Confused? Check out the advanced-stats glossary here. Below, a unique review of last year's team, a unit-by-unit breakdown of this year's roster, the full 2016 schedule with win projections for each game, and more.
1. Change can be good
Bronco Mendenhall is a very good coach, probably the second-best BYU has ever had. A quick glance at SRS ratings shows LaVell Edwards fielded 17 of BYU's 25 best teams, but Mendenhall is in second place with six.
In a time of upheaval, with BYU leaving the Mountain West in favor of football independence amid ongoing Big 12 rumors, Mendenhall guided well. In five years as an independent, BYU never won fewer than eight games and three times ranked in the S&P+ top 40.
In 2015, for the sixth time in Mendenhall's 11-year tenure, BYU won at least nine games. The Cougars scored thrilling wins over Nebraska and Boise State, mostly dominated lesser opponents, and showed resilience after a disastrous start against Utah in the Las Vegas Bowl. Down 35-0 after 10 minutes and a deluge of turnovers, they got to within 35-28.
BYU seemed to hit a ceiling under Mendenhall, but it was a pretty good ceiling, one that nobody besides Edwards has managed. I defended Mendenhall pretty frequently to BYU fans. That Mendenhall wasn't as successful as Edwards was a point of resentment, but Edwards was a once-in-a-lifetime hire. Almost anybody BYU could hire would fail in comparison.
If Mendenhall would have stayed at BYU for another 10 years and then retired, that would have probably worked out just fine. A certain propensity for borderline-dirty play would have resulted in a few more incidents, but Mendenhall would have won about 75 to 90 games, probably with a couple of 10- or 11-wins seasons.
That said, his departure for Virginia might not be the worst thing. For one thing, he didn't think he was going to get another 10 years.
"There was a significant change toward the end of last season. It was pretty clear – no, that’s an understatement. It was crystal clear that I had done what I was capable of and supposed to do at BYU with the time I was there."
It appeared this was a coaching marriage gone stale. Mendenhall didn't know what else he could do to move the program forward through independence, and at some point BYU administration was going to get tired of only beating mediocre and bad teams. Mendenhall welcomed Virginia's advances, and BYU got a chance to start over.
Because the BYU head coach needs to be a member in good standing with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Cougars don't really have the option of making coaching changes too frequently, as the pool of qualified candidates isn't particularly deep. (Only three men have coached BYU since 1972.)
But in that pool were some intriguing names, and once Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo passed, the Cougars landed one of the more accomplished young defensive coaches in the West. Former BYU fullback and Utah/Oregon State defensive coordinator Kalani Sitake takes over.
The 40-year-old has spent 13 of his 15 years as a coach in Utah, taking a sojourn to Oregon State in 2015. He is familiar with the job and its requirements; he checks a lot of boxes. Now we get to find out if he's a good head coach.
2015 Schedule & Results
|Record: 9-4 | Adj. Record: 9-4 | Final F/+ Rk: 35 | Final S&P+ Rk: 38|
|Date||Opponent||Opp. F/+ Rk||Score||W-L||Percentile
|6-Nov||at San Jose State||89||17-16||W||79%||94%||-12.2||-12.5|
|28-Nov||at Utah State||53||51-28||W||75%||86%||+23.3||+20.0|
|Points Per Game||33.7||40||22.8||34|
2. Shaky when it counted most
Mendenhall's teams were their own worst enemy at times, making the one error they absolutely couldn't and sometimes wasting their best performances in games that didn't matter.
In 2015, the Cougars played three of their four worst games against the three best teams on the schedule.
- Average Percentile Performance (vs. F/+ top 30): 26% (~top 95) | Record: 0-3 | Yards per play: Opp 5.2, BYU 4.1 (-1.1)
- Average Percentile Performance (vs. everyone else): 77% (~top 30) | Record: 9-1 | Yards per play: BYU 6.6, Opp 4.8 (+1.8)
That's not how you ingratiate yourself to a fanbase. In two of these three, the Cougars' tenacity either kept them close (against UCLA) or allowed them to battle back (Utah), but on a per-play basis, an offense that was so good against almost everybody else was mistake-prone.
The UCLA and Michigan games came right after exhausting wins, and the Utah game came after Mendenhall's announced departure. Building narratives off of a small sample can be a pretty foolish exercise. Still, in a marriage that was already problematic, these performances didn't help.
|FIVE FACTORS -- OFFENSE|
|Raw Category||Rk||Opp. Adj. Category||Rk|
|EFFICIENCY||Succ. Rt.||42.3%||61||Succ. Rt. +||109.5||33|
|FIELD POSITION||Def. Avg. FP||30.1||73||Def. FP+||29.5||62|
|FINISHING DRIVES||Pts. Per Scoring Opportunity||5.2||7||Redzone S&P+||118.1||16|
|Q1 Rk||26||1st Down Rk||31|
|Q2 Rk||41||2nd Down Rk||76|
|Q3 Rk||14||3rd Down Rk||8|
3. A familiar face
Sitake was a fullback in college and spent two years as an offensive asisstant for Southern Utah (2003-04); he's not a total blank slate when it comes to offense. Still, one assumes he'll play more of a day-to-day role on defense.
And he's handed over the offense to somebody who might know a thing or two about running the BYU offense.
Detmer won the 1990 Heisman, threw for 15,031 yards and 121 touchdowns in his Cougar career, then threw for 6,351 more in a a decent pro career.
After a stint as an investor took a nasty turn, he ended up in coaching. In five years of leading St. Andrews Episcopal School in Texas, he converted a winless team into one that went 8-1 last year. And now he takes a huge leap, from a small private school in Austin to the coaches' box at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
High school coaching experience hones your teaching skills, but we'll see how Detmer does as a first-time play-caller at the college level. He is going to slow things down a bit, huddling between plays and attempting to vary formations -- think of something midway between last year's BYU offense and the typical Stanford offense. One assumes Detmer's mind is sharp, but we'll see if there are any growing pains.
Note: players in bold below are 2016 returnees. Players in italics are questionable with injury/suspension.
|Tanner Mangum||6'3, 215||So.||4 stars (6.0)||0.9448||267||446||3377||23||10||59.9%||29||6.1%||6.7|
|Taysom Hill||6'2, 230||Sr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8484||21||34||268||1||1||61.8%||3||8.1%||6.9|
|Beau Hoge||6'1, 201||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8258||10||17||137||1||1||58.8%||1||5.6%||7.2|
|Koy Detmer Jr.||5'10, 170||So.||2 stars (5.2)||NR||3||3||57||0||0||100.0%||0||0.0%||19.0|
|Jaren Hall||6'1, 195||Fr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8549|
4. This might be awkward
After throwing for 2,938 yards and rushing for 1,344 in 2013, the electric Taysom Hill missed most of the last two years with injury. In what was supposed to be his senior season last fall, he suffered a season-ending foot injury in the opening game. He was granted a sixth year of eligibility, which is great news, and he elected to stay in Provo.
One problem: In Hill's absence, freshman Tanner Mangum thrived. Recently back from a two-year LDS mission, the former blue-chipper threw for 3,377 yards. He struggled against some of the better defenses -- passer rating against UCLA, Michigan, Missouri, and Utah: 97.3; against everybody else: 160.3 -- but he cleared every hurdle you could ask a freshman to clear. And he seems tailor-made for whatever a Detmer offense becomes.
One would assume that if Mangum were to win the starting job, there could still be a short-yardage or goal line package to utilize Hill. Still, BYU basically has two returning starting quarterbacks, and that could be both a blessing and a curse. The moment one struggles, the urge to shuffle to the other could be strong.
|Algernon Brown||RB/FB||6'1, 245||Sr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8495||127||709||11||5.6||6.4||37.8%||4||1|
|RB||6'2, 220||Sr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8335||112||517||4||4.6||3.5||36.6%||2||1|
|Tanner Mangum||QB||6'3, 215||So.||4 stars (6.0)||0.9448||33||100||2||3.0||2.3||27.3%||5||3|
|Beau Hoge||QB||6'1, 201||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8258||15||57||2||3.8||2.2||40.0%||0||0|
|Riley Burt||RB||6'1, 206||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8166||14||86||0||6.1||7.3||42.9%||1||1|
|Taysom Hill||QB||6'2, 230||Sr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8484||6||83||2||13.8||9.4||83.3%||0||0|
|Colby Hansen||RB||5'11, 195||Jr.||NR||NR||5||17||0||3.4||1.5||40.0%||0||0|
|Toloa'i Ho Ching||RB||6'1, 240||Jr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8525|
|RB||5'11, 200||So.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8520|
|Brayden El-Bakri||FB||6'0, 236||So.||NR||NR|
|Sione Finau||RB||5'11, 170||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8232|
|Rivals||247 Comp.||Targets||Catches||Yards||Catch Rate||Target
|Nick Kurtz||WR||6'6, 210||Sr.||4 stars (5.8)||0.8705||63||39||578||61.9%||13.2%||9.2||61.9%||54.0%||1.57|
|Mitchell Juergens||WR||5'10, 181||Sr.||NR||NR||55||37||471||67.3%||11.5%||8.6||58.2%||49.1%||1.54|
|Colby Pearson||WR||6'0, 203||Sr.||NR||NR||30||22||210||73.3%||6.3%||7.0||56.7%||50.0%||1.19|
|Algernon Brown||RB||6'1, 245||Sr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8495||17||13||71||76.5%||3.5%||4.2||64.7%||35.3%||1.28|
|Moroni Laulu-Pututau||WR||6'4, 211||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7867||10||6||112||60.0%||2.1%||11.2||60.0%||40.0%||2.44|
|Trey Dye||RB/WR||5'9, 179||Jr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.8120||4||4||67||100.0%||0.8%||16.8||50.0%||75.0%||2.08|
|Josh Weeks||TE||6'4, 232||So.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8590||3||3||23||100.0%||0.6%||7.7||66.7%||66.7%||0.90|
|Akile Davis||WR||6'2, 191||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8164||3||1||9||33.3%||0.6%||3.0||100.0%||33.3%||0.69|
|Bryan Sampson||TE||6'4, 235||Sr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8484|
|Garrett Juergens||WR||5'10, 184||Sr.||NR||NR|
|Tanner Balderree||TE||6'3, 248||Jr.||NR||NR|
|Nate Sampton||TE||6'2, 240||So.||NR||NR|
|Jonah Trinnaman||WR||6'0, 190||Jr.||4 stars (5.8)||0.8743|
|Hank Tuipulotu||TE||6'3, 225||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8083|
|Alevi Hifo||WR||5'10, 180||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8267|
5. The QB of choice can work with this
The reinstatement of center Tejan Koroma, who has been suspended for much of the offseason, should ensure BYU has a steady line. The Cougars' line stats were neither good nor bad last year, but they return almost their entire two-deep, sans guard Ryker Matthews. And size isn't an issue -- the eight returnees with starting experience average 6'4, 313.
But whether Detmer is going with a run-friendly look with Hill in the backfield or wants an all-out, five-receiver attack, it would appear he's got the pieces.
Jamaal Williams -- another veteran who got hurt last year (he got hurt, then withdrew from school for a semester, anyway) -- returns, and last year's leading rusher, Algernon Brown, will move to more of a fullback role. With Hill, that would give BYU three accomplished runners in the same backfield. And between Washington State transfer Squally Canada and sophomore Riley Burt, the Cougars could have decent halfback depth.
The receiver position has thinned out but returns solid weapons. Nick Kurtz averaged 9.2 yards per target and came up especially big against Nebraska and Cincinnati (combined: 11 catches, 242 yards), Mitchell Juergens has caught 65 passes over two years, and sophomore Moroni Laulu-Pututau had a couple of big catches last year and was a 2016 spring star. Four-star JUCO Jonah Trinnaman could play a role, too. Depth might be a concern with a couple of injuries, but if the injury bug is kind, this group could be excellent.
|Rivals||247 Comp.||2015 Starts||Career Starts||Honors/Notes|
|Kyle Johnson||RG||6'4, 319||Sr.||NR||NR||7||27|
|Tejan Koroma||C||6'0, 290||Jr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.7719||12||25|
|Ului Lapuaho||LG||6'7, 333||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8373||10||18|
|Brad Wilcox||LT||6'7, 310||Sr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.8081||12||12|
|Tuni Kanuch||RG||6'3, 325||Jr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8484||8||12|
|Parker Dawe||C||6'3, 301||Sr.||NR||NR||2||2|
|Austin Hoyt||RT||6'8, 282||So.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8549||2||2|
|Jaterrius Gulley||LG||6'2, 346||So.||2 stars (5.2)||0.7000||1||1|
|JJ Nwigwe||LT||6'5, 278||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7948||0||0|
|Jacob Jimenez||LG||6'5, 292||So.||2 stars (5.3)||0.7923||0||0|
|Quin Ficklin||C||6'3, 280||So.||2 stars (5.3)||0.8009||0||0|
|Thomas Shoaf||RT||6'5, 265||Fr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8353|
|Austin Chambers||OL||6'4, 270||Fr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8416|
|Lisala Tai||OL||6'7, 310||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8219|
|Caden Haws||OL||6'2, 275||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8104|
|FIVE FACTORS -- DEFENSE|
|Raw Category||Rk||Opp. Adj. Category||Rk|
|EFFICIENCY||Succ. Rt.||39.2%||47||Succ. Rt. +||102.6||54|
|FIELD POSITION||Off. Avg. FP||29.4||79||Off. FP+||29.8||72|
|FINISHING DRIVES||Pts. Per Scoring Opportunity||3.9||25||Redzone S&P+||111.9||26|
|Q1 Rk||60||1st Down Rk||47|
|Q2 Rk||6||2nd Down Rk||24|
|Q3 Rk||49||3rd Down Rk||61|
6. A Sitake-Tuiaki defense
If you're a fan of a rival, you could point out that when Sitake left his job as Utah defensive coordinator to take the same job at Oregon State, OSU's defensive ratings plummeted (from 73rd to 110th in Def. S&P+) while Utah's improved (from 30th to 14th). That would be ignoring the talent Utah returned and the talent Oregon State didn't, but it's a reminder that Sitake's aggressive defense doesn't work with just any personnel.
New coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki served as Sitake's defensive line coach at Utah and linebackers coach at Oregon State. Their Utah defense was a unique mix of conservative run defense and ultra-aggressive pass defense. The Utes had a spectacular pass rush and an aggressive secondary that was willing to get beaten a few times in the name of making plays.
At first glance, it would seem the personnel could fit. BYU is incredibly experienced in the secondary, and while leading pass rusher Bronson Kaufusi is now a Baltimore Raven, six players with at least three sacks last fall return. Run defense might be a question mark, but experience is good up front, too.
|Rivals||247 Comp.||GP||Tackles||% of Team||TFL||Sacks||Int||PBU||FF||FR|
|Sae Tautu||DE||6'4, 245||Sr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.8111||13||31.0||4.4%||9.0||4.0||0||0||0||0|
|Sione Takitaki||DE||6'2, 240||Jr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8510||6||17.0||2.4%||7.0||3.5||0||0||0||0|
|Tomasi Laulile||DE||6'4, 288||Sr.||NR||NR||12||20.0||2.8%||5.5||3.0||0||0||0||1|
|Logan Taele||DE||6'2, 299||Sr.||NR||NR||13||19.5||2.7%||6.5||1.5||0||0||0||0|
|Travis Tuiloma||NT||6'2, 301||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7889||9||18.0||2.5%||3.0||3.0||0||0||0||0|
|Kesni Tausinga||DE||6'1, 309||Jr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8432||11||6.5||0.9%||2.0||0.0||0||1||0||0|
|Tevita Mo'Unga||NT||6'2, 322||So.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8478||7||3.5||0.5%||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Moses Kaumatule||DE||6'2, 262||So.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8600||7||1.5||0.2%||0.5||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Troy Hinds||DE||6'5, 245||So.||4 stars (5.8)||0.9230|
|Handsome Tanielu||DT||6'2, 285||Jr.||4 stars (5.8)||0.8903|
|Zac Dawe||DT||6'4, 274||Fr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8479|
|Uriah Leiataua||DE||6'4, 238||Fr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8382|
|Trajan Pili||DE||6'2, 225||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8282|
|Freddy Livai||DE||6'4, 256||Fr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8079|
|Rivals||247 Comp.||GP||Tackles||% of Team||TFL||Sacks||Int||PBU||FF||FR|
|Fred Warner||OLB||6'4, 227||Jr.||4 stars (5.8)||0.8921||13||56.0||7.9%||11.5||4.0||2||1||0||1|
|Harvey Langi||OLB||6'3, 249||Sr.||4 stars (5.8)||0.9068||11||54.5||7.7%||6.5||4.5||2||1||0||0|
|Austin Heder||ILB||6'2, 240||Sr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8366||13||10.5||1.5%||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Butch Pau'u||ILB||6'0, 223||So.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8581||8||6.5||0.9%||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Va'a Niumatalolo||LB||6'2, 231||Jr.||2 stars (5.2)||NR||3||3.5||0.5%||1.0||1.0||0||0||0||0|
|Phillip Amone||LB||6'0, 240||So.||3 stars (5.5)||NR||2||2.0||0.3%||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Scott Huntsman||OLB||6'2, 227||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7826||5||2.0||0.3%||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Lene Lesatele||OLB||6'2, 245||Jr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8269||4||2.0||0.3%||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Rhett Sandlin||OLB||6'3, 249||So.||3 stars (5.6)||0.7900||7||2.0||0.3%||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Tyler Cook||LB||6'3, 230||So.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8478|
|Francis Bernard||ILB||6'1, 239||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8081|
|Morgan Unga||OLB||6'5, 205||So.||NR||NR|
|Keenan Pili||LB||6'3, 210||Fr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8465|
|Alema Pilimai||LB||6'4, 205||Fr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8405|
|Hirkley Latu||LB||6'3, 200||Fr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8287|
|Solofa Funa||LB||6'2, 225||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8096|
|Johnny Tapusoa||ILB||5'10, 225||Fr.||NR||NR|
7. Depth? Check. Ace pass rusher? Not sure
Kaufusi was a constant distraction for opposing blockers, and it's possible that his presence created a residual effect, opening up opportunities for others. BYU ranked fifth in Adj. Sack Rate, and there's no guarantee that the Cougars will post another high rating despite Sitake's defensive mentality and the pieces he inherits.
It's hard to see the rating falling too far, however. After some position changes, BYU boasts three effective ends and a unique pass rushing weapon in tackle Travis Tuiloma. Outside linebackers Fred Warner and Harvey Langi also proved effective attackers.
Shuffling has placed interesting players in attacking roles, but it has opened up a hole at inside linebacker, where senior Austin Heder and Butch Pau'u could battle to prove they can quarterback this front seven effectively.
|Rivals||247 Comp.||GP||Tackles||% of Team||TFL||Sacks||Int||PBU||FF||FR|
|Kai Nacua||FS||6'2, 208||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7891||12||52.5||7.4%||1||0||6||6||0||0|
|Micah Hannemann||SS||6'0, 200||Jr.||NR||NR||13||39.0||5.5%||1.5||1||2||7||0||0|
|Michael Davis||CB||6'2, 190||Sr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.7785||13||24.5||3.5%||1.5||0||0||9||1||0|
|Michael Shelton||CB||5'8, 175||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7954||12||21.0||3.0%||2||0||1||2||0||0|
|Jordan Preator||FS||6'0, 180||Jr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.7783||8||18.5||2.6%||1||0||1||1||1||0|
|Kavika Fonua (2014)||FS||6'0, 215||So.||3 stars (5.5)||0.7000||11||12.5||1.6%||1||0||0||0||0||0|
|Matt Hadley||FS||6'0, 210||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8292||11||12.0||1.7%||2||0||0||2||0||0|
|Grant Jones||SS||6'6, 205||Jr.||NR||NR||12||12.0||1.7%||0||0||0||1||0||0|
|Chris Badger||FS||6'0, 191||Sr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8641||13||10.5||1.5%||0||0||0||1||0||0|
|Eric Takenaka||SS||5'10, 210||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8056||10||9.5||1.3%||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Zayne Anderson||DB||6'2, 198||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8268||8||3.0||0.4%||0||0||0||0||0|
|Sawyer Powell||DB||6'1, 194||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8432|
|Akile Davis||CB||6'2, 191||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8164|
|Dayan Lake||CB||5'11, 203||RSFr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8730|
|Troy Warner||CB||6'1, 192||Fr.||4 stars (5.8)||0.9008|
|Max Tooley||DB||6'2, 195||Fr.||4 stars (5.8)||0.8608|
|Drew Jensen||DB||6'2, 195||Fr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8516|
|Isaiah Kaufusi||DB||6'2, 175||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8015|
8. The secondary should be strong
Sitake's approach can treaten to fail if the secondary isn't up to snuff. But after a year of shuffling and injury -- 10 players recorded at least 9.5 tackles, but only four played in all 13 games -- the Cougars appear to return both experience and play-making ability.
Safety Kai Nacua, corner Michael Davis, and corner-turned-safety Micah Hannemann combined to defense 30 passes last year, and every returning DB (plus sophomore Kavika Fonua, who missed 2015) proved they could make plays near the line of scrimmage. This unit will get burned here and there, which is scary considering some of the quarterbacks on the 2016 schedule (Arizona's Anu Solomon, UCLA's Josh Rosen, WVU's Skyler Howard, Boise State's Brett Rypien, Cincinnati's Gunner Kiel). But if the risk-to-reward balance is solid, and the pass rush is strong, BYU could survive.
|Jonny Linehan||6'0, 201||Sr.||62||42.7||3||19||18||59.7%|
|Austin Brasher||6'0, 183||Sr.||74||63.2||33||3||44.6%|
|Corey Edwards||6'0, 217||So.||7||56.4||1||0||14.3%|
|Riley Burt||KR||6'1, 206||So.||13||24.5||0|
|Michael Shelton||PR||5'8, 175||So.||10||11.0||0|
|Micah Hannemann||PR||6'0, 200||Jr.||10||3.5||0|
|Special Teams S&P+||51|
|Field Goal Efficiency||33|
|Punt Return Success Rate||97|
|Kick Return Success Rate||79|
|Punt Success Rate||94|
|Kickoff Success Rate||57|
9. Shore up that coverage unit
Losing place-kicker Trevor Samson hurts; he was the best special teams weapon BYU had last year. But while we wait to see if a new kicker can produce similar reliability, BYU could help itself significantly by hemming in return men a bit better. Despite solid distance and quite a few fair catches from punter Jonny Linehan, BYU ranked just 110th in opponent punt return average.
2016 Schedule & Projection Factors
|Date||Opponent||Proj. S&P+ Rk||Proj. Margin||Win Probability|
|24-Sep||vs. West Virginia||33||-0.8||48%|
|8-Oct||at Michigan State||22||-8.7||31%|
|20-Oct||at Boise State||36||-3.4||42%|
|Projected wins: 7.0|
|Five-Year F/+ Rk||19.4% (32)|
|2- and 5-Year Recruiting Rk||66 / 70|
|2015 TO Margin / Adj. TO Margin*||2 / -3.6|
|2015 TO Luck/Game||+2.2|
|Returning Production (Off. / Def.)||70% (67%, 73%)|
|2015 Second-order wins (difference)||8.6 (0.4)|
Our BYU blog
Our BYU blog
10. Another huge September
In a revealing offseason interview, Bronco Mendenhall said he didn't think BYU's football independence was viable long-term. And in what may have been a surprising response, AD Tom Holmoe more-or-less agreed. But whatever "long-term" means, BYU is attempting to prove itself with brutal early-season scheduling.
The Cougars faced Nebraska, Boise State, UCLA, and Michigan in September last year and take on Arizona, Utah, UCLA, Michigan State, and Mississippi State this time. LSU, Utah, Wisconsin, and Mississippi State are lined up for 2017. The Big 12 could come calling in that time, though if we've learned anything from the last six years, it's that the Big 12 cannot be counted on.
Regardless, the Sitake hire is fiercely important for the future. Sustainable for 50 years or not, BYU is independent right now and has a chance to prove itself in 2016 and beyond. And he should have a pretty good team. BYU appears to have the pieces its famous offensive coordinator needs, and if the secondary can avoid getting burned, the defense could be strong, too. This could easily be a top-30 team, and there are plenty of opportunities for statement wins.