Well, it’s finally here. The 2016 college football season. I can honestly say I’m excited and I know a bunch of you are too.
As you are aware, the Arizona Wildcats are facing the BYU Cougars on Saturday in Glendale. It will be an interesting game for both Arizona and BYU. The ‘Cats really aren’t sure what they are going to see from the Cougars (except maybe man-press defense) and have questions about their defense they want to see answered.
To become a little more familiar with BYU, our own Ronnie Stoffle wrote a first look into the Cougars. One of our editors, Ryan Kelapire, wrote a piece on what BYU head coach Kalani Sitake thinks of Rich Rodriguez and Arizona.
What I want to focus on, however, are the five Cougar players I believe Wildcat fans should be on the lookout for.
Taysom Hill, QB (#7)
BYU offensive coordinator and QB coach Ty Detmer named Hill the starting QB against Arizona on August 23. Hill is a fifth-year senior (due to injuries), and let me tell you, he is talented. I’ve seen him play and he has an incredible awareness of what’s around him. He is a consistent passer and an even better runner. On top of that, USA Today has listed him as a preseason Heisman candidate. The biggest challenge for Arizona’s defense will be containing Hill and collapsing the pocket around him quickly. With the new aggressive style of defense, it is easily doable.
Tanner Mangum, QB (#12)
Another QB?! Yes, another QB. Mangum took over BYU’s offense as a true freshman last year when Hill was injured. He had himself quite a year going 267-of-446 for 3,377 yards, 23 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. He is mature despite being a sophomore and has great pocket presence. It is unknown if BYU will run a two QB system, but he is still someone to keep an eye on.
Jamaal Williams, RB (#21)
Williams did not play for BYU last year but he is back this year. From 2012 to 2014, he was a workhorse for the Cougars totaling 492 carries for 2,562 yards and 23 touchdowns. At 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, he might be a handful for Arizona’s undersized defense, though it will be interesting to see what type of shape he’ll be in.
Harvey Langi, LB/DL (#21)
Langi is a big hybrid linebacker/defensive lineman measuring 6-foot-3, 252 pounds. I believe he’ll be an anchor and leader for BYU’s defense this year. He is poised for a big season after racking up 68 tackles, 6.5 TFL, and 4.5 sacks last year as a junior.
BYU’s offensive line
I think the entire Cougar offensive line is something to watch. Averaging 6-foot-3, 307 pounds, they are a big group of guys. It will be interesting to see how they handle Arizona’s smaller, faster defensive linemen. It’s been noted in the past that the Cougs have a hard time dealing with quick d-lines, so Arizona’s speed will be a factor in disrupting BYU’s offense.
BYU released their week one depth chart and it can be found here.