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2014 BYU Recruiting Class Analysis
Posted Feb 7, 2014

2014 BYU Cougars ... Head Coach: Bronco Mendenhall

BYU Cougars

2013 Record: 8-5
8/31 at Virginia L 19-16
9/7 Texas W 41-20
9/21 Utah L 20-13
9/27 Middle Tenn W 37-10
10/4 at Utah State W 31-14
10/12 Georgia Tech W 38-20
10/19 at Houston W 47-46
10/26 Boise State W 37-20
11/9 at Wisconsin L 27-17
11/16 Idaho State W 59-13
11/23 at Notre Dame L 23-13
11/30 at Nevada W 28-23
Fight Hunger Bowl
12/27 Washington L 31-16

BYU | The 2014 Recruiting Class

Team Concerns For 2014: For a team with such a strong offense and a great running game, it didn’t do much of anything to control the clock, with an average time of possession of just 27:47 a game. The Cougars struggled way too much on third downs converting just 38% of the time. With close to eight penalties and 66 yards per game, there were too many problems with key mistakes. The punting game has to be better after averaging just 34.6 yards per pop.

The 2014 Class Is Heavy On ... Defensive end. The Cougars might be strongest at linebacker with Fred Warner a good get and Tyler Cook and Isaiah Kaufusi two good options, but the defensive line got the most bodies with end Sione Takitaki and Uriah Leiataua the best of a deep lot. There weren’t any quarterbacks or running backs in the class, but JUCO transfers Nick Kurtz and Devon Blackmon should help out the receiving corps. Austin Chambers will soon be one of the team’s starting offensive tackles.

2013 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 61. That Class Was Heavy On ... Defensive backs. It's a surprisingly mediocre class, even though Bronco Mendenhall is bringing in a ton of prospects sprayed all across the positions. The defensive front has a great one in JUCO transfer defensive tackle Maataua Brown, and offensive guard Braden Kearsley is by far the star of the class with tackle ability and the strength to play inside. The defensive backfield has more than its share of bodies with Dallin Leavitt an excellent safety out of Oregon and Kai Nacua a good one out of Nevada. JUCO transfer Trenton Trammell is going to push for a starting corner job right away, while fellow JUCO pickup Samuel Lee will see time right away somewhere in the secondary.

2012 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 63. That Class Was Heavy On ... After losing former super-recruit quarterback Jake Heaps to Kansas, BYU needed to find a new quarterback for the future. While there isn’t anyone coming in with Heaps’ hype, Tanner Mangum is highly regarded and could be in the starting hunt next year when Riley Nelson is done. The linebacking corps is getting the most talent, but overall the skill players should make the class.  

Fight Hunger Bowl
Washington 31, BYU 16
Basically … The score might have been tight, but Washington had control in the first half thanks to two 11-yard touchdown runs from Bishop Sankey and a 100-yard kickoff return for a score from John Ross following a one-yard touchdown run from BYU QB Taysom Hill. It was all Huskies in the second half. UW scored ten unanswered points with Keith Price finding Austin Seferian-Jenkins for an 11-yard score in the third and Travis Coons hit a 45-yard field goal in the fourth, while the defense held the Cougars out of the end zone for the final 47 minutes. Justin Sorensen hit three field goals for BYU, all in the second quarter.

- BYU outgained Washington 473 yards to 319
- BYU QB Taysom Hill completed 25-of-48 passes for 288 yards and a pick, and he ran 29 times for 143 yards and a score.
- BYU WR Cody Hoffman caught 12 passes for 167 yards.
- Washington RB Bishop Sankey ran 21 times for 95 yards and two touchdowns and caught three passes for ten yards.
- Washington LB John Timu made 14 tackles with a sack and an interception.
- Washington CB Tre Watson made six tackles and broke up six passes.
- Washington DE Hau’oli Kikaha made nine tackles with three sacks and a forced fumble.
- Washington QB Keith Price completed 16-of-21 passes for 112 yards and a touchdown with a pick.
- Washington KR John Ross returned two kicks for 120 yards and a touchdown.

BYU 28, at Nevada 23
Basically … Shut out in the first half, BYU roared back as Jamaal Williams ran for a 66-yard score and Taysom Hill threw two touchdown passes and ran for a 35-yard score as the team fought through a slew of mistakes to get past a tough Nevada team. The Wolf Pack started out the scoring with a two-yard Kendall Brock touchdown run, and Cody Fajardo ran for a three-yard touchdown and threw a four-yard scoring play to Brandon Wimberly, but the Cougars held on late.
- BYU committed 14 penalties for 142 yards, and Nevada committed four penalties for 25 yards.
- Nevada QB Cody Fajardo completed 23-of-33 passes for 259 yards and a score with a pick.
- BYU RB Jamaal Williams ran 15 times for 219 yards and a score.
- BYU QB Taysom Hill completed 14-of-18 passes for 98 yards and two touchdowns, and he ran 26 times for 154 yards and a score.

at Notre Dame 23, BYU 13
Basically … In the snow and wind, Tommy Rees fought through the elements with a 61-yard touchdown pass to DaVaris Daniels and engineering scoring drives finished off by three Kyle Brindza field goals. Tarean Folston gave the Irish a 14-7 lead on a two-yard run, and BYU never tied it again. JD Falslev scored on a seven-yard touchdown catch, but the Cougar offense could only manage two Justin Sorensen field goals the rest of the way.
- Notre Dame QB Tommy Rees completed 15-of-28 passes for 235 yards and a score with a pick.
- BYU QB Taysom Hill completed 21-of-36 passes for 168 yards and a score with a pick, and ran 24 times for 101 yards.
- BYU RB Paul Lasike ran four times for 101 yards, but Jamaal Williams was held to 43 yards on 18 carries.
- Notre Dame RB Cam McDaniel ran 24 times for 117 yards.

at BYU 59, Idaho State 13
Basically … BYU rolled up 578 yards of total offense with 421 on the ground to overcome three interceptions thrown by Taysom Hill. Jamaal Williams scored on touchdown runs from two, 70 and 15 yards out, and Hill threw two touchdowns passes on the way to a 49-3 halftime lead. The Cougars opened up the second half hot with a 65-yard touchdown run from Adam Hine and coasted the rest of the way.
- BYU RB Adam Hine ran ten times for 141 yards and a touchdown and Jamaal Williams ran 13 times for 131 yards and three scores.
- BYU QB Taysom Hill ran six times for 62 yards and completed 11-of-19 passes for 153 yards and two touchdowns with three picks.
- Each team turned it over three times. BYU committed eight penalties, Idaho State two.

at Wisconsin 27, BYU 17
Basically … Wisconsin took control from the start with a long drive leading to a four-yard James White touchdown run and with two Jack Russell field goals and a five-yard scoring pass to White making it 20-3 in the third quarter. Cody Hoffman caught touchdown passes from 34 yards out and five yards away for the Cougars, but a 14-yard White run in the fourth put the game out of reach.
- Wisconsin RB James White ran 23 times for 147 yards and two scores, and caught six passes for 47 yards and a touchdown. Melvin Gordon ran 19 times for 86 yards.
- BYU QB Taysom Hill was bottled up. He completed just 19-of-41 passes for 207 yards and two scores with a pick, and ran for 53 yards on 17 carries. Cody Hoffman caught seven passes for 113 yards and two scores.
- Wisconsin LB Chris Borland made 13 tackles with two sacks and 2.5 tackles for loss. FS Michael Caputo came up with 12 stops.
- BYU LB Uani ‘Unga came up with a game-leading 15 tackles. Kyle Van Noy made eight tackles with a pick and two tackles for loss.

at BYU 37 … Boise State 20
Basically … BYU took a 24-3 lead in the first half on two Taysom Hill touchdown passes along with a 20-yard scoring run. And he added a 40-yard touchdown pass to Mitch Mathews to get comfortably ahead 31-6 in the third. Boise State didn’t quit in the second half with Grant Hedrick running for a five-yard score and finding Troy Ware for a 14-yard score in the fourth, but two of Justin Sorensen’s three field goals came in the second half to stay comfortably ahead.
- Boise State tried to keep Taysom Hill for running wild – even though he ran for 69 yards and a score on 18 carries – so he threw it, finding nine different receivers for 339 yards and three touchdowns. And now there’s hope still on the table to go on to finish 10-2, but the season is already figured out after accepting a bid to the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. As long as Hill and Jamaal Williams keep on running – Williams ran for 107 yards – the passing game will be wide open and Hill will keep taking advantage of the opportunities. The Cougars didn’t turn the ball over, and the defense came up with four takeaways – and the offense took advantage.
- This isn’t the normal Boise State run defense. It didn’t get into the backfield enough to stop the Cougar running game before it could get started, and the offense couldn’t pick up the slack outside of Jay Ajayi’s 151 rushing yards. With QB Joe Southwick out, most likely for the year, Grant Hedrick spread the ball around well and worked with Shane Williams-Rhodes, hooking up ten times for 95 yards, but the offense couldn’t overcome four turnovers.

BYU 47, at Houston 46
Basically … In a wild shootout, Taysom Hill threw his fourth touchdown pass of the game with just over a minute to play finding Skyler Ridley from 11 yards out. Hill also ran for 128 yards, but it was Jamaal Williams closed the deal on early drives with two rushing scores. Houston took advantage of three turnovers with Derrick Matthews returning an interception 29 yards for a touchdown, and the special teams got into the act with a kickoff return for a score from Demarcus Lawrence in an explosive first quarter. Xavier Maxwell caught a 69-yard touchdown pass from John O’Korn, but Hill’s second touchdown pass to Ross Apo gave BYU a 24-21 lead going into the second. Up 38-34 going into the second half, the Houston offense stalled until a ten-yard Deontay Greenberry touchdown catch put BYU down 46-41 before the final, game-winning drive.
- With 681 yards of total offense, 41 first downs and enough big drives to answer every challenge, BYU got the job done at home against a dangerous, unbeaten team. Taysom Hill might have made several mistakes, and he might have given up a big pick six, but he was also unstoppable with 417 passing yards and 128 rushing yards on 34 carries. He handled the workload, but he was beaten on.
- The Cougars were outplayed, but they made it fun. Derrick Matthews did his part with a few sacks in the second half to help make up for the stalled offense – coming up with a safety for a six point lead – to go along with his interception return for a score, and the Demarcus Ayers kickoff return for a score sparked the team, but the defense couldn’t come up with anything to stop Hill from keeping the BYU offense moving. The linebackers whiffed way too often.
- The unbeaten season is over, but the loss wasn’t in conference play. A win over Rutgers would make this loss meaningless, but to have any chance in big games coming up, including road games at UCF and Louisville, the penalties and mistakes have to stop, committing ten sins and giving it away three times. A little more of a running game – finally – would be nice, too.
- With three turnovers – all from Hill, and 14 penalties, BYU kept Houston alive with mistakes. The defense gave up big pass plays time and again, but Hill and the offense made up for it by controlling the game on the ground. Houston didn’t have an answer when Hill took off.

at BYU 38, Georgia Tech 20
Basically … Taysom Hill hit Cody Hoffman for a 45-yard touchdown early on, and the Cougars never trailed from there with Jamaal Williams adding a two-yard touchdown run and Algernon Brown scoring from 15 yards out to go along with a one-yard Hill score and a pick six from Alani Fua for a 38-13 lead. Georgia Tech tied it at seven on a two-yard run from Vad Lee, but it could only managed two Harrison Butker field goals and didn’t get back into the end zone until the game was well out of reach.
- BYU was smart, disciplined and consistent defensively with Blake Morgan and Austin Jorgensen each making 11 tackles and Uani’ Unga coming up with ten stops as the Georgia Tech offense couldn’t get off the ground. Kyle Van Noy was his normal disruptive self with six stops and two sacks, pressuring the backfield throughout the game.
- The Georgia Tech rushing offense has lost its mojo over the last few weeks, mostly because Vad Lee isn’t hitting on his big pass plays. He only connected on 7-of-20 throws for 133 yards with a pick, and while he ran for 41 yards and a score, he was dropped behind the line way too often.
- Taysom Hill was fantastic, completing 19-of-27 passes for 244 yards and a score, and he ran for 65 yards and a touchdown. Georgia Tech applied a little bit of pressure – he was sacked just enough to give the offense a few problems – but he produced when needed. He wasn’t great on third downs, but the defense picked up the slack when needed.
- The Yellow Jackets held on to the ball for close to 37 minutes, but the ten penalties and two turnovers didn’t help the offensive woes. Now on a three game losing streak, the team needs a blowout win over Syracuse or Virginia just to know it can. This looks like an offense in need of a confidence boost.

BYU 31, at Utah State 14
Basically … Taysom Hill threw three touchdown passes to Mitch Mathews and Kyle Van Noy returned Chuckie Keeton’s first pass for a touchdown as BYU came up with a shocking blowout. Before leaving with a knee injury, Keeton threw a seven-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter. Down 31-7, the Aggies got back on the board in the final moments on an eight-yard Ronald Butler touchdown catch from Craig Harrison.
- The BYU defense stepped its game up several notches, keeping Chuckie Keeton to a disastrous 4-of-10, 26-yard, one score, one interception for a score day before he got hurt. Uani Unga came up with 16 stops in the middle of the D, while the secondary busted up pass after pass.
- Even though he was under constant pressure, Taysom Hill was fantastic. He was sacked a few times, and Utah State was seemingly always in the backfield, but he still completed 17-of-31 passes for 278 yards and three scores with a pick. It helped that Mitch Mathews had the game of his life, catching five passes for 112 yards and two scores.
- The Aggie running game wasn’t too bad, but it had to abandon ship in a hurry after the game started spiraling out of control. The quarterbacks combined to hit 22-of-51 passes for 211 yards and two scores with a devastating interception.
- Jamaal Williams didn’t have to carry much of the workload. Algernon Brown ran 16 times for 47 yards, but the banged up Williams led the Cougars with 79 yards on 14 carries, highlighted by a nice 44-yard dash.

at BYU 37 … Middle Tennessee 10
Basically … The BYU running game rolled up 309 yards, but the defense and special teams got in the act, too. Middle Tennessee took a 10-7 lead into the second quarter on a 16-yard touchdown catch from Marcus Henry, and then it was all Cougars the rest of the way scoring 30 unanswered points highlighted by a 50-yard Taysom Hill scoring dash. Hill ran for two scores and Michael Alisa ran for two short touchdowns, while Kyle Van Noy kicked off the scoring run with a tackle for a safety, and JD Falslev ended it with a 71-yard punt return.
- The BYU running game was more than fine without Jamaal Williams. Taysom Hill picked up the slack with 165 yards and two scores on 18 carries, and Michael Alisa and Algernon Brown did their past with 68 and 55 yards, respective. However …
- The Cougars couldn’t stop giving the ball away. Hill had a nice day, completing 14-of-19 passes for 177 yards, but he threw a pick. Middle Tennessee stayed alive with four BYU fumbles and nine penalties.
- There was absolutely no explosion to the Middle Tennessee attack, and it couldn’t capitalize on all the big breaks. The team’s longest run was just 11 yards, and the longest pass play was a mere 17 yards.
- Blue Raider linebacker T.T. Barber isn’t all that big, and he had to looked at Taysom Hill’s back a bit too much, but he did what he could making 15 tackles with a sack – the team’s only sack – with a forced fumble and two tackles for loss.


Utah 20, at BYU 13
Basically … Utah won the Holy War with Travis Wilson throwing two short touchdown passes and Andy Phillips kicked two first half field goals. BYU’s offense struggled and sputtered all game long, coming up with just two third quarter Justin Sorensen field goals before Michael Alisa found his way into the end zone on a one-yard run late, but it wasn’t enough. A last gasp Cougar drive failed on a few late bombs.
- Under pressure for most of the game, BYU QB Taysom Hill had a lousy day. Utah generated five sacks, with Jacoby Hale coming up with two, and Hill just never looked comfortable completing 18-of-48 passes for 260 yards and a pick. He ran for 99 yards on 20 carries, but he couldn’t carry the attack.
- Cougar RB Jamaal Williams ran for 52 yards on 13 carries before leaving the game. None of the other running back options picked up the slack.
- Travis Wilson was steady. He might not have been spectacular, but he kept his cool under the pressure in a hostile environment completing 24-of-35 passes for 273 yards and two scores.
- Utah did a strong job of neutralizing Kyle Van Noy. The BYU All-American made eight tackles with a tackle for loss, but he didn’t come up with a sack and he disappeared for stretches.

at BYU 41, Texas 20, Sept. 7
Basically … BYU ran for 550 yards with quarterback Taysom Hill tearing off big run after big run on scoring dashes from 68, 20 and 26 yards away. Texas tried to keep up early, helped by a 57-yard Mike Davis touchdown catch, but the defense couldn’t stop the Cougar offense. Davis added a 23-yard touchdown catch in the third, but the Cougars pulled away on two of Justin Sorensen’s four field goals.
- The Longhorns didn’t tackle, didn’t take proper pursuit angles, and always seemed two steps out of position. Linebacker Jordan Hicks made 15 tackles, and end Jackson Jeffcoat came up with seven stops, but there was almost no pressure into the backfield and few stops at the point of attack.
- Kyle Van Noy was Kyle Van Noy, making eight tackles with a sack, while Alani Fua came up with seven tackles and two sacks. The Texas running backs didn’t have any room to move.
- David Ash wasn’t horrible, completing 19-of-34 passes for 251 yards and two scores, but he couldn’t keep up the pace with Hill and the BYU offense. It was as if the Texas offense blinked and got down 20.
- How much does BYU want the Virginia game back? It’s all about consistency going forward. Hill didn’t throw all that well, but the running game was stellar for the second straight week. Jamaal Williams suffered a slight back injury, but he ran 30 times for 182 yards.

at Virginia 19, BYU 16, Aug. 31
Basically … Set up by an Anthony Harris interception, Kevin Parks ran for a 13-yard touchdown with just over two minutes to play to give Virginia the lead in a tough game. BYU got a touchdown pass and scoring run from Taysom Hill, but Virginia was able to keep it close with timely defense and an 11-yard Darius Jennings touchdown catch.
- The game never had any flow. It was delayed in the first half after a thunderstorm put everyone in the locker room.
- Anthony Harris had a huge day for the Cavaliers, making 11 tackles with the key pick and a blocked punt. DE Eli Harold was terrific getting into the backfield finishing with 11 tackles with two sacks, a forced fumble and 3.5 sacks. He was expected to come into this season with a little more oomph, and he showed it.
- BYU QB Taysom Hill took too many sacks, couldn’t get loose for the running game, and threw a pick, but there’s still something exciting about him. BYU, though, won’t go anywhere if he’s completing 13-of-40 passes for 175 yards.
- Lost in the late problems for the Cougars was a fantastic day from Jamaal Williams, who ran 33 times for 144 yards. He picked up the slack for a rocky day from Hill.

Spring Analysis

Why To Be Excited Last year the defense controlled the season, and this year it might be the offense. The attack wasn’t too bad, but it was painfully inconsistent and struggled mightily against any defense with a pulse. However, this time around, with eight returning starters including receivers Cody Hoffman, JD Falsev and Ross Apo, who should make life far easier for whoever works under center. The defense isn’t going to fall off the map with a good core returning including linebacker Kyle Van Noy, who might be on almost everyone’s list of preseason All-Americans. Four starters are back in the secondary.

Why To Be Grouchy All three starters on the defensive front are gone including high-rising, freak of nature end Ezekiel Ansah, who started to put it all together last year on the end along with big Romney Fuga on the nose and Russell Tialavea on the other side. Also gone is top tackler Brandon Ogletree, who didn’t get the pub of Van Noy because he wasn’t as spectacular, but was every big as effective. The two best players on the offensive line, center Braden Hansen and tackle Braden Brown, are done.

What Needs Working On Improving the quarterback situation. And the starting quarterback will be … ? This was supposed to be when super-recruit Jake Heaps was going to hit his stride, but instead he’s looking to be Charlie Weis’s starting quarterback at Kansas. Between Riley Nelson and James Lark, the situation was never really settled throughout last season, and now both of them are gone. With a new set of offensive assistant coaches looking to come up with steady production right away this spring, it’s looking more and more like it’s going to be part-time starter Taysom Hill, who looked like the next big thing – adding a rushing element to the equation - before suffering a knee injury. Meanwhile, Jason Munns is also in the mix and he’ll get every chance to grab the job by the horns.

Team Concerns For 2013: The Cougars have to do a better job in pass protection. The line wasn't miserable, but it was mediocre for the ground game and it got the quarterbacks popped way too often. Three starters are back up front, but star tackle Braden Brown and center Braden Hansen are gone. The defense has to replace all three starters up front from a superior run D that finished second in the nation. The quarterback situation will be under the microscope needing Taysom Hill to get back from a knee injury.

The 2013 Class Is Heavy On ... Defensive backs. It's a surprisingly mediocre class, even though Bronco Mendenhall is bringing in a ton of prospects sprayed all across the positions. The defensive front has a great one in JUCO transfer defensive tackle Maataua Brown, and offensive guard Braden Kearsley is by far the star of the class with tackle ability and the strength to play inside. The defensive backfield has more than its share of bodies with Dallin Leavitt an excellent safety out of Oregon and Kai Nacua a good one out of Nevada. JUCO transfer Trenton Trammell is going to push for a starting corner job right away, while fellow JUCO pickup Samuel Lee will see time right away somewhere in the secondary.

2012 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 63. That Class Was Heavy On ... After losing former super-recruit quarterback Jake Heaps to Kansas, BYU needed to find a new quarterback for the future. While there isn’t anyone coming in with Heaps’ hype, Tanner Mangum is highly regarded and could be in the starting hunt next year when Riley Nelson is done. The linebacking corps is getting the most talent, but overall the skill players should make the class. 

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