2014 BYU Preview: What You Need To Know
BYU SS Craig Bills
BYU SS Craig Bills
Posted Jun 29, 2014

Preview 2014 - What You Need To Know About BYU (Getty Images)

2014 BYU Preview

What You Need To Know

- 2014 BYU Preview 
2014 Depth Chart & Unit Rankings To Come This Summer

What You Need To Know About The Offense: Offensive coordinator Robert Anae wants to speed things up, because all offensive coordinators want to quicken up the tempo, and while time of possession has been a problem, the skill and talent is there in the backfield and on the line to come up with a devastatingly productive rushing attack. QB Taysom Hill and RB Jamaal Williams should be one of the best 1-2 tandems in the country, sure to combine for 2,500 rushing yards if they can stay in one piece, and they'll have the holes to run through with massive bodies up front. The receiving corps should be fine in time, but the top three targets are gone and needs Mitch Mathews to stay healthy and be a No. 1 target. Overall, the offense should be balanced, and the passing game should be more efficient and effective, but the bread will still be buttered with the ground attack.

What You Need To Know About The Defense: The defense should be an interesting mix that needs to be cohesive early on. There's depth across the board, size and maturity. The secondary will be the strength with three starters returning led by Craig Bills and Robertson Daniel, and the linebacking corps will be fine despite the loss of Kyle Van Noy and Uani Unga. The 3-4 has to generate more of a pass rush and has to get into the backfield more, especially with backfield camper Van Noy gone, and the line has to be better and more consistent. There's size in the middle and promise on the ends, but the run defense has to be stronger against the tougher ground games – the back eight can't make all the plays.

Players You Need To Know

1. QB Taysom Hill, Jr.
He took over in the middle of 2012 and never let the job go. The 6-2, 228-pound junior beefed up a bit over the last few years to handle more of a pounding, and he needed it after getting knocked out of his freshman season with a knee injury. Now it's all about improving his passing game, which hasn't been all that bad, hitting 54% of his throws for 2,938 yards and 19 touchdowns, but he gave up 14 picks forcing too many passes. Consistency will be his key, failing to connect on half his passes in the loss to Wisconsin and completing just 13-of-40 throws against Virginia and hitting 18-of-48 in the loss to Virginia. He'll never be a typical BYU quarterback throwing the ball, but past BYU quarterbacks couldn't run like he can, tearing off 259 yards and three scores in the win over Texas and hitting the 100-yard mark six times on the way to 1,344 yards and ten scores. No, he doesn't have to do it all alone, and he doesn't have to carry the team by himself, but he can, and occasionally, he will.

2. RB Jamaal Williams, Jr.
The Cougar running game took things to another level once Williams grabbed the job a few years ago and ran for a team-leading 775 yards and 12 scores. While he's a slippery back, he can bring a little bit of power after getting up to 200 pounds on his 6-0 frame. He's an okay and capable receiver, catching 18 passes last year, and he showed this offseason that he's turning into a tougher blocker, he's at his best when he's running through the hole with a one-cut burst, averaging 5.7 yards per carry with 1,233 yards and seven scores, highlighted by a 219-yard day against Nevada and 182 against Texas. Not built to handle a big workload, he wore down fast with 63 carries in the first two games, but he came back after missing the Middle Tennessee game and was consistently productive when he got his chances. If he can stay healthy, he should be in the mix for a 1,500-yard campaign.

3. OT Michael Yeck, Sr.
At 6-8 and 292 pounds, Yeck is a massive blocker with a great frame that's next to impossible to get around. With good enough feet to get by, he's a decent pass blocker, but he's at his best when he's able to get a shove for the running game, walling off his man well. Able to play either side of the line, he's a good left tackle but will start out the year on the right side – he'll be the one the team works behind on key plays.

4. SS Craig Bills, Sr.
One of the team's best all-around defenders, the 6-2, 209-pound veteran will work at the Kat position – BYU's strong safety – but he can play free safety if needed with nice range and a great nose for the ball. A sure tackler, he followed up a good 2012 with 78 tackles and two picks, highlighted by a 15-stop day against Notre Dame. No, he'll never blow anyone up, but he'll get to the play and he'll make the stop, and he can track the ball well and makes big plays. Expect him to be one of the team's leaders.

5. CB Robertson Daniel, Sr.
The Cougars got what they needed out of the JUCO transfer. The 6-1, 198-pound senior is a big, physical corner who came up with two picks and 66 tackles, making ten stops against Utah State. He might not be a blazer, and he's more like a free safety than a true corner, but he's a sound defender who handles himself well against the bigger receivers and gets tough against the smaller ones.

6. LB Bronson Kaufusi, Jr.
No one's asking him to be Kyle Van Noy, but he appears to be on the verge of a huge statistical season on the outside after coming up with four sacks – two against Nevada – with 39 tackles and seven tackles for loss. More like a defensive end than a weakside linebacker, the 6-7, 263-pounder doesn't really fit the position, but he's very smart and has the burst to get into the backfield on a regular basis after being turned loose. He should be one of the team's most disruptive forces.

7. WR Mitch Mathews, Jr.
Very big and very mature, the 6-6, 206-pound junior returned from his mission to show a little bit of upside as a freshman before turning into a dangerous target last year, catching 23 passes for 397 yards – averaging over 17 yards per catch – with four touchdowns, scoring three times against Utah State, before getting knocked out for the year with a shoulder injury. He's not going to blaze past anyone, but he has a massive catching radius and the right frame to outfight defensive backs on deep balls.

8. OT De'Ondre Welsey, Sr.
The 6-7, 330-pound senior started off last season as a key backup, but he turned into a key part of the puzzle starting on the right side owning the starting job for the second half of the year. This year he'll get his first shot at left tackle, using his bulk and his toughness as a nasty blocker for the ground game. While he's not the best of athletes, he'll wear down defenders in the ground game on either side – his versatility will be one of the key to the line if and when Ryker Mathews comes back healthy.

9. OG Solomone Kafu, Sr.
At 6-2 and 315 pounds, Kafu is a short, squatty blocker who generates great leverage for the ground game as a tough option on the left side. Mature, he started out his career in 2008, left for his mission, and came back to own a spot on the offensive front after originally coming to BYU as a possible defensive lineman.

10. OT Ryker Mathews, Sr.
While he'll have to fight to get playing time back, there's a great chance he'll push De'Ondre Welsey for the starting left tackle job after missing time last year hurt. A phenomenal get for the program, the 6-6, 292-pounder has excellent ability and good movement when healthy, and when he's right, he has the ability and potential to be a force for the ground game.    

- 2014 BYU Preview