Preview 2009 - Offense
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2009 BYU Offense
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2008 BYU Depth
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What you need to know:
Only four starters are returning, with four starters gone off
the line and the receivers, including star Austin Collie, have
to be replaced, but the attack should be explosive once again
with QB Max Hall appearing to be ready for a special season. He
makes everyone around him better, and the receiving corps should
step up and shine with O'Neill Chambers and McKay Jacobson good
ones to get excited about. Tight end Dennis Pitta is a special
pass-catching tight end, while Andrew George is hardly a No. 2
with great hands and nice route-running ability. Two-time,
1,000-yard rusher Harvey Unga will handle the ground game
working behind a massive, line that should be strong with a
little bit of time. Matt Reynolds is one of the nation's best
left tackles and should keep Hall clean.
Passing: Max Hall
330-477, 3,957 yds, 35 TD, 14 INT
Rushing: Harvey Unga
240 carries, 1,132 yds, 11 TD
Receiving: Dennis Pitta
83 catches, 1,083 yds, 6 TD
Star of the offense:
Senior QB Max Hall
Player who has to step up and become a star: Sophomore WR
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore OG Terrence Brown
Best pro prospect: Sophomore OT Matt Reynolds
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Hall, 2) TE Dennis
Pitta, 3) Reynolds
Strength of the offense: Tight End, Passing Game
Weakness of the offense: Wide Receiver Experience, Four
New Line Starters
Senior Max Hall has been
good, he has put up big numbers, and he has been a fringe
All-America candidate after throwing for 7,805 yards and 61
touchdowns with 26 interceptions and five rushing scores since
coming over from Arizona State. He completed 69% of his passes
for 3,957 yards and 35 touchdowns with 14 picks last season,
with four rushing scores, but for all the big statistics and all
the big performances, the 6-1, 201-pounder has to show once
again that he can win the big game. He came through in the
clutch against Utah two years ago, pulling a clunker of a game
out of the fire, but he melted down against the Utes last year
throwing five interceptions, and he couldn't handle the pass
rush against TCU and struggled. The mediocre performance in the
Las Vegas Bowl loss to Arizona didn't help (even though he threw
for 328 yards). If he's on and if he can lead the team to a
conference title, he'll be the front-runner for the Mountain
West Player of the Year honor.
Projected Top Reserves: 6-4, 213-pound senior
Brenden Gaskins is a big, strong passer with good mobility,
but he only saw a little time last year completing 7-of-12
passes for 73 yards, and he'll only see time in blowouts or if
something happens to Hall. It's been a long career already as he
initially wanted to go to BYU, but went to Nevada after former
UCLA Bruin, Ben Olson, had committed to the Cougars. He went the
JUCO route to get back to Provo, with a two-year stop in Uruguay
for a church mission along the way. While he has the tools, he's
clearly a backup.
Sophomore Riley Nelson got plenty of work as a
freshman at Utah State throwing for 925 yards and six scores,
and rushing for 290 more, but he decided to transfer, went on an
LDS mission to Spain, and now comes into Provo with a shot at
being the main man in the near future. He's only 6-1 and 195
pounds, but the 2005 Mr. Football in Utah is the most mobile of
the Cougar quarterbacks and has a nice prep résumé throwing for
a state record 79 touchdowns and 4,041 passing yards.
Watch Out For ... Nelson to get some meaningful
playing time. The coaching staff needs to know if he's the one
to build around for next year, or if quarterback is going to be
a major issue after Hall and Gaskins are gone.
Strength: Hall. He's going to light up mediocre defenses
like a Christmas tree. Razor sharp throughout the offseason, he
appears to be ready to put the up-and-down 2008 season behind
him and be a major star. It'll be a shock if he doesn't throw
for 4,000 yards.
Weakness: Backup experience. Nelson has a year of playing time
at Utah State, but he has been off for a few years. Gaskins has
the tools, but there's a big drop-off from Hall to the backups.
Outlook: Hall is a good player who has a ton of
experience and is in a great system. The numbers will be there
and he'll be a lock for all-star honors as long as he stays
healthy, but it'll all come down to the big games. If he's able
to light up Oklahoma in the season opener, he and BYU will be on
the national map for the rest of the year. If he has problems,
he'll be a great Mountain West player, but will be out of the
All-America discussion. The backups are fine, but they need more
Junior Harvey Unga was
tremendous as a freshman, rushing for 1,227 yards and 13
touchdowns, while catching 44 passes, and he proved it wasn't a
fluke by rushing for 1,132 yards and 11 touchdowns, while
catching 42 passes for 309 yards and four scores last year. Even
with all his production, he didn't have quite the same burst and
he wasn't the same dangerous playmaker. He ran for 100 yards or
more seven times two years ago, but he went over the century
mark just three times last year. This offseason he appeared to
be back to form and he should be in for another great all-around
season again with his 6-0, 239-pound frame able to bring the
power to go along with his quickness.
Gone if Fui Vakapuna after finishing second on the team in
rushing and doing a decent job of blocking. Sophomore
Brian Kariya isn't necessarily a fullback, but he'll be
used as one with a 6-0 and 212 pound body that's able to bring
some pop. He'll get shoved aside if Manase Tonga is back, but he
appears ready to take on a bigger role after rushing for 67
yards and a score and catching four passes for 21 yards.
Projected Top Reserves:
Tonga going to be able to come back? He was going to be
a big part of the attack as both a fullback and as a runner, but
the 6-0, 238-pounder didn't get to class and was academically
ineligible. He's trying to get back in the mix, taking courses
at Utah Valley University to get his grades up, but the team
isn't counting on him. He ran for 305 yards and caught 27 passes
for 248 yards last year.
5-9, 198-pound sophomore J.J. DiLuigi missed
all of the 2007 season with a foot injury and came back to be a
little used backup running for 48 yards and catching two passes.
He was a top recruit who could've gone almost anywhere on the
West Coast, and now he needs to do more for the offense. Willing
to do whatever is needed, he'll work behind Unga as a quick
tailback who can do a little bit of everything.
While Malosi Te'o needs time and work after
coming off a Church mission, but he should be a good part of the
rotation as a backup in both running back spots. Speedy enough
to carry the ball for stretches, and tough enough to be used as
a fullback from time to time, the 5-10, 199-pound freshman will
see plenty of work.
Watch Out For ... Kariya. The team needs a
fullback to count on if Tonga isn't back and in everyone's good
graces, and Kariya appears to be ready. He's not going to
flatten anyone, but he can block.
Strength: Unga. The Cougar offense will revolve around
Max Hall and the passing game, but Unga is a strong do-it-all
back who handles the rushing portion of the offense. He's a
1,000-yard back who can carry the attack from time to time, but
he doesn't have to be the main man every game.
Weakness: A home run hitter. This has been a problem for
the last few years. BYU averaged a paltry 3.9 yards per carry
two years ago and 4.1 yards per carry last year with the longest
run, 40 yards, coming from Unga. This is a serviceable running
game, but not a scary one.
Outlook: No pressure, but if Unga gets hurt, the
ground game goes kaput. As long as he's in the lineup, the
Cougar running game will get nice production when it needs it
and should get enough production from the other runners to get
by. This will be an effective ground game that will do what it
has to in an attempt to balance things out.
Projected Starters: Looking
to become the team's No. 1 target is McKay Jacobson,
a 5-11, 192-pound sophomore with excellent speed and decent
experience making 28 grabs for 547 yards and three touchdowns in
a breakout freshman year. That was 2006, and then he went on a
Church mission for two years before coming back to fill in a
major hole. Not able to do much this offseason with a hamstring
injury, he's expected to be fine by the start of the season, he
wasn't in bad shape at the end of spring ball. Along with being
a home run hitting receiver, he should be a key punt returner.
Sophomore O'Neill Chambers took over a starting
spot after coming up with three catches for 42 yards and a score
last year. At 6-2 and 209 pounds he's a big, physical receiver
with fly-paper for hands. He doesn't miss a catch and has the
big-play capability to stretch the field on the outside.
Senior Dennis Pitta followed up a 59-catch
season by making 83 catches for 1,083 yards and six touchdowns,
averaging 13 yards per grab. The 6-4, 248-pounder is trying to
get over a torn MCL, but he should be 100% and more than fine by
the start of the year. With great hands, tremendous route
running ability, and the talent to be a go-to target, he should
put up monster numbers as the team's top target. While he's
steady, when he's on, he's unstoppable catching 21 passes for
351 yards and a score to start the season, and he made 12 grabs
for 175 yards and two touchdowns against Colorado State. He'll
be on the All-America short list and should be among the
nation's leading receiving tight ends.
Projected Top Reserves:
Junior Luke Ashworth
will likely end up as a starter, and at the very least,
he'll be in a rotation with Jacobson at one spot if he's not a
part of three-wide sets. The 6-2, 201-pounder can work inside
and out with excellent athleticism and the toughness to go over
the middle whenever needed. He caught three passes for 49 yards
last year, but he'll help make up for the loss of Austin Collie
by catching at least 40 passes.
5-9, 188-pound junior Tyler Koslozwki, son of
former Cougar and Chicago Bear, Glen Kozlowski, made three
catches for 31 yards in a limited role and now will work behind
Chambers at one spot. While he doesn't have the ability of the
other top targets, he has great hands and should be strong on
Even though Pitta is back and healthy, senior Andrew
George will be a key part of the offense again after
catching 23 passes for 219 yards and six scores. Pitta is a big
play receiver, while George is strong on short to midrange
targets. The 6-5, 249-pounder has all-star talent, but it's hard
to shine with Pitta as the main weapon. If something happens to
Pitta, George could be a 60-catch target.
Watch Out For ... Jacobson. He's not going to be
Austin Collie, but he has the makeup and the potential to be an
all-star who makes big things happen. He'll be great whenever he
gets the ball on the move and he should end up being the team's
Strength: Tight end. There are a slew of good tight ends
throughout college football. Oklahoma's Jermaine Gresham is the
best in America, leading the pack, but Pitta's numbers will be
as impressive as anyone's. George would start and be a star for
Weakness: Austin Collie. There are plenty of good receivers who
should step up and put up nice numbers last year, but it'll be
tough to replace the 106 grabs for 1,538 yards and 15 scores
that Collie came up with. Losing Michael Reed, and his 49
catches for 589 yards and two scores, also hurts.
Outlook: Max Hall will make everyone around him
better. All he needs are a slew of good route runners, and a
dependable go to target, and he has them. Pitta will make every
big play happen when needed, while all the Cougar receivers run
precise routes and catch everything thrown their way.
The star of a rebuilding line will be
Matt Reynolds, an All-Mountain West star with the job to keep Max Hall upright. The 6-6, 320-pound sophomore
is one of the top recruits the program has ever landed, and he
showed why in his first season as a starter at left tackle.
He was the Utah High School Player of the Year in 2005 and
could've gone anywhere, and now he'll be the one the offense
works around and runs behind on key plays.
Stepping in at left guard is junior Jason Speredon,
a 6-5, 305-pounder who's versatile enough to play either guard
spot or tackle if absolutely needed. Big, athletic, and tough,
he showed this offseason that he's ready to become a major
factor after serving last year as a key backup.
Taking over in the middle is senior R.J. Willing,
a veteran who has seen extensive time over the last three years
and will be more than fine in a full-time role. At 6-5 and
310-pounds he has excellent size, and he knows exactly what he's
doing. He won't miss any line calls and he should be a rock as
the season goes on.
6-3, 351-pound sophomore Terence Brown is a
massive blocker who has the upside to be special. More athletic
than he should probably be for a player of his size, he'll hold
down the starting right guard job for the next three years, if
he doesn't move over to left guard. Very smart, he's not going
to make many mistakes.
Junior Nick Alleto is a 6-6, 318-pound junior
who worked hard to bulk up over the last few years, and now he's
ready. He suffered a knee injury this offseason and will be
pushed for the right tackle job this fall, but he's expected to
be fine and he should be fine. He's an athlete who put on extra
pounds. He should be great in pass protection.
Projected Top Reserves:
went on his two-year mission and now should
be a star on the outside ... eventually. The 6-6, 286-pound
freshman won't push Matt Reynolds out of a job, but he's one of
the team's most talented linemen and should eventually work at
one of the tackle spots. He's not a guard, but he might see time
on the inside just to get him on the field.
The top backup guard should be Jesse Taufi, a
6-4, 302-pound junior who saw time this offseason at tackle to
show off his versatility. He'll start out the year as the backup
at right guard behind Brown, but he could easily work at left
guard if needed and is listed as the top backup option at right
tackle. There isn't much of a drop-off from the projected
starters to him.
Watch Out For ...
Brown. For a player as huge as he is, it'll be hard not to want
to pound away behind him with a big back like Harvey Unga over
and over again. The talent of the line is on the left side, but
Brown is a good one who should grow into an all-star over the
next four years.
Strength: Tackles. Reynolds deserves All-America
consideration and Alleto is a good-sized pass protector who's
equally good against speed rushers and strong ones. Taufi and
Hansen could start on the outside without a problem.
Weakness: Overall experience. As good as the line should be,
it's never a plus to lose four starters and talents like Dallas
Reynolds and Ray Feinga. The line was fine this offseason, but
it might be a lot to ask for a good start to the year with
Oklahoma looming in the opener.
The line was fantastic last year (against everyone but
TCU's Jerry Hughes), allowing just 19 sacks while paving the way
for 134 rushing yards per game. The line might undergo an
overhaul with four new starters, but this is a very big group
that should be fantastic by the middle of the season. It might
not look pretty against the Sooners, but it'll turn out to be
good and should be phenomenal going into next year.