BYU Preview 2006
Posted Aug 7, 2006

In his first year as head coach, Bronco Mendenhall wanted to bring back the fire and the tradition of the old BYU teams. After three straight losing seasons under Gary Crowton, Mendenhall was successful in turning things around.

Offense | Defense | Depth Chart | Further Analysis

While most might consider the program to still be reloading after Crowton was dismissed, the expectations are always high in Provo. The fans want the old days of BYU back when the program was winning conference titles with some of the most prolific offenses in college football history, and this year's team might not disappoint with veteran quarterback John Beck, excellent running back Curtis Brown, a fantastic offensive line, and Mackey Award candidate Jonny Harline at tight end.

However, the defense full of question marks could give up points just as quickly. The line has issues with experience, the linebacking corps, while good, is nothing special, and the secondary might be a major problem until the middle of the season. All this means lots of shootouts, lots of scoring, and fun, fun, fun.

Head coach: Bronco Mendenhall
2nd year: 6-6
Returning Lettermen
Off. 18,  Def. 20, ST 2
Lettermen Lost: 23
Ten Best BYU Players
QB John Beck, Sr.
2. TE Jonny Harline, Sr.
3. OG Dallas Reynolds, Soph.
4. RB Curtis Brown, Sr.
5. LB Cameron Jensen, Sr.
6. OT Jake Kuresa, Sr.
7. TE Daniel Coats, Sr.
8. OT Eddie Keele, Sr.
9. OG Ray Feinga, Soph.
10. CB Justin Robinson, Sr.

2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction:

9/2 at Arizona
9/9 Tulsa
9/16 at Boston College
9/23 Utah State
9/28 at TCU
10/7 San Diego State
10/21 UNLV
10/28 at Air Force
11/4 at Colorado State
11/9 Wyoming
11/18 New Mexico
11/25 at Utah

2005 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 6-5
2005 Record: 6-6

Preview 2005 predicted wins

9/3 Boston College L 20-3
9/10 Eastern Illinois W 45-10
9/24 TCU L 51-50 OT
10/1 at San Diego St L 31-10
10/8 at New Mexico W 27-24
10/15 Colorado State W 24-14
10/22 at Notre Dame L 49-23
10/29 Air Force W 62-41
11/5 at UNLV W 55-14
11/12 at Wyoming W 35-21
11/19 Utah L 41-34 OT
12/22 Las Vegas Bowl
California L 35-28

Welcome back to the days of the 45-41 shootouts. Welcome back to the days when BYU was relevant. And welcome back to the days when BYU's offense made opposing teams tremble. Sort of.

At one time, BYU was one of the most innovative programs in college football. It's offenses were able to move the ball at will with a high-octane passing attack that cranked out yards and points on everyone. Now the Cougars are followers continuing to employ a sort of spread formation, but it's the good, old-fashioned BYU passing game that will get everyone humming.

Thanks to Beck, who's in the hunt to finish as BYU's number two passer of all-time behind Ty Detmer, a 4,000-yard season is possible with at least 30 touchdowns as long as the wide receivers come through with a big season. Throw into the mix Brown, who should be a 1,000-yard runner, and BYU will put up pinball numbers. If the defense can just hold serve and make a couple of plays here and there, this could be a big bounce-back season.

If nothing else, the Cougar fan base is excited about the direction of its program. Mendenhall says and does all the right things, but winning is all that matters. This year's team might struggle here and there, but it'll show that BYU football is close to being back.

The Schedule: It shapes up well for Mountain West play with four non-conference games to use as tune-ups, helped most by a light scrimmage against Utah State, before the conference-opening showdown at TCU. If the Cougars can somehow get out of Fort Worth with a win, it's smooth sailing with home games against San Diego State and UNLV followed up by a road trip at Air Force. In other words, a win over TCU will likely mean an unbeaten conference record going into November with the road trip to Utah looming. The non-conference slate is tougher than it looks with road trips to Arizona and Boston College and a home date with Conference USA champion Tulsa.

Best Offensive Player: Senior QB John Beck. Other Mountain West quarterbacks will put up big numbers, but Beck has the experience, the offense, and the talent to put up the best numbers in the league. If BYU wins the league title, Beck will probably be the Mountain West player of the year.

Best Defensive Player: Senior LB Cameron Jensen. With 187 tackles over the last two years, Jensen has grown into the unquestioned leader of the defense and a legitimate All-America candidate. With the defense a big question mark, he'll have to be a steadying force from the start.

Key player to a successful season: Senior NT Hala Paongo. The defense needs to be better in all phases, but making sure things are solid on the inside will be a good starter. Cameron Jensen and Markell Staffieri will be good inside linebackers, so the more Paongo can be an anchor up front and let the linebackers roam free, the better.

The season will be a success if ... the Cougars come in second in the Mountain West. This is a relatively lofty goal considering the defense is mediocre at best and with road trips to TCU and Utah. The offense will simply outbomb everyone else.

Key game: Sept. 28 at TCU. Last year's 51-50 overtime loss to the Horned Frogs was a classic. If the Cougars can win the nationally televised Mountain West opener in Fort Worth, they'll be in a perfect position to go on a huge run up until the regular season ender at Utah. Lose to TCU and there will be no margin for error the rest of the way.

2005 Fun Stats: 
- Penalties: BYU 100 for 870 yards - Opponents 100 for 848 yards
- Yards per catch: Opponents 12.5 - BYU 11.2
- Time of possession: BYU 32:21 - Opponents 28:54

The Last Time BYU…
…played in a bowl game…2005 (Las Vegas Bowl vs. Cal)
…missed a bowl game…2004
…pitched a shutout…1999 (UNLV)
…was shutout…2003 (Utah)
…scored 50 points…2005 (UNLV)
…went undefeated…1984
…won a conference title…2001 (Mountain West)
…had a 3,000-yard passer…2005 (John Beck)
…had a 1,000-yard rusher…2005 (Curtis Brown)
…had a 1,000-yard receiver…2004 (Todd Watkins)
…had a first-round draft choice…2000 (LB Rob Morris)

Related Stories
BYU Preview 2006 - Offense
 -by  Aug 7, 2006
BYU Preview - Further Analysis
 -by  Aug 7, 2006
BYU Preview 2006 - Depth Chart
 -by  Aug 7, 2006

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