Commentary: BYU football's way-too-early position-by-position breakdown

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 11 2014 3:15 p.m. MST

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Taysom Hill is BYU's undisputed starter headed into spring not only because he started all of last season. He's also starting because nobody else on the roster can.

The good news is that Hill is poised to build on his sophomore season. No one can dispute his ability to blow past defenses and rack up a lot of yards. His 1,344 yards and 10 touchdowns rushing give ample testimony of that.

Yes, Hill's arm still needs some work. However, he made steady improvement as the season progressed. After he threw just one touchdown pass in his first four games, he finished with 19 by season's end. It's doubtful he'll ever break any passing records at BYU, but with a bit more seasoning and work he can certainly become the quarterback the Cougars need to win double-digit games.

The biggest concern for the Cougars is what happens if Hill goes down for any reason this upcoming season. With Ammon Olsen gone to SUU, his potential backups are Christian Stewart and Billy Green. Both players have extremely limited experience actually running the offense. Throwing either quarterback into Robert Anae's "go fast, go hard" offense could be disastrous if something sidelines Hill.

In short, the Cougars need Hill to stay healthy. That will likely affect how the coaching staff uses him in 2014.

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Jmoney34
Sandy, UT

Just noticed in the linebacker section that is says Preston Hadley when it should be Spencer Hadley.

idablu
Idaho Falls, ID

I am disappointed BYU did nothing to improve the O-line in this years recruiting. The tackles are just not quick-footed enough and get owned by just about every DE on decent teams. Did BYU try to get Barton from Brighton? I think he was a huge acquisition for the Utes.

I was a little disappointed in Kaufusi's performance last year. Moving him to OLB is NOT a good idea. Not fast enough. Especially when BYU just signed some really promising recruits at that position.

It seems BYU recruits well with linebackers but really struggles for quality D-backs. Just think what BYU could do with a couple speedy lock down corners who could reliably cover man-to-man. That is position Utah recruits very well, and that is the biggest reason for their success against BYU, IMO.

CougFaninTX
Frisco, TX

I think Lafe's analysis is fairly accurate.

I'm most confident with the following positions - RB, WR, DB (we will not have the injuries we did in 2013).

I'm most concerned about punter, OLine and DLine. I don't understand the decision to move Kaufusi from DLine to LB.

I'm most nervous about QB. I'll take Hill over 90% of college QBs, but I think there's a big drop off from Hill to whoever backs him up with Ammon gone. Stay healthy, my friend!

RockOn
Spanish Fork, UT

BYU did try hard for Jackson Barton, but his parents are Utes. And since offered as a sophomore he's been solidly a Ute commit.

The O-line will be better. Can't get worse. Please. But some of the D-line like Tuni Kanuch are slated for the O-line and some very good linemen returned off missions. Wesley, Kearsly and Matthews should be better this year and were fairly good last year. So I have some optimism here.

To the writer... too much of this was lifted from your last "too early" piece and was retread spice with a little -- very little -- new info. Keep digging.

Thid Barker
Victor, ID

All we need to know is BYU has recruited more Polynesian athletes! Life will be even better for BYU football. Who can argue?

GJ
Greenwood, IN

Would like to the the prospects of JonRyheem Peoples on the d-line. He was an athlete that coaches were excited about last year when he came in, but haven't heard much about him positive or negative.

ABcougarfan
Barnwell, Canada, 00

What happened to the saftey that transferred from Notre Dame?? I didn't see him mentioned in the saftey position?

Alex T
Murray, UT

Jmoney 34

Spencer Hadley graduated. He's done

wly123
Keller, TX

The O-line will be fine. How many yards did Williams and Hill get on the ground? You don't do that with an ineffective O-line. Stringham played injured most of the year and finally had to have surgery before the end of the season, he will come back strong and healthy, and can play at tackle. Yeck also battled nagging injuries from the Boise State game to the end of the year, and since he only played in 2, 3 and out series against Washington in the Bowl Game, it’s not fair to say he struggles against talented completion. He will be healthy next year. Additionally, Wilcox, Yeck’s back-up gained valuable experience during the year and should be able to compete for that position this fall, if Yeck is still struggling. Tujague, inherited a group that had floundered during the previous regime, but had talent, he is an excellent coach and motivator and we should have every confidence in his ability to get the most out of his O-line this coming year.

BlueHusky
Mission Viejo, CA

I listened to the interview with Bronco on BYUtv. This recruiting class was better than before. In addition, BYU has a lot of RMs who were good recruits before. Aside from QB, this team looks improved.

The offense should be better if for no other reason, the coaches (all new last year) will have a better idea of what they have. I look for a good offense this year.

Bronco will produce a good defense, as usual. Maybe better than last year.

But this schedule looks weak. Texas, Cal, CF, and Boise look like the only teams that could beat BYU. BYU could go unbeaten this year, but still won't be ranked higher than, say 20th. Too bad we couldn't have swapped schedules from last year.

And don't talk about joining some conference. Only the Big12 would be a step up for BYU. We're independent, and independent we'll have to stay. Not so bad - better than the MWC. And national exposure is good.

Just win. That's all BYU can do.

ABcougarfan
Barnwell, Canada, 00

The safety transfer from Notre Dame was Chris Badger, any news on him??

wallyball
SALT LAKE CITY, UT

Chris Badger is the transfer from Notre Dame and should be solid at a safety.

J Poll
Gilford, NH

I think there is some very solid young talent in the pool and after a year or two that will get better if they keep landing one solid prospect each year.
I too feel the O-line will improve some just from having a year under their young, inexperienced belt. But that isn't enough to make the leap they need to really do what it needed. It will depend on how well this promising RM class performs. There are a couple good looking 2014 recruits but Freshmen aren't going to come in and dominate or make statement right away.
I am really excited about the addition of speed at WR. Kurtz isn't a super speedster but we all know he is fast, especially for his size! He will be a physical force for his size, and dangerous because of his height and relative speed. So little has been said about Michael Davis who was converted to DB last year and is back at WR. He is a speedster too. Like Blackmon, he has the 4.4 speed to stretch the field in ways BYU NEVER has with speed. That really excites me. With the solid experience of the UTEP transfer, that speed, and Kurtz height and physicality, I am eager to watch what happens if the O-line can give Hill enough time.
If the O-Line falters again, perhaps we should do some of that old timey boot-leg option that Young used to do so much. It really can throw defenses off and frustrate D-lines.
I see the defense improving, perhaps and hopefully even at DB. There is a lot of dust to settle at linebacker and D-Line still. That will determine how the year will go for the D.

J Poll
Gilford, NH

And lets not forget that Jordan Johnson, Trent Trammell and Sam Lee all will be returning after season ending injuries. I think we will be okay there.

Gorum The Older
makefu, 00

There are a lot of missing parts here. I'll try and cover a few:

1) WR. Huge reason to be excited here. Kurtz chose BYU over Oregon, USC and LSU. Blackmon is a 4 star recruit who comming out of high school made ESPNs top 100 list (BYU, or Utah for that matter, have never signed a recruit on ESPNs top 300 list since the lists inception).

The most overlooked addition is Leslie. You site his 624 yards from last season, but it is important to note that as a team, UTEP had fewer than 2000 passing yards. As a sophmore, UTEP threw for 2688 yards and Leslie had 973 yards. Get a decent QB throwing to this kid and he would have had 1000+ yards easy. That is the type of player BYU is getting in Jordan Leslie.

2) OL: A healthy Ryker Mathews and a seasoned Diondre Wesley at OT is an instant upgrade. At center, I like Edward Fusi to be very good. At guards, you have Kearsley after a year in a college weightroom and under expert tutalage, Tuni Kanuch, who I think will immediately push for a starting spot, and 2 year Starter Kafu. I think there will be a big improve ment there.

Gorum The Older
makefu, 00

DL: Lots of depth here. I think Tuiloma will beat out Marquis Johnson, but both will get decent playing time. I think Kaufusi may still be playing a fair amount of DE. Peck may have to battle for playing time at the position he started at last year. Rowley and Hinds (depending on which position he plays) could both potentially pass or at least compete with Peck. I also expect 6'3 270 Laulile to challenge for playing time. now that he is a year out of college.

LB: There is actually lots of talent here. Fua is a given, but Alisa could be very good, Kaufusi is intrigueing, at least as a situational OLB, and Troy Hinds has enough ability that he could potentially come in, take the starting position, and even make some noise.

I wouldn't be surprised if Jherremya Leuta-Douyere is moved to ILB (assuming he can play the position, It is completely different from OLB) to make room for some of that OLB talent and to increase the speed in the middle of the field. I don't think it will happen it does hive intrigueing possibilities.

Safety: Po Vey will can back up both Safety positions. Badger and Reilly give the position sufficient depth.

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