The Brigham Young Cougars open spring football practices today, March 4. It is the first time the majority of the 2013 football team will be able to meet with the new coaching staff and start preparing for next season. The start of anything new brings a lot of questions. Here are BLUE COUGAR FOOTBALL's six burning questions for BYU spring practices.
1. Will a starting quarterback be named?
Two senior quarterbacks graduated. The entire offensive coaching staff is new, and a new system will be installed. That leaves the starting quarterback position wide open. Taysom Hill started two games last year and saw spot duty in four more, but his season ended early with an injury. Where he is at in the recovery process, and how the injury has impacted his ability to play makes the QB race interesting.
The new coaching staff makes the open position race even more interesting. Jason Munns is the only one of the top four to have any experience with offensive coordinator Robert Anae. He also has the most seniority, which quarterback coach Jason Beck says will put him at the top of the chart on day one.
Ammon Olsen and Billy Green will also be in the mix.
2. How cautious will the coaching staff be with Taysom Hill?
When Hill injured his knee, the initial recovery time was reported as 4-6 months. It has been nearly five months since his October surgery. Positive reports about his recovery stating that he is ahead of schedule have come out periodically. Last week on the BYU sports program True Blue, Beck stated that Hill's participation in full team drills (11-on-11) was doubtful.
Quarterbacks are always treated as fragile in practice, no matter what drill is being run. Contact is forbidden. Assuming Hill is near 100 percent, it seems a little overly cautious to hold him out of full team drills. It would also hold him back in the QB race and hinder the offense's progress in learning the new offense, if Hill is eventually named the starter.
3. How well will the team pick up the new offense?
Brandon Doman is out as offensive coordinator and Robert Anae is back in. While he was the Cougars' offensive coordinator from 2005-10 and several players are still on the team from that time, Anae will have a new offense. The core of the offense will probably be the same, but Anae has spent the last two years in Arizona and saw two more offensive philosophies. He is bound to have some new wrinkles that will need to be learned. Picking up the new offense will be one of the major keys to success for the 2013 season.
4. Who will emerge on defense?
The best news of the offseason has been that linebacker Kyle Van Noy chose to stay for his senior year. His presence, however, doesn't mean all is well on the defensive side of the ball. The Cougar D has several important players to replace. Both middle linebackers are gone and all three down linemen. Cornerback Preston Hadley also has to be replaced.
Two of the starting down linemen appear to be set with Eathyn Manumaleuna and Bronson Kaufusi, but who will be number three? Uani Unga and Manoa Pikula have the inside track for the two linebacker spots, but will someone else surprise? Junior College cornerback Trenton Trammell is already enrolled, which will give him the inside track on Sam Lee for the open cornerback position, but will Mike Hague, who is expected to get a sixth year of eligibility, prevail with his experience in the system?
5. When will Bronson Kaufusi show up?
Kaufusi is busy with basketball obligations for at least the first week of spring practices as BYU will participate in the West Coast Conference tournament. BYU will probably end up with a NIT bid, which would extend the season another week or more. As noted above, he is expected to start, so the earlier he shows up the better. It is highly unlikely that the BYU basketball team will play through the end of spring practices.
6. Will the injury bug bite and how hard?
The biggest story out of spring practices last year was the injuries. Not a day would go by without two or three players going down. Several were held out the entire session due to surgeries performed in January or February. The injuries made team sessions difficult, to say the least. Holding any kind of a Blue vs. White Scrimmage was impossible. It is much more important this year that BYU stay healthy and get as much work done as possible.
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