Mitch Harper of Athlon Sports looked at 10 statistics you need to know for the 2017 BYU football season.
The first number he looked at was 1,978, which is the combined rushing yards by Taysom Hill and Jamaal Williams last season.
"One of the biggest questions for BYU in 2017 is how can the Cougars replace the production on the ground from running back Jamaal Williams and quarterback Taysom Hill?" wrote Harper. "Williams ended his BYU career as the school’s all-time leading rusher, and Hill is one of the most dynamic athletes to ever come through Provo."
Harper then looked at the possible replacements in the running game, saying, "BYU will turn to running backs Squally Canada, Ula Tolutau, and walk-on KJ Hall to shoulder the load early on. But it’s hard to imagine BYU gets anywhere close to the production Williams and Hill produced on the ground a year ago."
Another stat that stood out among the 10 he list was the 94.55 percent red zone conversation rate.
"BYU was excellent in the red zone last season, scoring on nearly 95 percent of its appearances inside the opponent’s 20," explained Harper. "That was the fourth-best efficiency rate in the nation, behind only Florida State, Western Michigan and Washington."
He then looked at turnover margin, scoring margin in the fourth quarter and the passing yards from Tanner Mangum in 2015 before looking at the 80 starts from the returning members of the offensive line.
"BYU’s offensive line in 2017 is one of the best out west," wrote Harper. "The Cougars are led by center Tejan Koroma, who has been a starter since he was a true freshman in 2014. Left tackle Thomas Shoaf emerged last year as a force up front, and guards Keyan Norman and Tuni Kanuch bring a load of experience."
Falk, Hansen, Gustin, Lotulelei rank among best players in college football
Matt Brown of Sports on Earth ranked the top 130 college football players for 2017 and Luke Falk, Chase Hansen, Porter Gustin and Lowell Lotulelei all made the list.
Brown had Falk highest on the list at No. 54, saying, "With 10,888 career passing yards already, Falk has a chance to join Graham Harrell in the 15,000-yard club among Mike Leach quarterbacks. (Case Keenum, Timmy Chang, Landry Jones and Ty Detmer are also in it.) Falk has completed 68.8 percent of his passes in his career, and he's led Wazzu to its best two seasons since the run of three straight top 10s from 2001-03."
Gustin was the next players with Utah ties on the list, coming in at No. 79.
"A valuable edge rusher, the 260-pound Gustin is a hybrid end/linebacker who led the Trojans with 13 tackles for loss and was second on the team with 68 tackles," wrote Brown. "He's the type of player who coordinator Clancy Pendergast can creatively use to attack and disrupt opposing backfields in a variety of ways."
Utah safety Chase Hansen was up next at No. 80.
Speaking of Hansen's production a year ago, Brown wrote, "The Utes were loaded at safety last year with Hansen teaming up with Marcus Williams. They lose Williams but return Hansen, a 220-pound former quarterback who's built like -- and can play like -- a linebacker. Hansen had 90 tackles and three picks last year and is the only returning starter in the Utes' secondary."
Brown explained the kind of role that Lotulelei plays — while ranking him at No. 87 — saying, "Lotulelei is not going to be the type of player who puts up huge stats. His job has been to help plug the middle and make those around him look better. The Utes always have a disruptive pass rush, and the physicality of Lotulelei makes it a lot easier to have success off the edge."
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Utah defensive coordinator, Morgan Scalley took to Twitter on Thursday flashing the U at the exit sign for Ute, which created a very entertaining thread, including a response from Utah legend, Eric Weddle.