This is the second post in a three part series about my conversation with Greg Wrubell. This post is a little broader than the previous and will include Wrubell's thoughts on BYU scheduling Alabama, recruiting, the defense, and what he looks forward to most in the upcoming season.
BYU's 2015 schedule is now full with the announcement of a home-and-home series with UCLA. On May 29th, CBS Sports writer Jeremy Fowler suggested that Alabama and BYU schedule each other in 2015. Although it is a moot point now, it wasn't when I spoke with Wrubell and he wasn't too keen on scheduling the game, saying, "Not if it meant five home games and seven road games. That just wouldn't be smart." BYU wants to schedule the big games and Mendenhall is firm in his scheduling philosophy of having a balance of what Wrubell called "red light, yellow light, and green light games." The Cougars now have five home, and seven away, games. There is speculation right now that the Cougars will bounce the Southern Miss game to another season.
BYU-So Miss series has already been bounced around; 2014 mtg in Provo was pushed back to 2016. BYU could ask that 2015 at USM move to '17...— Greg Wrubell (@gregwrubell) June 5, 2014
Having a recruiting coordinator Geoff Martzen, and recruiting staff, who focuses solely on recruiting has allowed for people to be aware of the senior talent available on the transfer market. Jordan Leslie's (UTEP) connection to BYU is Guy Holliday, but Keanu Nelson (Stanford) and Harvey Jackson (Nebraska) don't have connections to the program as far as Wrubell knows, other than Martzen identified and successfully recruited them.
While it is still too early to tell what kind of an impact Martzen is having on BYU recruiting, Wrubell thinks that he has "probably re-energized that part of the program," and suggests that we will really find out after a couple of recruiting classes have cycled through.
REPLACING KYLE VAN NOY
It's not easy to replace a guy that Wrubell thinks is "probably the most impactful defensive player that BYU ever had." There is not a linebacker at BYU now who can do exactly what Van Noy did. However, "I think it's a fact that there are so many good defensive players as part of this group that the sum will be greater than any individual part, and I think there are a collection of play makers in this group." Wrubell continued to say, "At this time of the Bronco Mendenhall era, we can conclude that it is the system that works with whoever is placed in it. It gets results every single year." He also pointed out that in the last three years that only four teams in the country with top 25 rankings in both points per game allowed and yards per play allowed. Mendenhall's defense is less about an individual stand out player and more about a system that uses the strengths of each player. That's why it works year-in and year-out.
Although Wrubell hasn't seen enough of Bronson Kaufusi at the outside linebacker position, he is intrigued and excited about the position change. Mendenhall thinks Kaufusi and Fua are a pair of NFL linebackers. For Wrubell it's pretty simple, when Mendenhall says something like that, "you trust him." It's been a while since Cougar fans have seen Zach Stout. Up to this point he has been a good story, but we need to wait and see if he can retain that position in the fall.
"They should be one of Bronco's better groups....you say that and then your a couple of injuries away from having a totally different perspective on things," said Wrubell. The number of bodies in the secondary position alone will prevent BYU from playing with a patchwork secondary like they did in the latter part of last season. Wrubell expects the position battle in the secondary "to be just fierce...It should be the most competitive with top level talent that we have seen in the Bronco Mendenhall era at all positions...and that excites me."
DEFENSIVE NEWCOMERS TO MAKE AN IMPACT & CURRENT PLAYERS FLYING UNDER THE RADAR
Wrubell wants to see which incoming linebacker will get the most playing time out of Warner, Cook, and Takitaki. He also wants to find out if Nebraska transfer Harvey Jackson is good enough to see time right away. JonRyheem Peoples and Marques Johnson "are not forgotten guys" but have not received as much attention for various reasons. Peoples redshirted last season and Johnson had a blood clot this last spring.
WHAT DOES GREG WRUBELL LOOKS FORWARD TO MOST IN THE UPCOMING SEASON
"I look forward to a strong start....I really, really, really hope that BYU gets off to a 2-0 start that allows people to get their hopes up a little bit, and justifiably so. Because if you can go to Austin and win, you're going to be a pretty good football team. Just getting to 2-0 would mean a lot for BYU this year because you're coming home for three straight, and if you were to take care of business at home, you'd find yourself in the month of October undefeated and now part of the early national discussion. It's been a long time since BYU has been able to be a part of that discussion."