Monday, June 13, 2011

BYU Cougars 2010 Review

BYU Cougars
2010 Record: 7-6 (5-3), tied 3rd Mountain West
2010 Bowl Game: New Mexico Bowl, Defeated UTEP 52-24

     BYU was in trouble before the season began last fall. They had huge holes to fill, and so many unknowns, that it was impossible to tell if BYU would win or lose most weeks, and they lost plenty early on in their final season in the Mountain West before becoming an Independent in football. But the course soon changed, and the Cougars found their footing, and by the time the season ended in New Mexico, they were on a track back to success.
      Jake Heaps had some bumps in the road early on last season. He was not really the QB of choice as many expected him to be, and he shared time in a two QB systm with Riley Nelson, a junior. Heaps' big break came at the expense of a season ending injury to Nelson, and Heaps had the reins heaped upon him. He responded nicely, passing for 2316 yards and 15 TDs. He even kept his picks to a minimal level, as he only tossed 9 on the season. In the bowl win over UTEP, he took to the job with a gusto, and passed for 264 yards and 4 TDs in a 52-24 win. He also tossed 4 TD passes against hapless Colorado State earlier in the season. Heaps finished the season 4-1 as a starter, and nevr passed for less than 228 yards in any of those games, and never passed for more picks than scores.
     The Cougars found a run game in 3 different backs last fall, and they were led by the work of the fearless JJ DiLuigi, who finished with 917 yards and 8 scores. DiLuigi averaged 5.15 yards per carry, and never feared taking a hit. Bryan Kariya was also a smash last fall as a junior, as he rushed for 537 yards and 6 scores. Joshua Quezeda ran for 505 yards and added 5 more TDs on the ground to give BYU a 3-headed backfield monster, and the beast returns intact for 2011.
     BYU boasted 5 receivers that caught at least 20 passes last fall, which is strong considering that they QB issues early on. Cody Hoffman was the leader, as he posted a line of 42-527-7 on the year. Hoffman caught 8 passes for 137 yards and 3 scores in the bowl win over UTEP. DiLuigi was also a huge threat as a receiver out of the backfield, as he posted a line of 45-443-1. They were followed by McKay Jacobson (37-410-1), Luke Ashworth (32-368-7), and Kariya out of the backfield (21-122-0).
     The Cougars were hit and miss on the defensive side of the ball, having only allowed 339 yards per game. The Cougars allowed only 187.8 yards per game through the air, but did struggle somewhat to contain the run, as they allowed 151.2 yards rushing per game.
     The Cougars did not have solid tackling last season, and that plagued them, especially early. Andrew Rich led the team with 111 tackles on the season, and Shane Hunter followed him with 84, but they were the only two defenders that averaged 5 tackles per game or more. Brian Logan and Brandon Ogletree were the only other BYU defenders to collect at least 50 tackles on the season (both had 51).
     Vic So'oto, a senior last season, was the only Cougar to hit double figures in TFLs, as he collected 10.5. Rich followed with 8.5, and then it was Kyle Van Noy with 7.5. So'oto also led the team with 5 sacks, and the Cougars struggled to put pressure on opposing QBs up front.
     Luckily, BYU had a solid secondary, and 4 different players finished with 5 or more defended passes. Rich led the group with 8, and was followed by Matt Putnam (7), Brian Logan (6), and Shane Hunter (5). Rich, the team's defensive MVP, also led BYU with 5 picks on the season. BYU did manage to pick off 16 passes as a team.
     Mitch Payne was solid at PK for the Cougars, as he hit on 17 of his 21 FG attempts last fall, which was good for 81%. He did miss two of his PATs, while hitting 37 of 39. BYU has to replace him next fall. Riley Stephenson was solid at punter as a sophomore, so more may be expected of him next fall. HE averaged 41.96 yards per punt while averaging 4 punts per game. Cody Hoffman was very good on kick returns, averaging over 27 yards per return, but he only had 14 returns. O'Neill Chambers returned 15 kicks, and averaged 21 yards per return. JD Falslev was solid on punt returns, averaging 9.07 yards per return.
Final Notes
     BYU's final season in the Mountain West could have gone better, but it could have been much worse. a 2-5 start was embarrasing enough, and was even worse when a loss to Utah State was peppered in to the mix. The 5-1 finish was extremely pleasant, and so the Cougars enter independence on a hot streak, and are ready to take on all comers. Luckily, the schedule this season is much more manageable, and the weapons returning are primed to deal with it.

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