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2017 Fierce 40 Previews: #29 BYU

by DJ Boyer on Jul. 18, 2017

#29 BYU Cougars

2016 Recap:
9-4 sounds like a good campaign but it was one that was almost great. The four losses for BYU came against Utah, Werst Virginia, Boise State and UCLA and by a total of 8 points. BYU prides itself on playing a tough schedule and as an independant entity they have a little more flexability to do so.


Coaching:
Kalani Sitake had a memorable first season at the helm taking over for Bronco Mendenhall. Ty Detmer and Ilaisa Tuiaki will lead offensive and defensive units that ranked 71st and 34th overall in the nation a season ago.


Offense

Quarterback Tanner Mangum took a backseat to Taysom Hill who was granted an extra year of eligibility for his productive yet injury-filled career at BYU. Mangum topped 3,300 yards and threw 23 touchdowns as a freshman but those numbers slipped to 241 yards and 3 touchdowns as Hill was the primary signal caller. Mangum has two seasons of eligibility left and he will have to pick up the slack after losing BYU all-time leading rusher Jamaal Williams. Squally Canada will be the starter but there is a stable of three running backs behind him on the depth chart that can all play as BYU could adopt a running back by committee approach. The strength of the COugar unit is the offensive line which averages 323 pounds amongst the starters. The line looks like it is built for the run with guards Tuni Kanuch and Ului Lapuaho looking like the best pro prospects on offense.
 

Best Draft Prospects: Tuni Kanuch OG 5th/6th Round 2018.

                                       Ului Lapuaho OG 7th Round 2018.


Defense

The Cougars could be a formidable defense. The line is devoid of stars up front but they are filled with athletes who will rotate on and off the field on a constant basis due to their depth. Behind the line is a linebacking sorps which returns all starters from 2016 and is led by Fred Warner who looks like the best pro prospect on defense and the team for 2018.  The secondary will try to build upon the +12 turnover ratio the Cougars enjoyed last season which ranked 7th nationally and was a key component to their success.

Best Draft Prospects: Fred Warner OLB 4th Round 2018.                

                                       Troy Warner CB 4th Round 2020.


Special Teams:

The return game was far from memorable but the same can not be said about the kicking and punting game. BYU had a pair of game winning field goals early in the season and Rhett Almond will return. Almond has no issues with accuracy but distance is not the forte. Jonny Linehan is back and his hang time is a large reason why he had no punt returns against him 10 yards or longer all season.


Schedule:

We have already talked about the brutal schedule of BYU and this season they welcome Utah, Wisconsin and Boise State to Provo while playing LSU at a neutral site in early September. Mississippi State loook like the toughest road test so the schedule works in favor of the Cougars.


Draft and Overall Outlook:

BYU kinda flew under the radar after starting 1-3 and turning their season around. The beginning of the schedule is brutal again with LSU, Utah and Wisconsin all back-to-back. BYU will haver to win one of these games to grab some National spotlight time. BYU has a nice stable of young defenders with the opportunity to move up future draft boards this season.

 

DJ Boyer