Saturday, July 22, 2017

Bilo's 2017 College Football Previews: Brigham Young Cougars

BYU Cougars
Kalani Sitake is heading into year two of his term as BYU head coach, and despite some things going up and down at the QB position, the Coougars could be called a success last season after winning nine games. Sitake did not walk into a typical empty cupboard as a new head coach sometimes does, and there is some serious talent coming back this season, although there are losses as well. Still, it will be interesting to see how the Cougars come back in year two under Sitake, and try to emulate and surpass the success of last season.

What To Be Excited About: Offense
Tanner Mangum finally gets to gt out from the shadow of Taysom Hill, and quite frankly, that should have happened last season when it was painfully obvious that Hill was a shadow of his former self. Mangum was the hero of two seasons ago at QB, and now, this is fully his show. Mangum completed 22/33 passes last fall, and showed that he really is the guy to run this offense. In 2015, he passed for 3377 yards and 23 TDs, so we all know what he can do.

Jamaal Williams is gone as the all-time leading rusher for BYU, and Squally Canada is slated to start, but look out for RS freshman Ula Tolutau, who originally signed with Wisconsin before going on his two year Morman mission. He is a big, bruising back that could carry the load for this run game.

Four starters return on the line for the Cougars in LT Thomas Shoaf, LG Keyan Norman, CTejan Koroma, and RG Tuni Kanuch. Junior Austin Hoyt is projected to start at RT as we head into fall camp, with RS freshman Kieffer Longson listed as his backup.

Rhett Almond was solid at PK last season, as he hit 17/21 FG attempts on the season, for an 81% success rate. Look for more production from him this fall.

What To Be Concerned About: Offense
There is some concern in the receiver corps after BYU lost their top three receivers from 2016. Jonah Trinnaman, who caught 28 passes last season, is now the group leader. Talon Shumway projects as the number two, but caught just three passes in seven games last fall. Aleva Hifo also figures into the mix after an 11 catch season. Akile Davis and Micah Simon, both sophomores, could figure in as well. TE Moroni Laulu-Pututau looms large at TE, as much is expected of him, but he has to fend off Tanner Balderee for the job.

Johnny Linehan returns at Punter after averaging 42.46 yards per punt last season.

What To Be Excited About: Defense
The LB spot should be rock solid this fall with the return of Fred Warner, Butch Pau'u, and Francis Bernard. Warner led the team with 86 tackles, while Pau'u was right behind him with 83. Bernard was third on the team with 79 total tackles. The group also combined for 23 total TFLs last fall, with Warner providing 10.5 of them.

The secondary looks to be in good shape with the return of three starters from the bowl game win over Wyoming. Troy Warner and Dayan Ghanwoloku both return at CB, while MicahHannemann will be back at Safety. Warner finished with seven PBUs, while Hannemann finished with five. Ghanwoloku finished with three INTs as well. Senior Matt Hadley is projected to win the open Safety job, but Zayne Anderson and Tanner Jacobson are both in the mix as well.

What To Be Concerned About: Defense
The line is a serious question mark entering fall camp, as the Cougars are looking at all new starters up front this fall. Corbin Kaufusi and Trajan Pili project as the starters at DE, while Handsome Tanielu also could figure in, possibly as a starter or as a rotation end. The Cougars are looking at Kesni Tausinga at DT, while Tevita Mo'unga could start at NG. Depth may be thin.

2017 Schedule
8/26 Portland State, 9/2 LSU at Houston, 9/9 Utah, 9/16 Wisconsin, 9/29 at Utah State, 10/6 Boise State, 10/14 at Mississippi State, 10/21 at East Carolina, 10/28 San Jose State, 11/4 at Fresno State, 11/10 at UNLV, 11/18 U Mass, 11/25 at Hawaii

Final Overview
The Cougars certainly are a talented bunch as we enter the 2017 season. The front end of the schedule is loaded, but most of those early games are completely winnable for BYU, and when you look at the watered down back end of the schedule, there is no reason to expect that with this 13 game schedule, the Cougars would not be able to make a run at nine or ten wins this fall. Sitake has another talent rich environment to work in, and this could be a very nice ride for the Cougars. Look for big things.

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