BYU might be relevant because of Zack Wilson right now but I promised I had this one planned. BYU is searching for their third straight 10 win season. This is a feat they have not accomplished since they won at least 10 games in four straight seasons from 2006 to 2009. The seniors from 2009 are probably still too young for Wilson. BYU’s recent success under Kalani Sitake helped BYU restore their reputation in football. The Cougars will be transitioning to the Big 12 in 2023 and will have a goal of winning the conference championship in their first season. BYU is the subject of today’s 99 Things.
Many experts believed BYU would take a step back in 2021 after losing most of their offensive and defensive production. Zach Wilson, the number two pick in the NFL draft, was one of five players selected in the draft following the 2020 season. The Cougars will return 18 of 22 starters after winning 10 games last season. The signal caller for the Cougars is Jaren Hall. Hall played in 10 games for BYU totaling 2,583 passing yards, 20 touchdowns and five interceptions. He also rushed for 307 yards and three touchdowns. Hall has been targeted as a player who could have a similar rise up draft stocks to Wilson. The BYU offense finished 29th in points per game last season. The Cougars will likely finish in the top 20 next year due to returning experience and a veteran at quarterback.
One of the biggest questions for BYU is running back. Tyler Allgeier was a workhorse for the Cougars but now he plays for the Atlanta Falcons. Allgeier rushed for 1,601 yards and 23 touchdowns last year. Sitake went into the transfer portal and was able to obtain a commitment from former Cal running back Christopher Brooks. Brooks was the leading rusher for the Golden Bears last year. He finished the season with 607 yards and four touchdowns. He finished the season with only 116 rushing attempts splitting carries with two other running backs. Brooks should be the lead running back in the Cougars offense allowing him to register more than 200 carries this fall.
The Cougars struggled on defense at times last year. The defense struggled to stop the run at times which is the primary reason for the loss to Baylor. The Bears ran for 303 yards on the BYU defense. The defensive line also struggled to get pressure on the opposing quarterbacks. BYU finished 109th in sacks per game with 1.54 sacks per game. Tyler Batty led the team in sacks with just 3.5. The defensive line will need to contain the run and pressure the quarterback more often in order for the defense to take a step forward. The secondary should be strong as Malik Moore returns at safety. Moore intercepted three passes last fall and will remain a threat in the passing attack.
The BYU schedule features a few substantial challenges this year. The Cougars will host Baylor and Arkansas who are expected to be challengers in their respective conferences. They also travel to face Stanford, Liberty, Boise State and Oregon. BYU will play Notre Dame in Las Vegas on October 8th as well. The remaining schedule includes games against USF, Utah State, Wyoming, ECU and Utah Tech. BYU will be looking to reach double digit wins again this year but will need to earn it and possibly upset a few teams. The Cougars have the returning experience and talent to reach 10 wins but can Sitake get them there?