Business as usual for BYU defense with Howell as defensive coordinator

Just before the Brigham Young Cougars opened spring practices, head coach Bronco Mendenhall announced some new staff assignments. The most surprising assignment was Mendenhall relinquishing the defensive coordinator title to Nick Howell. That news immediately brought two thoughts to mind: 1) Great opportunity for Howell, and 2) Will the BYU defense take a step back?

Wanting to know what the rest of Cougar Nation thought about Howell's new assignment, BLUE COUGAR FOOTBALL asked site visitors, "How will the new coaching assignments effect the BYU defense?"

There was one caveat to Howell being named the defensive coordinator after Mendenhall had filled the role for two and a half seasons. Mendenhall will still call the plays during games, and he won't be completely hands off the defense. The two will work together to coordinate the defense, which probably goes a long way in explaining the poll results.

Almost half of all poll respondents (48%) think the new assignments will have no effect on the way the BYU defense plays in 2013. Another 42 percent of voters think the change will have a positive effect. The other 10 percent of voters were undecided.

In the press release, Mendenhall explained that Howell has, pretty much, been serving as the defensive coordinator already and assigning him this title is more of a formality than anything else. That leads me to feel the same as the 48 percent.

Mendenhall has built an amazing defense the last two years. BYU has been in the top 15 nationally both seasons, including a top 3 finish last year. It doesn't seem likely that he would step away, even if it is just a half-step, from the defense without feeling very comfortable with Howell and the impacts this may have. Having Mendenhall call defensive plays in games also goes a long way in feeling there will be no drop off in the defense this year under the new leadership structure.

When the 2013 season arrives, fans will have to remember that the Cougar D is replacing two-time leading tackler Brandon Ogletree, likely NFL first round draft pick Ezekiel Ansah, two-year starter Uona Kaveinga, and three-year starter Romney Fuga. Although fans should feel pretty good about the replacements, there will be some drop off, so if there is a bad game early in the year it should not be assumed that it is because of the coaching change.

Thank you to everyone who voted. Don't forget to vote in this week's poll: "Who will be BYU's second leading receiver in 2013?"

The Editor appreciates all feedback. He can be reached via email at


  1. The biggest loss is Funga. That may sould strange when Ansah is a first round pick, but look at the back ups.

    Kaufusi had 4.5 sacks (same as Ansah) as a back up. He isn't as good as Ziggy was, but he is not that far behind. Also, Manumaleauna is an upgrade over Tialavea. Eathyn was on pace for 8.5 sacks when he went down with injury. At defensive end, BYU will be just as good as they were last year (and possibly better).

    Who will be the starting DT? All of the DTs currently on the roster couldn't even beat out the undersized (for a DT) walk on Simote Vea to crack the 2 deep last year. After them you have a one guy fresh of a mission and a true freshman comming in. The drop of is Huge.

    At linebacker you are trading experience for athleticism. I expect minimal drop off.


Post a Comment