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BYU Football Projections – Rise and Shout or Down and Out?

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The BYU Cougars had an amazing 2006 season in which they amassed an 11-2 record. One of their impressive victories came from 38-8 drubbing of Pac-10’s Oregon Ducks. They even had a 9-0 winning streak to end the season and this is the third longest in collegiate football last year

For me, they can ended the season undefeated, because their two losses was a thriller - both late-game nail biters, one is an OT loss to Boston College Eagles in which they botched some field goal attempts. The BYU football program did a nice job last year.

Can the Cougars keep up the momentum they established last year going into the 2007? Here are my thoughts:

The success the team enjoyed can be attributed to handful of players - John Beck, Curtis Brown and Johnny Harline as well as pretty much every one in the linebacker group. John Beck has been in discussion with Troy Smith, Brady Quinn and Jamarcus Russell. The linebacking core had a superb season giving the Cougar one of the best defenses in years.

About their offense

The Cougars will have some quarterback problems because none of the players vying for the position have any noteworthy game experience as Beck had. Their receivers are usually pretty solid, but their young lineup will have a hard time duplicating the success of the 2006 team. The Cougars can turn to the back field as Fui Vakapuna and Manase Tonga will provide some excellent running and blocking.

About their defense

It is possible that their defense can be shaky simply because of their lineup. It will be filled with either freshmen or sophomores. Nevertheless, Kehl, Nixon and Poppinga are all returning following a great 2006 season. Losing team captain Cameron Jensen can hurt them. They will surely miss his leadership and never-say-die attitude. Nonetheless, it is noteworthy to mention their linebackers. I do not fret at all with their group, but their secondary is something to worry about. I have noticed that Cougars start a bunch of small, mediocre defensive backs and this year will be no different. Even though most of the players in the starting secondary are returning (such as Gooch, Gabriel, Criddle, Buchannan), I worried about the way they will perform when lining up across from players with great athleticism. They can hold their own against some MWC opponents, but it will be difficult. It will boil down again to the capabilities of the linebackers.

My opinions seem like a grim picture for the upcoming season for Cougars. However, hope is not lost as Gary Crowton and Bronco Mendenhall are both determined to restore the tradition and pride to Cougar football. I hope they continued their stellar performance last year and carry it over to this season. Also, Robert Anae will be leading the team with Beck spraying the ball around; they may even surpass their performance last season.

To sum this up, BYU Cougars is entering the transition of players and thus, some of them are inexperienced. But the coaching staff plus their winning and tradition can propel them into yet another winning season.

Nishan Wilde is VPÂ of sales at Robbins Sports and Athletics and staunch BYU Cougar football fan.