Coaching an FBS football team is no easy task, and being an Independent program makes it no easier. With the loss of key players and a tough schedule coming up, Coach Mendenhall has his hands full going into the 2012 season.
There is no quarterback controversy or conference realignment that directly affects BYU this spring, but it will be just as difficult. So, here are five things that will keep coach Mendenhall up at night.
The only thing tougher than playing a quality team is playing a quality team on the road. A contest in Boise is no piece of cake, but winning in South Bend is a tall task. Adding road games against Utah and Georgia Tech makes one difficult schedule.
With Boise State and Notre Dame in ESPN's Preseason Top 25, gaining wins will be hard. To make matters even more frustrating, the Boise game was recently moved to the fourth game of the season (the week after the Utah game). Good luck, Coach Mendenhall.
Riley Nelson may be able to scramble and lead the team efficiently, but let's face it, at some times last season he looked downright awful. Whether it be accuracy or decision making, Nelson has not proven that he is an elite quarterback.
Of course, Riley Nelson is great in clutch situations, but his overall performance is not always spectacular. As the starting quarterback and leader of the team, Nelson will have to step up and prove that he can produce against the likes of Notre Dame and Georgia Tech.
Ross Apo, Brandon Ogletree, Kyle Van Noy, Justin Sorensen and Brock Stringham all had to miss at least part of spring training due to injury or surgery, and the return date for a few of them is still unknown.
If the injury list grows, the Cougars may have a shallow depth chart this fall. Bronco better do something before the trend continues.
If you thought Kyle Van Noy was good, Manti Te'o is just as spectacular. Standing at 6'2" and weighing 255 pounds, Te'o is a tank on the defensive side of the ball. Last season, he had 128 tackles and is on the Lott IMPACT Trophy Watch List.
As an inside linebacker, Te'o is projected as a first-round draft pick next season. Actually, I'm not sure who should be more nervous about him—Mendenhall or Riley Nelson?
BYU's offensive line took a blow this offseason when Matt Reynolds entered the NFL draft and Terence Brown ran out of eligibility. Although three starters will return, Coach Mendenhall will have to play several of the younger lineman.
The young men that will see the most playing time will probably be Ryker Mathews, Braden Brown, Braden Hansen, Houston Reynolds and Fono Vakalahi, with Walter Kahaiali'i occasionally seeing the field.