The Cougars have officially wrapped up fall camp, and have moved on to specific game preparation for the Virginia Cavaliers. A lot has happened in the past few weeks of camp. Now that it's over, it’s time to briefly analyze what we have learned, what to watch for, what to hope for, and what to be concerned about.
(Please note that this is not intended to be a comprehensive analysis of BYU’s fall camp. Rather, it will focus on several highlights and headlines that came from camp.)
What Have We Learned?
We learned that Bronco Mendenhall is a little softer around the edges than many of us suspected. After the jersey name change debacle, many people were not only shocked upon hearing Bronco’s willingness to alter his decision, but also shocked by his demeanor in the interview where he addressed it. It was the first time many of us have heard Bronco publicly laugh, as well as be so personable, in almost a decade worth of media appearances.
We learned that for the first time in a couple of years, the Cougars will probably not have a quarterback controversy on their hands. After the episode involving Jake Heaps and Riley Nelson in 2011, and then the Riley Nelson injury situation last season, it must be comforting for BYU fans to hear the confidence of the coaching staff in selecting a healthy Taysom Hill as their definite 1st string quarterback for the season, with a very solid Ammon Olsen as his backup.
What Should We Watch For?
With a more potent offensive scheme this season, we should watch for the Cougars offense to contribute much more this year. The vibe coming from the offense over the course of fall camp has been one of much excitement and optimism. Robert Anae has made it clear that this year’s offense will operate at a quicker tempo than last season’s stagnant offense. With a competent offense last season, the Cougars could have very realistically won several more games. Don’t be surprised if we don’t see any ‘7-6’ or ‘6-3’ games this season, like we did last year.
Watch for Kyle Van Noy to have a spectacular season. He chose to return for his senior year after knowing that he would have been a lock to be selected in the NFL draft, especially after coming off of the best game of his career against San Diego State in the Poinsettia Bowl. The only reason he would risk injury and risk lowering his draft stock, would be because he feels like he still has room to improve not only as an athlete, but as a person. It’s hard to imagine how large of an impact an improved version of Van Noy can make for BYU this year, especially after last season’s dominance. This is definitely something to watch for.
What Should We Hope For?
We should hope for a much improved kicking game. The word from fall camp was that BYU fans can rest assured that the kicking woes of recent years are over. But I’m sure many BYU fans feel the same way, and that is that they will believe it when they see it. For now, all we can do is hope. For further information on the subject of BYU’s kicking game this year, see Chris Taney’s latest article, "The glory days of BYU kicking are back."
We should hope for no more key injuries. Injuries, particularly to the secondary, have greatly affected BYU over the course of fall camp. They simply cannot afford anymore key injuries in the defensive backfield from this point forward.
We should hope for a little bit of luck. Last year the Cougar’s didn't seem to get a lot of it, whether it was a field goal hitting off of the uprights, quarterback injuries, or fumbles not bouncing in our direction.
What Should We Be Concerned About?
The first thing that comes to mind for most Cougar fans would be the current state of the secondary. And if it’s not what comes to mind, it should be. The last thing you want to hear, especially with the most difficult schedule in school history just around the corner, is that your secondary is depleted. Luckily for BYU, their defense is heavily focused on the play of their front seven, so an injury laden secondary affects them less than it might affect other programs. Nonetheless, this is a place of certain concern.
In just over a week, we will have a much better understanding of an affect these topics will have on the Cougars performance this season. Keep these things in mind as you watch BYU battle Virginia next Saturday!