How can a team go from 6-6 to 12-0 in one year? A) Recruit a Cam Newton (Auburn was 7-5 (3-5) last year)_or B) Significantly improve your team, play a bunch of WAC teams, and catch the big name teams on your schedule in down years.
Since there isn't another Cam Newton on the Market (and even if there was BYU wouldn't buy him), BYU's only chance is through route B.
vs Utah St
vs San Jose St
vs Idaho St (Yes I know that they are an FCS team, but unless the WAC commissioner is a miracle worker, the WAC will soon be a FCS conference, if it still exists at all.)
vs New Mexico St.
@ Louisiana Tech
As long as BYU shows up, these 6 games are gimmies and I won't waste any more time on them.
PS: This is no insult to any of the above teams. I have huge respect their programs, coaches and athletes. Its just that they will probably be double digit underdogs against the Cougars this year.
This game should be a BYU victory, but there a lot of unknowns and potential problems. BYU will have an almost entirely new secondary and the Hawaii QB, Braynt Moniz, threw for over 5000 yards last year. Plus, traveling to Hawaii to play is never easy. Hawaii's only loss at home was a close fought game vs then #14 USC. #11 Nevada's only loss on the season was at Hawaii.
On the positive side, at every position other than the DBs, BYU returns a wealth of talent and experience. To make things tougher on Hawai'i, they lose most of their WR and RB. The RBs that are returning for the Warriors had a combined total of 8 carries last season. In the passing game Moniz loses his top two, and 5 out of his top 6 targets.
Hawai'i will make things interesting for a little while, but the Cougars will put the game away early in the the second half.
A couple of weeks ago, this game was looking like it could be the toughest game on their schedule. James Rogers was applying for a medical redshirt to try and get his brother Jacquizz to stay another year. Ryan Katz is developing into a very capable quarterback. Play the game @ Oregon St, and that combination could spell trouble. Now with Jacquizz declaring for the draft and James' appeal for a 6th year in doubt, Oregon State potential 3 headed monster becomes a developing QB that is throwing to a young/inexperienced receiving corps (only 2 returning WR caught more than 5 passes last year), and a pair of running backs that combined for 6 carries last year.
Oregon St can be tough at home, but they just don't have the offensive fire power to knock of the Cougars in 2011.
Going on the road in the SEC is never easy. The SEC is far and away the best conference in college football. Fortunately for BYU, this is going to be a rebuilding year for the Rebels, who finished with an atypical 4-8 record last year. This game is going to come down to who can stop the run. 'Ole Miss returns all of its RB and its entire offensive line from last years squad which ran for 2491 yards (18th best in the nation) and 28 TDs. On Defense the Rebels will have some serious holes to fill. They lose 3/4 starting DBs, 2/3 LBs, and 3/4 down starting down linemen. They also lose both back up defensive tackles. That leaves them with almost Zero experience up the middle. If BYU can take advantage of that (and with BYU's O line I think they will), it could be a long night for the Rebels.
I think the lack of experience on the Rebels interior defensive line is going to make the difference and BYU wins its opener in Oxford
Anything can and often does happen in this rivalry game. I expect both of these teams to be very good next year. Both BYU and Utah return a good amount of talent, but both have questions that need to be answered.
For Utah, who will step up at running back? Wide and Asiata graduate. Shakerin's career was sadly cut off by injury. The Utes need an answer soon. Don't be surprised if true freshman Harvey Langi sees significant playing time this fall.
For BYU, the positions in question are in the defensive backfield. Both corners and strong safety Andrew Rich graduate. Those waiting in the wings have backup/ JC experience, as well as sufficient talent, but we will have to wait to see how well they can transition their skills and experience into a starting D-I role.
Last year both teams struggled to move the ball on the ground. If either team can establish a run game, they could pull away from the other. With BYU returning 4/5 offensive linemen and all three running backs, I see the Cougars winning a close one in Provo.
Texas is another program that had a down year last year. I do expect UT to be better this year, but it is hard to go from 4-8 to 10-2 or 9-3 in a single year. Much will hang on the Longhorns QB. Gilbert threw for 2744 yards and completed 59% of his passes, which is by no means bad and is better than the 2316 yards and 57.2% that Jake heaps threw for. The 2 big problems that Longhorn should be concerned about is the TD/INT ratio (10:17 vs Heaps' 15:9) and the Gilbert's lack of improvement over the progression of the season. Lets take a look at how these 2 QBs did or did not progress over the course of the season, using their TDs and INTs to keep track.
Start # TDs INTs TDs INTs
1 0 0 0 0
2 1 0 0 2
3 2 3 0 1
4 1 1 0 2
5 0 1 1 1
6 0 0 2 0
7 2 3 4 0
8 0 1 2 0
9 1 5 1 1
10 0 1
11 2 0
12 1 2
Texas will again return to greatness, but with an interception prone QB, struggling running game, and an almost completely new coaching staff, I doubt Texas will be ready to keep up with the Cougars in early September.
Who would have thought that in a season with games @ Oregon St, @ Ole Miss, @ Texas, and vs Utah, that a home game against the University of Central Florida could be BYU's most difficult game.
UCF is coming off an 11 win season including a win over Georgia in the Liberty Bowl and a top 20 ranking. They featured the 8th best scoring defence in the country (17.1), while averaging over 32 ppg themselves.
BYU's schedule leading up to this point will be very challenging. @ 'Ole Miss, @ Texas, vs Utah, then the Cougars have a shortened week to prepare for arguably the best team on their schedule. The cougars can not afford to come into this game physically and emotionally exhausted. Fortunately I expect the cougars to avoid this trap because they will be riding a wave of confidence after knocking of 3 AQ teams in a row.
BYU will be very good next year. They return almost their entire offense. The D line will be deeper, the linebackers will be better. The only question is in the defensive backfield. The talent is there, we will just have to wait and see how it will transition on to the field. Will they be good enough to go undefeated?
In 2011, the answer is yes. In a different year with a different schedule, the answer may not be the same, but as discussed in the previous slides, BYU is catching several of its traditional "Powerhouse" opponents in possible rebuilding years. It is time to get excited. Cougar fans will be in for a treat this year.