When it comes to preseason preview guides, there are three names that stand out above all the rest. The first is Phil Steele, who publishes a massive preview magazine that has become so revered among blogger and sportswriter types that the release date is sometimes called "Steelemas". The second is SBN's own Bill Connelly, who brings a statistical focus to previews that helps cut through the noise. The last is Paul Myerberg of USA TODAY, who counts down every team in the country, starting with lowly #125, all the way up #1 (which, spoiler alert, is probably going to be Alabama).
Today, he hit the team near and dear to our hearts, BYU, who cracked the rankings at #32, which to me at least, feels totally fair. I encourage you all to read it.
Here are some of the highlights:
Where Brigham Young fans hang out: I'm always pleasantly surprised by the number of solid BYU sites, such as... Vanquish the Foe... among others
Paul, you are a gentleman and a scholar, and of course, the check is in the mail.
On Coach Mendenhall:
BYU's choice has been an inspired one; I have no doubt that as long as Mendenhall remains with the program, we'll see BYU competing for a spot at the national table. For now, Mendenhall's task is to lead the Cougars to the next level while taking a Notre Dame-like approach to non-conference scheduling.
There is a reason that Mendenhall was signed to an extension, and it's nice to see confidence in him from outside the program, hiccups on offense notwithstanding.
On Taysom Hill, who, let's face it, is going to be the starter:
He's a touch different: Hill is still developing as a passer, but he'll give this offense an immediate and substantial boost in the running game. Patience will be key, particularly given the lack of prototypical experience, but the way he handled himself as a rookie starter bodes extremely well for Hill's future in this offense. Now, a word of caution: BYU has held similar expectations for young stars in the past only to be disappointed, so let's punch the brakes a touch heading into Hill's starting debut. But the talent, toughness and fortitude is there; I think Hill will be a really nice player for BYU, albeit one that might need a few weeks – if not a few months – to gain the comfort level needed to excel against a rough schedule. It's still perfectly acceptable to be excited about his potential – since he's already an upgrade, and will only get better with each passing week
This also strikes me as pretty fair. Even as a quasi-neutral observer, I'm pretty excited about what Hill could *potentially* bring to the table, especially given the relatively deep backfield he'll share and a superior receiving corps, but we've also seen this movie before about promising young BYU QB will be the NEXT BIG THING, and with Texas looming in week 2 (and with what could be a pretty good UVA defensive backfield in week 1), Hill won't have too much time to figure things out if BYU wants to have a special season.
On BYU's receiving weapons:
The Cougars also have one of the nation's strongest receiver corps. It's a group paced by senior Cody Hoffman (100 receptions for 1,248 yards and 11 touchdowns), the most underrated skill player in the FBS and an easy All-American contender. Quite simply, Hoffman has the size, speed, ball skills and toughness – don't doubt his toughness, not after the San Diego State game – to be one of the top players in the country....Hoffman alone is worth the price of admission.
I've been trying to sing Hoffman's praises as a potential All-American to any of the B1G bros that will listen, and given BYU's multiple bigger name opponents this season, he'll get plenty of chances to show the country at large what he can do.
Are you ready for some superlatives about the BYU defense? Let's cut to some superlatives about BYU's defense:
Defense: Sadly, this defense isn't the best in college football.
Search your feelings Paul. I promise you that if you study the best defenses in the country, you'll eventually see the light and understand that BYU is the best.
What's that? I should keep reading? Well, okay.
It's merely well within the top five, right alongside Alabama, Michigan State, Stanford and Notre Dame – so if not the best, it's just one of the five elite, dream-crushing, back-breaking units in the entire FBS.
Wellllllll, I'll allow it.
What I love: BYU's defense accepts the responsibility – no, loves the responsibility – of carrying this entire team while the offense rounds into shape, carrying an otherwise pedestrian team to within a few touchdowns of 10 wins against one of the nation's toughest slates. There's no reason, none whatsoever, that BYU's defense won't again be the heart and soul of the Cougars' push into the national conversation. If only every defense was this wonderful – I mean, scoring would be down, but those who admire defensive excellence will adore the Cougars' tenacity.
Senior weak side linebacker Kyle Van Noy (53 tackles, 22.0 for loss, 13.0 sacks) might be the best player in college football – not the best weak side linebacker, nor the best linebacker, but the best all-around player currently in the FBS.
I'll take every word of that.
Let's skip ahead and get to the juicy bits. How does he see BYU actually finishing this season?
BYU will struggle at times against this schedule as the offense develops. There are six extremely difficult games: Texas, Utah – due to the nature of the rivalry – Georgia Tech, Boise State, Wisconsin and Notre Dame. I think taking two of the six is the absolute baseline; 3-3 is a possibility, but taking four would be an amazing accomplishment. Here's what I feel: BYU wins eight games during the regular season, dropping four dates with terrific competition, and heads into the postseason on the edge of a national ranking. Two things to consider: one, winning eight games against this schedule would be impressive, and two, BYU could achieve much more should its offense develop ahead of schedule.
I completely agree, especially with Georgia Tech, a game that I think a lot of BYU fans are seriously underrating as a dangerous matchup. Houston could potentially be a lot better this season, and Utah State and Nevada are hardly pushovers. If Hill blossoms into an above average starter (AND can stay healthy), this is a team that could win 9 games and be in the top 16. I personally think eight is also the most likely, but there is a good chance BYU finishes higher than where they are slated right now.
Feel free to open up a new tab and read the whole thing. What do you think? Is he fair? Is he being too kind or too harsh? Would you rank BYU differently than #32?