BYU officially started spring football on Monday. Coming off of their second consecutive 8-5 season, BYU needs to make some changes. The following are a few issues, or potential issues, that need to be addressed before fall camp so BYU can break the 8-5 curse.
1. Quarterback Depth:
BYU can't become dependent on Taysom Hill. He's a great QB, especially when it comes to rushing the football, but BYU needs to shore up its backup quarterback situation. Senior JC transfer Christian Stewart was named the backup by Robert Anae after Monday's practice. He is followed on the depth chart by Billy Green, who played on the scout team last year. Bronco vocalized concern after Monday's practice that Stewart knows the offense, but needs to move the chains and execute in a live setting. Until this happens, Bronco admits he's concerned. There are currently only three quarterbacks on scholarship, and that should be the case through the fall. They might add another to add depth, but Anae stated they're in no rush. They want to find a guy that's the right fit rather than just scramble to fill a position on the roster.
2. Offensive Line:
BYU's offensive line, particularly when it came to pass-blocking, was terrible last year. This showed up in most of the games, but especially in the big games. Taysom Hill was constantly under duress and it had a dramatic impact on the passing game as a whole. They tried a few roll out packages where Taysom could throw on the run, but that was a band-aid to the bigger issues. The issue at hand was pass-blocking enough to give Taysom sufficient time to go through his reads and find the open guy. If Taysom Hill has time, undoubtedly BYU's passing game will be better than last year. Tuni Kanuch was mentioned by Bronco as being a good guard, and he raved about Ului Lapuaho. Add this to Kearsley, Ryker Matthews, and Deondre Wesley and BYU's O-Line could be better this year. The WR's will also have an impact, which leads me to my next point:
3. WR Speed:
BYU lacked WR speed last year. Hoffman, BYU's all-time leading receiver, wasn't particularly fast but he knew how to catch the ball and run routes. A crucial part of the passing game is the receivers getting open. The faster the receiver, the faster they'll get open, and the faster Hill can get rid of the ball. BYU is a good passing offense away from being a lethal offense. BYU finished ranked #10 in the country in rushing offense last year while BYU's passing game was far from that. By Adding Devon Blackmon, Michael Davis, Jordan Leslie, and Trey Dye, BYU should have plenty of fast targets, at least on paper. Whether or not they pan out on the playing field in our "Go Fast Go Hard" and "Will over Skilll" offense is yet to be seen. Blackmon and Leslie won't join the team until Fall practices while Kurtz and Davis are seeing the majority of the reps at receiver thus far.
4. Defensive Line:
Bronco spouted that the defensive line has more depth than they've had in a while, but whether or not that means there are more able bodies, or that they're legitimately good, has yet to be seen. BYU's defense against big offensive fronts such as Notre Dame, Wisconsin, and Washington, was man-handled in the trenches last season. Part of that was the 3-4 scheme which means there are three defensive linemen around 300 lbs, and four linebackers around 250 lbs. If an offensive front has five guys that are 300 lbs, and a tight end that's around 280, and you put your guys in front of theirs, there is a clear advantage for the offense up front. That was evident in those games. This is the reason I like Bronson Kaufusi at OLB. He's dropped to 265 lbs, but he's big, tall, and will play the edge. Bronson likened how he'll be used similarly as he was in the 4-3 defense he played in high school. This gives BYU a strategic step up as far as another big body to help in the trenches against teams with huge offensive fronts. Bronco is a genius on the defensive side of the ball so I wouldn't doubt him on this one.
5. Field Goal Kicker
Justin Sorensen was a great kicker for BYU as a senior, but now he's graduated and there is a gaping hole that needs to be filled. Field goals can be the difference between a win and a loss. Corey Edwards has been mentioned as stepping in as a FG kicker in the summer, but when Bronco was asked on Monday how he sees the kicking situation, he had nothing to say. It's a concern. We should keep our eyes on that, because it could be the difference between a one-loss season or even going undefeated. (Not making any prophecies here.)
What do you think the Cougars need to work on this spring?