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Monday, March 4, 2013

BYU Cougars Spring Football Burning Questions

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.

The Editor appreciates all feedback. He can be reached via email at bluecougarfootball@gmail.com

8 comments:

  1. I agree that Munns has a better shot at starting than many people automatically anointing believed. Hill is a wonderful talent, but he's behind because of an injury and there is no getting around that. Olsen and Green were not recruited just to ride the pine. Hague should just play with his grand-kids. Kaufusi is a known, so I don't mind him being out. Who will emerge along the O-Line is of more interest to me. Has the left side of the line Black, Alletto and Lawler especially, added some weight to those frames? Where will some of the newbe's fit in come fall...there are lots of them. Finally, I don't expect much change in Anae's offense. I do expect in the post Lance Reynolds era that BYU's running backs will greatly improve technically.

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    1. Thoae are some good thoughts.

      Most of the questiona for the o-line won't be anawered until the newbies come in the fall.

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    2. The problem with BYU now and forever has been speed on both sides of the ball. They don't have speed necessary to to run no huddle offense Anae wants to run. They need to utilize the big white guys that can catch tight end offense of the past. That's what they have and always will have. Defense the same. Although the last years D was one for all time with some good speed. Bronco needs oto get off his high horse and do some coaching instead smooth talking his short comings. 4-8 next season.

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  2. I believe Taysom Hill has made is mark and shown great ability as a play maker. He did not have the benefit of much work last spring or fall because of the two seniors. He will come back 100% (team doctors have already cleared him) and with a full spring, summer and fall under his belt, he will shine. He is also a great leader and will be even better having worked beside Riley, which by the way may ultimately be Riley's greatest impact on the future of BYU football. Anae will need a quarterback who is smart and fast with a innate ability to think fast on his feet. I believe this description fits Taysom precisely. I sure Munns would do well. But if BYU wants to be a championship team, it need to build for now and the future. Taysom Hill as a senior will compete for the Heisman Trophy, if not sooner! You heard it hear first. But Taysom needs to stay humble as well as confident and keep working hard everyday and I believe he will.

    The biggest benefit to the running game will come from Anae's new experience with more advanced run blocking scheme's from Arizona along with his higher expectations and drive to make the OL a little meaner and more explosive on the field.

    It will be fun to see the entire Offense push to raise their level of play to that of the defense, which Anae has expressed in his interviews.

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  3. Thanks for you continued support of the BYU football addicts everywhere. One thing that is always fun to see is what fans are most interested in. Rarely is it the same things, but that is what makes it fun.

    #1 Will a starting quarterback be named?

    I don't know and don't think it matters that much. Whether or not a starter is named, there is going to be a QB competition no matter what. My burn-o-meter (1-10): 1

    #2 How cautious will the coaching staff be with Taysom Hill?

    Very Cautious. Easy Answer. This kid has 3 more years to play. No need to risk a season damaging reinjury to get work in with the back up offensive line. Burn-o-meter: 1

    #3 How well will the team pick up the new offense?

    What the offenseis going to look like may qualify as a burning question, but not (at least for me) how well the team will pick it up. They will probably pick it about as well and as fast as most teams pick up new offenses. They'll be struggles early, but eventually oversome them. Burn-o-meter: 2

    #4 Who will emerge on defense?

    For the most part we already know what the deapth chart is gonig to look like. You could probably re write this question as "who will emerge at Defensive Tackle?" That is probably my most fiery burning question of the spring (In large part because there is no use asking about the offensive line until Fall Practice). Burn-O-Meter: 8.5

    #5 When will Bronson Kaufusi show up?

    Burn-o-meter: 0.
    He'll show up once basketball is over. He was very good last year when he was fresh off his mission. Missing some of spring practice won't be a problem and it will give those behind him a chance to show what they can do.

    #6 Will the injury bug bite and how hard?

    A very important question, and one that could shape the season. That being said, I think there are only a handful of players whose injuries could noticably affect BYU's ability to compete.

    Cody Hoffman, Kyle Van Noy, Jordan Johnson, and Eathyn Maanumaleauna. Thats it. Oh yes, any injury would be bad, but there is enough deapth (or lack of star power, depending on how you look at it) that any drop in performance would be only marginal by the time the season starts. Burn-o-meter: 2.5. Not because It isn't a good question, but it is not one I'm burning to know.

    Some of my top "burning questions"

    1 What is BYU's new offense going to look like?

    2) BYU's Defensive Tackle position. What is the deapth chart going to look like by the end of spring? Right now there are probably 6 linemen who could legitamately compete for that starting spot, which is the linch-pin of Bronco's defense.

    3) What will the back field dynamics be? Williams and Alisa are both very good with a lot of potential. How sill they be used and how will they split carries? What about Lasike and Pritchard? Lasike is the better runner, but I think Pritchard is the better blocker and receiver. How will they be utilized?

    4) Which TE(s) will have a big spring?

    There is a lot of talent at this position. Health and consistency have been a problem. I think that Cougar TE will be a force to be reckond with, but I couldn't tell you which one(s) will be the one(s) doing the damage.

    5) Boundary Corner.

    If the BYU defense could have been said to have a weakness last year, it would have been its defense (though #13 in the country is usually very impressive, but whith BYU in the top 3 in most important defensive catagories...). Will Trammel be able to transition to the DI level smoothly?

    We'll find out (to a degree) this spring.

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    1. Still stump thumping for Aliaa, huh?

      #13 doesn't tell the whole story. Pass rush can hide poor cover corners, which was the case in some games. Cornerback play was the weakness on D last year.

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    2. I agree about the #13 pass defense. The pass coverage by the DBs was definately the weakest part of the defense and is likely to be so again.

      That being said, I don't think it will be that big of an issue considering the strength of the rest of the defense.

      I think that the Cougar Pass rush will actually be better this year than it was last year. While Ansah is phenominal, he only had 4.5 sacks last year. Kaufusi had that many as a back up. Before Manumaleauna was injured he was on pace for 8.5 sacks last season.

      As for Alisa, If he wasn't good I wouldn't so much as mention him.

      It is the way of human thinking. We often put more emphisis, value, or importance to things that have happened most recently.

      Fans got excited to see a running back average 4.7 ypc and have 2 long runs from scrimmage (over 30 yards) last year. Just the year before Alisa averaged 5.4 ypc and had 4 long runs with only half as many carries as Williams had.

      I'm not saying that Alisa is better than Williams, but so many dismiss him without a second thought and relegate him to a minor or blocking role (without any logical or reasonable reason for doing so) that occasionally I have to remind them that BYU has 2 quality RBs, not just one.

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    3. Running behind the same o-line last year Williams had a ypc average 0.9 greater than Alisa. Not trying to hate on Alisa, I just don't see greatness in him. Sure he can be good and contribute, but Williams should be the starter.

      I am still real curious to see what Hine can do if given a chance.

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