their new starting QB was a Jim Harbaugh signing out of high school, who has untapped potential.  Taysom Hill has a great arm and remarkable speed for a Quarterback.  When a play breaks down he can definitely beat you with his legs.  The Cougars have a group of three big and physical receivers that should be able to go up and get any ball thrown their way.  The tight end position is also loaded with potential play makers.  The running back spot is where BYU might be the deepest.  They have two backs on the Doak Walker watch list entering the season in Mike Alisa and Jamaal Williams.  Both should see tons of carries and plenty of opportunities for thousand yard seasons.  Adam Hine is another player to watch out of the back field.  Hine is a freak athlete who has loads of potential.  Hopefully he gets enough touches to show what he is capable of.

The defensive side of the ball also returns a lot of talent, including one of the most dominant players in BYU history in Kyle Van Noy.  KVN will be joined by Spencer Hadley, Bronson Kaufusi and Ethan Manumaleuna, as they try to replicate last year’s amazing amount of defensive success.

The best case scenario for the Cougars this season is very bright even though they do play one of the toughest schedules in BYU history.  Look for BYU to start out with a flourish at Virginia and continue to roll.  Taysom Hill will find his footing in a new offense from day one and lead BYU to the cusp of a BCS game.  BYU will go 11-1 with their only loss coming against Wisconsin late in the season.  Let’s face it, even in the best BYU years they always seem to get tripped up by someone along the way.

The Cougars new offense will be close to unstoppable with Hill throwing for more than 4,000 yards and 35 touchdowns.  The running game will keep opposing defenses honest and both Alisa and Williams will account for more than 1,000 yards of offense and at least 10 scores.  Hine will burst onto the sense and rack up over 500 yards as the Cougars will jump on teams early and create plenty of time for their backups to get plenty of game action.

The wide receivers will also shine in this new look attack with both Ross Apo and Cody Hoffman catching 80 balls for more than 1000 yards and double figures in touchdowns.

The defense will be as stingy as last year with the front seven getting pressure early and often.  The questions in the secondary won’t matter because no team will have time to throw deep.

Cougar fans will regain their faith in coach Bronco Mendenhall as BYU finishes the season in the top 10 and a shot at a major bowl game.

The Bad:

The Cougars are as thin in the secondary as any time in the last decade with the losses of Jordan Johnson and Jacob Hannemann.   Johnson tore his ACL and Hannemann decided to play baseball instead, after being drafted by the Cubs.  The Cougars also have to replace plenty of defensive play makers including Brandon Ogletree and Ziggy Ansah.

The offensive has a new philosophy and an entire new coaching staff.  They are trying to replace some outstanding line men while changing the tempo of the game.  They have a quarterback with only a few games of college experience and a proclivity to run the ball when pressure comes.

The worst case scenario for the Cougars this season is an early loss to Virginia and the wheels coming off.  The New offense doesn’t fit well with the personnel and the line doesn’t create any holes for the backs to run though.  They also don’t give hill enough time to go through his reads and he is constantly running for his life.

The defense looks even worse as the d line doesn’t get any pressure and the young and inexperienced secondary gets picked apart on a game to game basis.  The Cougars come away with a 2-10 record while looking for a bunch of new coach including the head man himself.

What’s most likely to happen:

The offensive line has some growing pains but is still able to do a good enough job for Hill and the boys to average more than 30 points a game.  Cody Hoffman breaks every Cougar receiving record on his way to an All-American season.  The Cougars come close to rushing for 2000 yards collectively and give the offense an effective one two punch.

The secondary has its share of struggles but the front seven gets enough pressure to once again be a top 20 defense.  Bronson Kaufusi shows why everyone has been raving about him for years and Kyle Van Noy is a first team All-American and leaves the Y. as its best ever defensive player.  The Cougars win 8 games in the regular season as well as their bowl game to end the year at 9-4.

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