The 2016 college football season is officially here!
The Arizona Wildcats open their season in Glendale at the University of Phoenix Stadium against the BYU Cougars on Saturday night. To ensure everyone is somewhat familiar with Saturday’s opponent, let’s take a look at the Cougars.
2015 Record: 9-4; 9-3 regular season with a loss to Utah in the Las Vegas Bowl.
Key Offensive Players: Taysom Hill (QB), Tanner Mangum (QB), Algernon Brown (RB), Jamaal Williams (RB), Nick Kurtz (WR), Jonah Trinnaman (WR), Mitchell Juergens (WR)
Key Defensive Players: Sae Tautu (DE), Fred Warner (LB), Harvey Langi (LB), Kai Nacua (FS), Micah Hannemann (SS), Michael Davis (CB)
Overall, BYU was successful in 2015 despite a season-ending injury to Taysom Hill in week one. They were able to salvage the season with Mangum leading the offense. Both quarterbacks return, which provides excellent depth at the position.
Hill, a dual-threat, has recovered from a Lisfranc injury and will be the starter against the Wildcats.
During the offseason, former head coach Bronco Mendenhall left BYU to become the head coach at Virginia. This led to the hiring of former Cougar player Kalani Sitake.
Sitake was hired from Oregon State where he was the defensive coordinator. Prior to his DC stint with the Beavers, he was with Utah since 2005, and was the Utes’ defensive coordinator starting in 2009. It’s safe to say that there is plenty of familiarity between Sitake and Rich Rodriguez.
The Cougars are returning talent on both sides of the ball. They will also take the field with a veteran offensive line unit that has an average weight just north of 300 lbs. The size of the O-line could be a major factor if they’re able to overpower UA’s lighter defensive line and protect Hill from the pass rush.
I don’t expect that this contest will suffer from a shortage of points. BYU averaged nearly 34 points a game last season but just under 17 in losses. They can definitely be slowed down. I think the key to doing so will be to keep Hill controlled as a runner.