Hello my dear football friends and family, welcome back to the BYU FOOTBALL POWER RANKINGS. It’s been too long and I think I can speak for everyone on this here website when I say that life is that much better in the fall. The air is a touch crisper. The grass is a shade greener. The energy is palpable.
It took me a while to get here though. This might sound strange but this last offseason has been surprisingly football-free. Usually after a season ends (which is after national signing day for us buffoons who obsess over recruiting) I would spend the next few months sitting on work related conference calls thinking about how the team progressed in the previous season and how they will fair in the season to come. I’d usually dedicate a portion of my summer to re-watching games and top plays to see if there is any insights to glean. Many years ago when I was in school I would purposefully eat lunch down at Legends Grille on the off chance that I could over hear football players talking shop. Even when football wasn’t happening, it was still very much alive in my heart.
This summer was different, and that’s because 2017 was different.
To quote one Peter Campbell, last year was “not great, Bob.” On many levels it was HISTORICALLY bad but we don’t need to go into great detail there. We all know the offense was putrid and that the defense was fatigued. The Cougars were a hard team to watch and it wasn’t so much that they were making major errors or committing a large number of penalties. If there was one thing that I took away from last year, it was how gosh dang boring BYU Football had become.
When I watch a game with my friends I get upset if people start to have non-football related conversations while the game is in progress. A commercial break might be an ok time to talk about Brad’s new promotion or Lesley’s new spin instructor but you sure as heck better not be talking about hand creams on 3rd and 10. By the end of last year I refused to hold everyone to this standard and instead embraced the fact that Cougar football could have put most anesthesiologists out of a job.
Over the last decade there have been ups and downs but no matter what there was a reason to watch the Cougars. There were some years of offensive prowess and others of defensive dominance. Granted both of these thing never seemed to happen in the same year but no matter what there was at least one compelling aspect to our program. We lost that in 2017, but I’m optimistic that BYU Football be watchable and maybe even enjoyable.
I sense that some of you are having a hard time seeing the light, so I’ll dedicate this week’s power rankings to the 10 of the most compelling storylines of the season. If you’re not ready for some football after this then you might.
LET’S DO THIS.
WEEK 0 POWER RANKINGS
10) FOUR TIGHT ENDS ON THE FIELD AT ONCE
THIS CAN HAPPEN. You bring JJ Nwigwe and Addison Pulsipher in tight and then split Dallin Holker and Matt Bushman out wide. THE WORLD WOULD NOT BE READY FOR THIS LEVEL OF BEEF. Alright fine this probably won’t happen but when you have a former offensive line coach as your coordinator you better be ready for some big bodies. The depth at tight end could be a strength for the Cougars if each player can improve in one aspect of their game. BYU fans have been clamoring for the “return of the tight end” and this very well could be the year it happens.
9) A HAPPY BUTCH PAU’U = SAD OPPONENTS
2016 Butch Pau’u was one of my favorite players in recent history. I attended 4 games that year and in every single one he would deliver a low that would make me fear for the ball carrier’s life. In 2017, things weren’t quite right with Butch. I’m not entirely sure what was holding him back (most likely lingering injuries) but by the sounds of it we should expect to hear some thunderous hits for #38 once again.
8) SKYLER “BIG BOOTS” SOUTHAM
I have it on good authority that absolutely no one has ever called Skyler Southam by the nickname BIG BOOTS but by I’m here to say that needs to change. Skyler was accurately named by his parents because my guy can kick the ball deep into the night sky, in an accurate direction. There are videos around the dark web of him connection on 50+ yard field goals in practice with ease, and if I’ve learned anything in my life it’s that if you can kick a 57-yard field goal without a rush or with pads on then sure you can maybe make a field goal of that distance in a game. Don’t let me rambling fool you, Skyler can kick the dang ball and by the year’s end he will be much deserving of his new nickname. YOU GOT THIS BIG BOOTS!
7) COACHES WITH ***GASP*** ACTUAL COLLEGE COACHING EXPERIENCE
This isn’t a dig at the previous coaching staff so much as it’s a sigh of relief that we have guys that actually have done this before. Jeff Grimes doesn’t have OC experience, but he’s coached offensive lineman for two decades and he has two former offensive coordinators as position coaches. I don’t expect it to be perfect but I do suspect that this offense will play with more purpose this season.
6) HAVING HIGHLIGHTS OTHER THAN COSMO’S DANCE
Our mascot is a dancing machine but that better not be the only highlight that makes Sports Center. In fact, if BYU doesn’t have any “OH DAMN” highlights this season I will personally go on the field and make one happen. With my clothes on. Probably.
5) SIONE TAKITAKI ON THE LOOSE
BYU’s pass rush decided to take a redshirt year in 2017, but hopefully moving Takitaki to the linebacker spot will free him up to terrorize opposing quarterbacks. It’s been a long journey for #16 but I think this year he can do more than just soften the blow of losing Fred Warner. This cat is going to make some big plays.
4) KHYIRIS TONGA IS GOING TO EAT A HUMAN ON LIVE TV
You think I’m joking but I’m dead serious when I say that the man named TONGA is going to completely devour another human. The big fella has been trying to shed weight since he came into camp and after all that hard work the man is going to be hungry.
3) COLLIE, BACK
Over the last few years the WR situation at BYU has been, how do I say this, AN UNMITIGATED DISASTER. Having an experienced receiver who comes from a family of dudes that just know how to catch the dang ball should help. There might be some guys on this team that are bigger and faster but Dylan Collie will be the guy that sets the tone.
2) POSITION CHANGES FOR THE BETTER
A lot has been made of all the players on the roster switching positions during the offseason. Some chicken littles (Hi Cougarboard!) have decided that this is a sign of panic and that we should be worried about depth and skill at each position. I’m not ready to declare that every player that made a change will be an All-American but I will say that I see some potential in a lot of these new faces in different places. Zayne Anderson moving from safety to linebacker seems like a no-brainer considering his speed and ability to hit people very hard. Dayan Ghanwoloku proved last year that he can be great open field tackler so I trust him at the safety spot. I didn’t see Matt Hadley or Beau Hoge seeing much of the field but I can see both of them making plays off the bench at running back. We’ve seen some position changes go very poorly (Bronson Kaufusi at linebacker) but we’ve seen some of them be a great success (Francis Bernard from RB to LB). Let us pray that they’re more like the latter.
1) QUARTERBACKS WILL KEEP THINGS...INTERESTING
Tanner Mangum worked his way back from a devastating injury and has been declared the starter. It’s great to see him back in action but that doesn’t mean that we won’t see Zach Wilson. If all goes well, Tanner will return to 2015 form and play with a little more confidence. Even if it doesn’t go well then Zach Wilson will take over and get some game experience under his belt before taking the reigns in 2019 (that is if Jaren Hall doesn’t steal it out from under him).
THIS SEASON ON POWER RANKINGS
No actual football has happened yet so that prevents us from doing our full gambit of fun but here is a quick breakdown of what you can expect to see the rest of the season here at the POWER RANKINGS.
WELL THAT WAS WEIRD - We’ll highlight the strange happenings on and off the field
THE HEAT - BYU fans give the hottest of hot takes on twitter and we will share them here
FAMILY ALBUM - We’ll check in on our large adult sons to see what they’re posting on social media in a very non-creepy way, maybe
TWEET OF THE WEEK - Pretty self explanatory
JAKE VS JJ - Each week we’ll compare the weeks of Jake Welch and JJ Nwigwe
UP NEXT: Arizona
There is a long standing belief held by the ancient inhabitants of the Southwest that when God created the earth He gave us Arizona so that we might know what hell is going to feel like. Things could get similarly torturous when BYU heads down to Tucson and not just because they have to spend more than 24 hours in such a forsaken wasteland. Khalil Tate is a terrifyingly talented quarterback who could be a perfect fit in Kevin Sumlin’s offense. The first game under a new offensive staff (something both BYU and Arizona will be doing) is always tricky so let’s hope that Tate is slow on the uptake.
If you’re planning on making the trip to Tucson, here is fun video tour of the University of Arizona’s campus. Have a lovely time!