2009 CFN BYU Preview
BYU RB Harvey Unga
BYU RB Harvey Unga
Posted Jul 12, 2009

CollegeFootballNews.com 2009 Preview - BYU Preview

BYU Cougars

Preview 2009

By Pete Fiutak

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- 2009 CFN BYU Preview | 2009 BYU Offense
- 2008 BYU Defense | 2008 BYU Depth Chart
- 2008 BYU Preview | 2007 BYU Preview | 2006  BYU Preview

Head coach: Bronco Mendenhall
5th year: 38-13
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 18, Def. 25, ST 3
Lettermen Lost: 30
Ten Best BYU Players
1. QB Max Hall, Sr.
2. TE Dennis Pitta, Sr.
3. DE Jan Jorgensen, Sr.
4. OT Matt Reynolds, Soph.
5. RB Harvey Unga, Jr.
6. LB Matt Bauman, Sr.
7. TE Andrew George, Sr.
8. LB Coleby Clawson, Sr.
9. WR/PR O'Neill Chambers, So.
10. FS Scott Johnson, Sr.

CFN Prediction:
2009 Record: 0-0

9/5 Oklahoma (in Arl.)
9/12 at Tulane
9/19 Florida State
9/26 Colorado State
10/2 Utah State
10/10 at UNLV
10/17 at SDSU
10/24 TCU
11/7 at Wyoming
11/14 at New Mexico
11/21 Air Force
11/28 Utah

2008 Schedule
CFN Prediction:

2008 Record: 10-

8/30 Northern Iowa W 41-17
9/6 at Washington W 28-27
9/13 UCLA W 59-0
9/20 Wyoming W 44-0
10/3 at Utah State W 34-14
10/11 New Mexico W 21-3
10/16 at TCU L 32-7
10/25 UNLV W 42-35
11/1 at Colorado St W 45-42
11/8 San Diego State W 41-12
11/15 at Air Force W 38-24
11/22 at Utah L 48-24
Las Vegas Bowl
12/20 Arizona L 31-21

While Utah was off beating Alabama in the Sugar Bowl and TCU was getting by an unbeaten Boise State in the Poinsettia, BYU was stuck in Las Vegas losing to Arizona. That's not exactly what head coach Bronco Mendenhall and the program were planning on when the year started.

Give Mendenhall credit for putting it out there; he wanted his team to shoot for the stars and be perfect. There were "Quest For Perfection" T-shirts, there was open discussion of the BCS, and there were even a few scant words about arguing for a national title shot if the team was 12-0. But the team was inconsistent, everyone melted down in losses to TCU and Utah, and the program had a ten-win season that seemed way too hollow considering the expectations.

It'll be easy to use the disappointments last year as reason think that BYU will struggle to win the Mountain West title this year. After all, Utah will be good again and TCU could be the class of the lot, but there are always outside factors to consider when it comes to the Cougars. Mainly, how will Church missions affect the team?

For example, Austin Collie was a special receiver, arguably the best to ever play in Provo, but McKay Jacobson is a good one who's coming back after being off for two years. The O line might be rebuilding a bit this year, but it should be phenomenal next season if everyone comes back. The same goes for the secondary. But for this year, enough pieces are in place to come up with another double-digit win season and be the type of special team many were hoping it would've been last year.

Having a quarterback in Max Hall to make everyone better is a good start, and getting back one of the nation's best tight ends, Dennis Pitta, gives the offense a go-to target to rely on. Harvey Unga is a two-time, 1,000-yard back, The defensive front seven gets six starters back, and Mitch Payne is a reliable, veteran kicker. Considering the Cougars quickly fill in holes with older players who have either been on missions or have been given time to work in the system, the areas that should be problems, like an O line that loses four starters and a secondary that needs help at corner, really aren't that big a deal.

The key, overall, will be to tone down the pressure. When the expectations were set so high last year and it made everyone press a bit. This year the goals will still be sky-high, but considering the Cougars have to play Oklahoma in the season opener, there can't be too much hand-wringing if the season starts out on the wrong foot. It's all about winning the Mountain West title and letting the chips fall where they may. Being perfect might not be realistic, but coming close could finally get BYU into the BCS.

What to watch for on offense: The tight ends. Max Hall will will make the receivers shine, he was terrific this offseason, but it'll be the tight ends who help bail him out from time to time on key downs. Dennis Pitta is a tremendous receiver who came up with 83 catches for 1,083 yards and six touchdowns last season, while Andrew George caught 23 passes and scored six times. These two will be an even bigger part of the offense early on.

What to watch for on defense: The corner situation. There wasn't much help from a shockingly disappointing pass rush, but the corners weren't nearly as good as they needed to be. This year, the departure of Brandon Howard, who left the team for personal reasons, leaves a gaping hole that needs to be filled by either Garrett Nicholson or Steven Thomas. They each have the potential to be good, and starter Brandon Bradley will be fine, but for a team that struggled so much with efficient passers, the spotlight will be on the secondary.

The team will be far better ifthe line can generate more pressure. For the most part, the pass rush was fine. Considering Jan Jorgensen was coming off a monster sophomore season, he wasn't phenomenal, coming up with just five sacks, and the pass rush was 80th best in the nation, and it trickled down. BYU only came up with nine interceptions and efficient, effective passers were able to do what they needed to. With Sam Bradford up right away, coming up with a pass rush will be vital on day one.

The Schedule: The Cougars will now just how good they really are in the opener with a showdown against Oklahoma in the new Jerry Jones palace in Arlington. While that might be nearly impossible, getting Florida State in Provo will be a tremendous test. While there are three home games in a row after going to Tulane there's a stretch of four road games in five with a week off after the home game against TCU. There won't be too much crying, though, considering the Cougars get the Horned Frogs and Utah at home. There isn't a road game (not counting the neutral-site game, at least in theory, against Oklahoma) against a team that finished last year with a bowl appearance.

Best Offensive Player: Senior QB Max Hall. It's the old adage; you can say 99 nice things about someone, but it's the one negative that gets the attention. Hall had a phenomenal junior season throwing for 3,957 yards and 35 touchdowns, while running for four scores, but 2008 might mostly be remembered for his ugly performance in the loss to Utah when he threw for a mere 205 yards with five interceptions. In the three losses, Hall threw eight picks and just one touchdown pass while throwing six picks and 34 scores in the ten wins. Considering he was sharper this offseason, he should keep the mistakes to a minimum.

Best Defensive Player: Senior DE Jan Jorgensen. The Mountain West's all-time leading sacker needs to show the quick burst that made him such a terror two years ago to get the attention of NFL scouts again. He slimmed down, got stronger, and is trying to get a bit faster at 259 pounds. He should flourish with a good line around him, but he'll certainly be a marked man.

Key player to a successful season: Junior CB Brandon Bradley. He was strong against the run last season with 40 tackles, 33 of them unassisted, but his real worth will be to handle himself on an island against No. 1 targets. The opener against Oklahoma might be an aberration since there isn't anyone in the Mountain West who can throw half as well as the Sooners will, but if the secondary can be steady, and if Bradley can erase one side of the field, the Cougar defense should make a huge improvement.

The season will be a success if ... BYU wins the Mountain West title. Walk first, then run. BYU can't get to the BCS without winning the Mountain West, and with TCU and Utah coming to Provo, getting the championship is more than just a nice goal to shoot for. It was all supposed to come together last season with all the returning starters and all the star power, but this year's team should be better with the expected improvement of the stars and the question marks to be quickly answered. At least that's the hope.

Key game: Sept, 19 vs. Florida State. Beating Oklahoma would obviously change the complexion of the season before it even starts, but that might be an ugly early loss. It doesn't matter either way as long as the Cougars can improve enough to beat Florida State in the home opener to kick off a three-game stand. If BYU plays up to its talent and potential, this is a two-game league season against TCU and Utah. Getting Colorado State and Air Force, the conference's second tier teams, at home is a major plus. The FSU game will be when BYU has to establish its dominance in its own park and show that this really is a different year.

2008 Fun Stats:
- Second quarter scoring: BYU 140 - Opponents 74
- Penalties: BYU 101 for 912 yards - Opponents 77 for 704 yards
- Fourth down conversions: BYU 7-of-10 (70%) - Opponents 8-of-19 (42%)

- 2009 CFN BYU Preview | 2009 BYU Offense
- 2008 BYU Defense | 2008 BYU Depth Chart
- 2008 BYU Preview | 2007 BYU Preview | 2006  BYU Preview


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2009 BYU Preview - Offense
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2009 BYU Preview - Defense
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2009 BYU Preview – Depth Chart
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