13 Reasons BYU can Bust the BCS in 2013
By Nate Lawyer | TornBySports.com
It’s almost spring in Provo, and that can only mean two things; at times beautiful weather, and BYU football hype. After an off-season of coaching changes, Bronco Mendenhall and BYU are excited for this coming year, year three of Independence. Why then, will this season be any different from the past couple years of ‘National Championship or Bust’?
1.Strength of Schedule
BYU enters the 2013 season facing perhaps its toughest schedule of all time. With teams like: Texas, Utah, Boise State, Notre Dame, Wisconsin, and Georgia Tech, BYU is sure to get plenty of national recognition, should they play well. A 12-0 BYU would have a legitimate case for a National Championship berth. Furthermore, in the days when a Northern Illinois team can finish 12-1 and play in the Orange Bowl, while only beating 4 bowl opponents, surely BYU would qualify for a BCS bowl appearance with an 11-1 record.
BYU will play teams from Virginia, Texas, Utah, Tennessee, Georgia, Idaho, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Nevada in 2013. This kind of diversified exposure, coupled with future games against teams from; Connecticut, Mississippi, Florida, Nebraska, Michigan, and Ohio will surely get BYU’s name out to hundreds of thousands of potential fans, and potential recruits.
BYU’s defense has been dominant of late, and the 2012 team was highly ranked in almost every category, including: 5th in PPG allowed, 3rd in YPG allowed, 12th in Passing Yards allowed, 1st in Rushing Yards allowed, 12th in Pass TD’s allowed, 2nd in Rushing YPC, 2nd in Rushing TD’s allowed, and 1st in Rushing 1st Downs allowed.
Bronco Mendenhall’s defense looks reloaded, and while losing Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah to the first round of the NFL draft will surely be felt, a sophomore Bronson Kafusi looks more than capable of filling the void. The main question marks which remain on defense are: Who will step up and become the tackling machine, now that Brandon Ogletree has graduated?, and with Trenton Trammell’s ACL tear, who will fill the Boundary Corner slot? Should those holes be filled, BYU has another elite defense waiting to shut opposing offenses down.
3. J. Williams & Co.
When Michael Alisa broke his arm during the Hawaii game last season, Jamaal Williams stepped in and had over 150 yards and 2 touchdowns. Jamaal would finish his freshman season with the most rushing touchdowns in one season (12) since Harvey Unga in 2006, a performance he can only wish to improve upon With Alisa, Paul Lasike, Iona Pritchard, and Adam Hine back from last season, and returning missionary AJ Moore, BYU looks to have a stable of running backs to pound opposing defenses with. Add in the plans for increased tempo and the running capability of projected starting QB, Taysom Hill, and BYU’s ground attack should be fast, and unrelenting.
One of the surprises thus far in spring camp has been running back Adam Hine. Coming off his first season of play, in which he was sidelined with injuries and did not carry the ball once, Hine has exploded onto the scene as the #2 option, behind Williams. These two all-purpose backs could add dimensions to BYU’s offense that haven’t been seen since the Staley/McDonald-Ashford days.
4. Increased Tempo
For the 2013 season, Robert Anae has planned to introduce a hurry up style offense, employing Oregon-esque signs and tempo. Should the planned offense work, BYU will have a high-powered offense to complement its elite defense. With such a deep stable of running backs and playmakers such as; Cody Hoffman, Ross Apo, and JD Falslev to throw the ball to, Taysom Hill should be able to move the ball effectively.
The defense will most likely be on the field for longer, as the offense will be – hopefully – scoring at will on opposing defenses. To counter the decreased rest intervals, BYU must establish depth through its two-deep and get conditioned. Running 90+ plays a game will have a tiring effect on BYU’s defense, but as the strength of BYU, they should be able to hold their own.
5. BYU Branding
BYU has a national brand, especially in the wake of Jimmermania. BYUtv is a tremendous resource for national exposure, and BYU’s ESPN deal assures BYU national television slots for several of their most key games. With all this national exposure, BYU is sure to turn heads, assuming it can win said games. BYU has had so many what if moments in the past few years, that its time BYU put together a complete season.
6. Location, Location, Location
LaVell Edwards Stadium is one of the largest college football stadiums in the west, and consistently draws 60,000+ fans. BYU has a great tradition of winning at home – their only loss last year against then #10 ranked Oregon State. Home games this year include Texas, Utah, Georgia Tech, and Boise State, and BYU will need all of its home field advantage to take down these tough teams.
After the dominant defensive showcase Kyle Van Noy put on in the Poinsettia Bowl (forced fumble, fumble recovery for touchdown, interception returned for touchdown, blocked punt, 8 tackles, 1.5 sacks), many believed he would turn pro after his then-junior year. However, he and Cody Hoffman cited “Unfinished Business”, and returned for another go-round. After his All-Bowl team performance, the expectations for Van Noy are so great that he is even garnering pre-season Heisman buzz, in the like of Manti Te’o.
As part of such an elite unit, Van Noy will play a very tough schedule. But, if KVN can continue his dominance of offensive lines, and his abuse of opposing quarterbacks, (T-3rd in sacks last season, with 13), there is no reason for him to not be in contention for a Heisman invitation, as Tyrann Mathieu and Manti Te’o have recently.
8. More Consistent Quarterback Play
Over the past three years, BYU has struggled through; various quarterback controversies, and generally poor play from the quarterbacks. In 2010, the hotshot freshman Jake Heaps took over, later to be benched in 2011 in favor of ‘gritty’ Riley Nelson. Heaps would transfer to Kansas, and Riley would be given the reins for 2012 and underperform. Taysom Hill; a freshman transfer would relieve the injured, and struggling Nelson, before himself suffering a season ending knee injury. Late last season, veteran James Lark would see his first starts as well. Needless to say, the past three years have been a proverbial train-wreck of Quarterbacking. Hopes are high; however, as Taysom Hill is returning from his injury ahead of schedule and is performing well.
9. Anae’s Return
Robert Anae, after a highly disappointing season in 2010 would resign and be replaced by Brandon Doman. Two years later, and the switch has been reversed, as Anae is back in Provo. Having managed the nation’s most prolific running back at the University of Arizona, in Ka’Deem Carey, Anae hopes to have continued influence over the Cougars While at BYU, Anae plans to implement a Zone-Read element to his the offense, and with weapons like Jamaal Williams, Adam Hine, and Taysom Hill, expectations for this run-and-gun style offense are astronomical. Cougar fans hope that Anae can repeat his successes he had previously at BYU, in which BYU had a high-powered offense.
10. Position Competition
Bronco Mendenhall, at the start of spring camp had all positions on open competition. Competition breeds success, and Bronco is hoping the competing for playing time will help bring the best out in his players.
Quarterbacks for instance, had JC Transfer Christian Stewart – I’m betting he’s team Jacob – climb the positional ladder to the #2 spot. Running Backs had Adam Hine; a once highly touted newcomer, who was sidelined with injuries, turn heads and is splitting reps with returning super-frosh Jamaal Williams. Other positions have become interesting as well, as injuries have sidelined CB Trent Trammell.
11. Receiving Corps
Taysom Hill, or whomever ends up taking the snaps will have weapons like; Cody Hoffman, Ross Apo, JD Falslev, Devin Mahina, Kaneakua Friel, Mitch and Marcus Matthews, and Jamaal Williams, Adam Hine, Paul Lasike out of the backfield to gun the ball all over the field to. With arguably the best receivers in BYU history, BYU needs a quarterback who is capable of getting them the ball, which has been an issue of late. With such size (Hoffman and Apo are 6’4 and 6’3, respectively) and speed (Hoffman, Apo, and Falslev all run ~4.50 40’s) the receiving corps will be a strength of the offense, so long as the ball is on time and on target.
12. Offensive Line Revamping
In Anae’s system, the offensive line lines up with extra wide splits. This wide split tendency focuses on man-up blocking schemes and specializes in creating an extra-large pocket. The wide splits allow for wider passing lanes, with fewer batted balls, greater QB vision, and longer pocket life, as the defensive linemen have further to go to reach the quarterback. In addition, the wider splits open running lanes, allowing for more room to run downhill between the tackles.
Garett Tujague was recently hired to coach the offensive line, as a replacement for Mark Weber. Tujague brings in a fresh perspective and will help to liven up an O-Line which ranked 82nd in sacks allowed per game and 64th in Rushing YPG.
Under the new offensive scheme, the Zone Read option will have an integral part of BYU’s rushing attack. The flexibility the Zone Read gives BYU is immense. Every play could be a threat for one of BYU’s deep stable of backs to break the field wide open. With the speed of Jamaal Williams, Adam Hine, and Taysom Hill running the show, defenses will need to be on their toes to handle the explosiveness of BYU’s offense. The Zone Read is an aspect of modern football not seen at BYU, and one which will hopefully become another arrow in their proverbial quiver. Look out for BYU to be a run heavy team, and the shovel pass we saw last year will be a huge aspect of the running attack.
BYU enters its 2013 season with expectations of greatness, and after 4 losses by less than 7 points last season, the ‘what if’ still lingers. The potential for greatness is there, and all that remains is the execution and consistency that Bronco Mendenhall always preaches.
Should BYU play their best football year round, the sky’s the limit.