2013-14 Football Previews – (Independant) – Cougars
The BYU Cougars are poised to make a pretty penny as an Independent, but they’ll need to be close to perfect if they hope to make a BCS bowl game.
2013 Preview: BYU Cougars
Coach: Bronco Mendenhall
2012 Record: 8-5
BYU gambling odds from BetOnline to win BCS: +55000
BYU Team Page – Player Stats – Roster – 2013 Schedule – >
Then again, winning the Mountain West wouldn’t have been the greatest of boons either. However, they’ll now need at least double-digit wins to get into a big-time bowl game.
They’ll have their work cut out for them with some tough games on their schedule, but if the defense plays like it did a year ago and the offense takes a step forward like its expected do, this could be a successful year for the Cougars.
The Cougars will go as far as their defense takes them this season. A unit that finished third in the nation in both total defense and scoring defense remains largely intact. The team’s run defense was phenomenal a year ago, and should be again this season.
Outside linebackers Kyle Van Noy and Spencer Hadley return to stir things up from the outside linebacker spots. They were very disruptive off the edge last year and look for a repeat performance this season. Van Noy in particular is a player the team is lucky to get back.
He was expected to enter the NFL Draft, particularly after a dominant performance in the team’s bowl game against San Diego State, but he instead decided to return for his senior season.
In the secondary, three starters return to a pass defense that ranked 10th in the nation a year ago. The only real question marks are up front. Ezekiel Ansah and Romney Fuga have moved on to the NFL, putting pressure on sophomores Bronson Kaufusi and Remington Peck to generate pressure from the defensive end position, but they’ll get some help from big Eathyn Manumaleuna who moves to the nose tackle spot.[soliloquy id=”82219″]
On offense, the team will lean heavily on quarterback Taysom Hill. Hill’s ability to connect with wide receiver Cody Hoffman will dictate how efficient the offense can be. Hill took some big shots last season which caused him to miss large chunks of the season, so keeping him upright will be key for the team this season. Better offensive line play will also mean a better showing from the team’s running game, so getting that group in order will be a top priority.
They’d be wise to spend a lot of time running behind their two big offensive lineman on the left side, tackle Ryker Mathews and guard Solomone Kafu.
A major area of concern is special teams, particularly the field goal kicking unit. Hitting on just 10-of-18 field goals again would be simply unacceptable. The longest of those field goals came from just 35 yards out, and there were an additional six missed extra points, so there’s a lot of work to be done there.
2013-14 BYU Football Prediction: 10-2
The team’s schedule isn’t short on cupcake matchups, but there are four big games on there that will decide whether this team plays in a big-time bowl, or in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl: Texas, Boise State, at Wisconsin, and at Notre Dame.
The early-season matchup with Texas is certainly important, and their opener at Virginia shouldn’t be taken lightly, but the fate of the team’s season will be decided in a rough closing schedule that will see them play three of their final four games on the road.
All things told, it’s not unreasonable to expect BYU to win 10 or 11 games and make a BCS bowl game, but they’ll need a more consistent performance from their offense and special teams to do that.
2013 Cougars Schedule
8/31 at Virginia
9/27 Middle Tennessee State
10/4 at Utah State
10/12 Georgia Tech
10/19 at Houston
10/26 Boise State
11/9 at Wisconsin
11/16 Idaho State
11/23 at Notre Dame
11/30 at Nevada