The bid of BYU football to go independent and truly become the Mormon equivalent of Notre Dame football is off to a halfway decent start. The Cougars have made bowl games each of the two seasons they’ve been on their own, and last year’s 7-5 year capped off with a very nice 23-6 bowl win over a hot San Diego State team playing on its home field. This year, though, could be a more trying time, as our college football coverage focuses in on Bronco Mendenhall’s team…
BYU’s biggest problem is going to be in the trenches. They’re very young in both lines. Offensively, that means running back Jamaal Williams is going to have a tough time fulfilling his potential, at least if you base that on his numbers in the box score.
Defensively, the Cougars use a 3-4 scheme, so a questionable line isn’t a disaster. Nonetheless, the kids up front need to at least tie up enough blockers to allow their solid outside linebackers, starting with Kyle Van Noya, to be able to make plays. And if they can force teams to the air, the BUY secondary is going to be good.
The passing game on the offensive side is going to be interesting. Note I did not say “good”, though it might well be. I just said “interesting.” Taysom Hill got the quarterback job as a freshman last year, but was injured two games into the year. He’s now back, and he has a solid target in wide receiver Cody Hoffman. We’ll get to find out how good Hill is, and more importantly, if he’ll enough time to get the ball downfield.
When you play as an independent, there’s a lot of money riding on whether you make a bowl, since there are no conference members to share revenue with. When you’re Notre Dame, and angling for regular BCS bowl spots, along with your own network TV contract, the math works out in down years.
BYU is under more pressure, given that they’ve never played in a major bowl game (and only in their national championship year of 1984 would they have based on current rules) and don’t have the national audience for a TV network. They need to keep grinding out bowl bids, but I don’t see it happening for them in 2013.