It seems to me that BYU football fell a little short in its quest for the National Championship of the Off-season title, bestowed by local media and Ute fans. It's a glorious achievement on which we anchor all our hopes and expectations. That way, when reality hits, our foundational Cougar belief system shatters and we spiral into a self-destructive cycle of anger, resentment, self-pity and finally madness. Oh the joy of sports fandom!
The "national champion of the off-season" vibe didn't hit me until the start of fall camp and it abruptly ended with Jordan Johnson's season ending injury. I still took the liberty of going through all the notes, stories, blogs, and media day material to create my expectations and the unfortunate possibilities that may kick off my slide into sports madness. Take a look at what I've found.
Some offseason news to get you excited
Other writers are hyping Taysom
Taysom Hill could do for BYU what Johnny Football did for A&M. This story wasn’t even from a local writer, but was probably the most flattering thing written about BYU’s team this year. Taysom Hill has similar athleticism, and is bigger and stronger than Manziel, minus the drinking and sleeping in.
Van Noy and Hoffman stayed
You may have heard this already, but BYU is bringing back its best two players, both talented enough to be drafted after their junior years. It doesn't seem to matter who BYU plays, Kyle Van Noy and Cody Hoffman have been able to get huge plays (and plays that would have been huge if the QB could hit a wide open receiver, or the opponents TE wouldn't somehow get a ball tipped right to him in the end zone). Paul Myerberg from USA Today believes Hoffman is a worthy All-American candidate, and Kyle Van Noy could be the best player. In. College. Football.
Some improvement to look for in the offense
BYU's offense was really close in most games in 2012. If this year's offense can just score less (for the other team), they can win 2-3 close games, unlike last season. No really, the offense in 2012 didn't even need to score more touchdowns to win 2 extra games.
A return to what works
Anae is back! As much as fans complained about him when he was first here, BYU was at least in the top 35 in offensive stats. They averaged around 35 points per game. The offense won games where the defense was lacking, QBs threw way more TDs than INTs, and they (the QBs) didn’t get injured.
Anae helped make that happen. He also should bring the discipline required to keep the offense from giving up points to the opposing defense.
On the other hand...
Is Anae predictable?
Anae is back. He had predictable game plans the first time around, to the point where opposing teams supposedly knew what plays they were calling. Now he’s trying to get plays off faster, and he’s doing it partly by a new playbook, but one that may be even simpler. So, taking an already predictable playbook and replacing it with something simpler? I don’t see any way that could backfire on him. . .
Will the O-line deliver?
The offensive line was really bad last year. In case you missed it, watch this first play. And this (11:20 mark). Since then the best two players from that line graduated. So there’s no way they could be any worse...right?
Speaking of offensive line, apparently the center snapped some balls on the turf in spring ball, but it’s a lot easier to do in real games, right? Plus, when has a messed up a snap ended up hurting them?
How strong are our cornerbacks?
Lastly, BYU usually seems to have an issue with cornerback talent, but Bronco Mendenhall does a good job scheming around it. So far, injuries have eliminated two cornerbacks for the season (Trenton Trammell and Jordan Johnson), and two for the first few games (Mike Hague and Sam Lee), while another (Jacob Hannemann), went pro in baseball. That could be pretty challenging to adjust for, even for coach Mendenhall.
What will happen?
There are so many questions out there that will only prove themselves with time. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait for the madness to begin. Go Cougars!