BYU Season Win Total Prediction
Bronco Mendenhall accomplished many great things during his 11 seasons in Provo. After three straight bowl losses, though, numerous BYU fans weren’t heartbroken to see him leave for Virginia.
The task of keeping the Cougars humming now falls to rookie head coach Kalani Sitake. Considering the sprawling cast of characters returning, Utah folks expect another eight- or nine-win team. But will a possible quarterback controversy prevent the program from starting fast?
Online sports book Bovada.lv projects BYU for 7.5 victories in 2016. Yet if the squad is to compete deep into December, Sitake and offensive coordinator Ty Detmer must identify the right signal-caller. Taysom Hill was the big cheese entering last August’s opener vs. Nebraska, but he suffered a dislocation of the Lisfranc joint in his foot in that 33-28 thriller and missed the rest of the fall. Freshman Tanner Mangum wasted no time electrifying LaVell Edwards Stadium, however, throwing for 3,377 yards and 23 touchdowns. It’ll likely boil down to which individual displays a better command of Detmer’s balanced, pro-style attack.
In the backfield, Jamaal Williams promises to lend a huge helping hand. The California native needs just 929 yards to break the Cougars’ career rushing record. Having reportedly added 20 pounds of muscle, Williams could morph into one of the country’s premier Doak Walker Award candidates.
Sitake wishes he had such stability at wide receiver. Mitch Mathews and Devon Blackmon graduated, meaning increased pressure on Mitchell Juergens and Nick Kurtz. The latter duo combined for 76 catches and five TDs a year ago, but who else can step up? JUCO transfer Jonah Trinnaman excites the staff, as does sophomore Moroni Laulu-Pututau. By and large, though, we’re looking at a group in flux.
Shifting to the other side, defensive conductor Ilaisa Tuiaki’s ready to move full steam ahead with a 4-3 scheme. His main horses actually come from the linebacker position. Harvey Langi, Francis Bernard and Fred Warner are agile and relentless as regards their seek-and-destroy missions. The secondary should be well-equipped to handle additional man-to-man coverage, too, with Michael Davis and Troy Warner spearheading the charge back there.
Mendenhall undoubtedly restored BYU’s on-field reputation, going 99-42 and guiding the troops to a pair of Mountain West championships along the way. Still, the adjustment to life as an independent didn’t exactly unfold in a seamless manner for the veteran leader. Sitake’s eager to accept the mantle as Provo’s fresh voice. Despite a somewhat shaky D-line and that brutal early slate (the Cougars tackle six foes from Power 5 conferences in the first eight contests), we’ll also give him our endorsement.
WEDNESDAY COLLEGE FOOTBALL FREE PICK: BYU COUGARS OVER 7.5 WINS