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2010 BYU Preview – Offense
BYU WR O'Neill Chambers
BYU WR O'Neill Chambers
Posted Jun 29, 2010 2010 Preview - BYU Cougar Offense

BYU Cougars

Preview 2010 - Offense

- 2010 BYU Preview | 2010 BYU Offense
- 2010 BYU Defense | 2010 BYU Depth Chart
- BYU Previews  2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006

What You Need To Know: Yeah, there are lots of big holes to fill and yeah, there will be an adjustment period, but it’s BYU; the offense will be fine. This won’t be the nation’s 21st ranked offense again, but it’ll be good. The line that was way too mediocre last year has the potential to be phenomenal with four starters returning led by All-America candidate Matt Reynolds at left tackle. The wide receivers are experienced and good, and there’s speed in the backfield that should be able to crank out yards and chunks if the line plays a bit better. With star running back Harvey Unga off the team for a violation of school code, it’ll be up to a regular rotation to try to pick up the slack. Losing tight ends Dennis Pitta and Andrew George is tough, and it’ll be up to three freshmen to try to take over. But the big question mark is at quarterback with four players in the hunt to replace Max Hall. Riley Nelson was the top backup last year, but he’s just a stopgap (if he’s the starter) before Jake Heaps, arguably the nation’s top quarterback recruit, is ready.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Riley Nelson
7-10, 99 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: J.J. Di Luigi
45 carries, 248 yds, 3 TD
Receiving: O’Neill Chambers
32 catches, 376 yds, 1 TD

Star of the offense: Junior OT Matt Reynolds
Player who has to step up and be a star: Junior RB J.J. Di Luigi
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore OG Braden Hansen
Best pro prospect: Reynolds
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Reynolds, 2) Hansen, 3) C Terence Brown
Strength of the offense: Line, Receiver Experience
Weakness of the offense: Quarterback Experience, New Tight Ends


Projected Starter: The new star BYU quarterback could hit the ground running from Day One. Super-recruit Jake Heaps was considered the top quarterback prospect by many after throwing for 3,191 yards and 45 touchdowns in his senior year, and now the pressure is on to be great right away. Even though he was wanted by almost everyone from LSU to Tennessee to Cal, the Washington native isn’t huge at 6-2 and 205 pounds and has a mediocre arm. He gets rid of the ball in a hurry, has a quick mind, and he should be deadly right away for the short-to-midrange passing game. While he’s not necessarily a sure-thing NFL prospect like Matthew Stafford was when he started for Georgia as a true freshman, he has the talent to be the leader of the attack for the next four years.

Projected Top Reserves: While the fans might be clamoring for the franchise quarterback, Heaps, to take over the reins, former Utah State Aggie Riley Nelson is getting every chance for the job. More of a mobile option, the 6-0, 207-pound junior brings a different skill set, but he can also throw. The 2005 Utah Mr. Football threw for a state record 79 touchdown passes and 4,041 passing yards, and after spending a few years on an LDS mission in Spain, he has had an interesting career without actually doing much on the field. He’s mature enough to handle the starting job if he gets it.

While he appears to be the third man in the equation, sophomore James Lark is being given every chance to win the starting job. At 6-2 and 200 pounds he has decent size and a nice arm, but he’s rusty having not thrown a live pass in five years. After throwing for 6,739 career yards with a Utah high school record 79 touchdowns, he redshirted his first year at BYU and then went on a church mission. Mobile, he has the skills to be a dangerous dual-threat playmaker.

6-5, 225-pound freshman Jason Munns was going to get a look as the No. 2 job last year before getting hit with a season-ending knee injury. A big, strong passer who was recruited by USC and Nebraska, the Washington native has the arm and he has the size, but he might get caught up in the numbers game with so many good options. He’ll get a few chances, but he’ll have to be special to beat out Jake Heaps or Riley Nelson.

Watch Out For … this to be an ongoing issue throughout the year. Nelson is the safest choice, and the pressure will be on Heaps to be otherworldly from the start. Larks and Munns are also good enough to start and get the offense moving.
Strength: Options. Could Heaps redshirt? Nelson and Munns were also top recruits and aren’t just going to hand the ball over to the uber-prospect just because he’s a superior talent. There are different skills among the four, and the coaching staff will be able to get some long looks.
Weakness: Experience. Nelson threw ten passes and ran 21 times, and that’s about it. The talent is undeniable among the group, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be some rocky moments.
Outlook: Call this the X factor in the Mountain West race. The starter will have to be steady and will have to put up big numbers, but there’s room for mistakes. Max Hall certainly didn’t have many qualms about throwing picks (giving away 14 last year) and the new starter can’t be looking over his shoulder. Some think the Cougars should go with Heaps and live through the growing pains for the big payoff to come, but he might actually be the safest choice because of his skills.
Unit Rating: 6.5

Running Backs

Projected Starters: With Harvey Unga off the team, it’ll be up to last year’s second leading rusher, J.J. Di Luigi , to shine. Only 5-9 and 198 pounds, he’s a speed runner who came back from a foot injury that cost him all of 2007 to play a little bit of a role in 2008 before rushing for 248 yards and three touchdowns last year with 71 coming against Tulane. A top recruit who could’ve gone anywhere on the West Coast, he provides more quickness to the running game and is a terrific kick returner. While he won’t be a workhorse, he could end up being a dangerous weapon as both a runner and a receiver after making 22 catches for 270 yards and four scores.

Projected Top Reserves: Junior Bryan Kariya will bring more power to the equation than J.J. Di Luigi, and he’s ready for a bigger role after running for 199 yards and two scores last season. A nice receiver, he caught 22 passes for 186 yards and two scores working like a fullback in a variety of roles. While he’s a good blocker, at 6-0 and 214 pounds he’s not a thumper.

In need of more running back help, true freshman Joshua Quezada will get every shot at taking over the starting job. The 5-11, 210-pounder ran for 2,114 yards and 26 touchdowns in his senior year, and he can catch a little bit. He brings a little bit of power and has a nose for the goal line, and he’s shifty enough to find the hole and cut back to get through it in a hurry.

5-10, 223-pound sophomore Mike Hague got a little bit of work in last year running four times for 15 yards, and was a factor in 2006 running for 166 yards averaging 7.4 yards per carry, before going on a mission. He got hurt early last season and was able to take a medical redshirt to have three years remaining, and while he won’t be a workhorse, he’ll be a speedy option who can be used as both a runner and a receiver.

Watch Out For … Quezada. The one thing keeping him from wanting to go to BYU was his long hair; he didn’t want to have to cut it. Everything worked out, and now the speedy talent should be a key part of the offense. He could end up being the team’s top rushing weapon and he could turn out to be the team’s newest star.
Strength: Speed and quickness. Everyone can scoot. Queszada and Kariya are fast, but Hague and Di Luigi are home run hitters who can each average well over five yards per carry. The ground game will revolved around a few different backs, and they should all be able to crank out big plays.
Weakness: Harvey Unga. He was a horse who came up with 1,087 yards and 11 touchdowns, and he would’ve been a key centerpiece of the attack had he still been a part of the team. While there are some nice backs who could combine to pick up the slack, at least somewhat, Unga was an All-America caliber star.
Outlook: The rushing attack took a backseat to the rest of the passing attack over the last few years, but even with the new quarterbacks likely to need some time, the young backs need to take over the offense at times. It’ll be a good collection of runners who should combine for well over 1,500 yards, but it would be nice if one could emerge from the pack and be the go-to guy.
Unit Rating: 5.5


Projected Starters: The team needed a No. 1 receiver to emerge with the loss of Austin Collie, and junior McKay Jacobson gave it a go but got banged up. While he wasn’t the unstoppable target Collie was, the 5-11, 192-pound Jacobson managed to finish second on the team with 23 catches for 556 yards and four touchdowns. He came up with 111 yards and a score on just two catches against Florida State and made three grabs for 100 yards and a touchdown against Wyoming. Mature after spending two years on church mission, he knows what he’s supposed to do and he’s a proven home run hitter, but he has to show he can stay healthy after having lingering problems with a hamstring injury.

With 6-2, 210-pound size and a few years of starting experience, junior O’Neill Chambers is a proven veteran who finished second on the team with 32 catches for 376 yards and a touchdown, and he has also averaged an impressive 25.6 yards per kickoff return. Strong and physical, he catches everything thrown his way and has the raw tools to do even more.

The Cougars are in desperate need of replacing not one, but two great tight ends with the loss of the team’s No. 1 (Dennis Pitta) and No. 3 (Andrew George) receivers. There will be a rotation, but redshirt freshman Mike Muehlmann is the most promising prospect with wide receiver-like skills in his 6-4, 227-pound frame and a good burst. A great pass rushing defensive end in high school to go along with his tight end duties, he’s physical and is a nice route runner.

Projected Top Reserves: Senior Luke Ashworth has grown into a role in the rotation making 28 catches for 387 yards and four touchdowns with three scores in the final four games. At 6-2 and 196 pounds he has good size and is a fantastic athlete, but he’ll be a third receiver when he’s not playing second fiddle to McKay Jacobson.

The Cougars are in desperate need of more playmakers, and could use junior Spencer Hafoka to build on his 16-catch, 155-yard, one score effort of last year. The 6-0, 196-pounder is a deep threat who has the potential to be a punt and/or kick returner from time to time with phenomenal speed. He was a Hawaii high school track star with state-champion level talent in the long and high jumps.

True freshman Devin Mahina returned to school after spending time on a church mission, and he’s ready to roll. At 6-6 and 225 pounds he’s a big target with good midrange speed and athleticism. A matchup nightmare, he’ll be a problem around the goal line and against smallish defenders; his jumping ability makes him play even bigger.

Watch Out For … Jacobson. As long as he’s able to stay healthy, he has the potential to be a No. 1 target. Chambers might be the team’s best receiver, but Jacobson is a dangerous option who should average well over 14 yards per catch and should make several big plays.
Strength: The Chambers and Jacobson combination. All the top wide receivers from last year are back with a nice twosome in Chambers and Jacobson. Ashworth and Hafoka know what they’re doing and will fill in as part of a rotation and in three and four-wide sets.
Weakness: Tight end. Pitta and George combined for 92 catches and 13 touchdowns. While BYU always gets production out of the tight ends, these are two all-star targets with the talent and the ability to make a passing game go. The Cougars have to find new safety valves to step up.
Outlook: This is a good receiving corps with plenty of veterans, but there will need to be a surprise or three to keep the air show going. The experienced playmakers are going to have to bail the new starting quarterback out of jams, and consistency will be vital.
Unit Rating: 7

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: Junior Matt Reynolds has been one of the Mountain West’s best blockers over the last few seasons as the anchor of the line. At 6-6 and 329 pounds, he has prototype NFL size and tremendous talent at left tackle. One of the best offensive line prospects the program has ever brought aboard, the former Utah Gatorade Player of the Year has lived up to the hype and more. While he hasn’t been impossible to get by, most pass rushers haven’t been able to get to the quarterback. He’ll once again be the blocker everything works around.

Sophomore Braden Hansen got his two-year mission out of the way early and returned ready to roll. He ended up surprising a bit by starting every game earning Freshman All-America honors showing off the talent and the upside that made him such a good recruit a few years ago. Bulked up, he’s not at 300 pounds on his 6-6 frame and he should be even stronger for the ground game at left guard. He’s athletic enough to play tackle if needed.

The massive 6-3, 340-pound Terrence Brown is more athletic than his size might indicate, and he’s versatile enough to move from right guard, where he started every game last year, to center. On the CFN All-Sophomore Team, he was a steady pounder for the ground game and is more than smart enough to handle the responsibility to handle all the line calls in the middle.

With Brown moving over, senior Nick Alletto will also move going from right tackle to right guard. The 6-6, 329-pounder suffered a knee injury last offseason but was able to play though the problems to start in 11 games, and while he was good, he wasn’t a rock in pass protection. A great athlete who bulked up and put on plenty of pounds, he moves well for his size and should be dominant for the ground game on the inside.

6-6, 250-pound Braden Brown is built like a tall, thin tight end (which he used to be) rather than a bruising tackle. He saw a little action starting twice late in the year on the right side, and he showed enough to get a longer look at the starting job this year. Very athletic, he was recruited by USC, Oregon, and others in the Pac 10, and he’s expected to be a starter for the next few years on the outside.

Projected Top Reserves: Senior Jason Speredon was expected to be a starter going into last year, but he suffered a shoulder injury and missed the entire year. Healthy again, the 6-5, 313-pounder will work on the left side playing behind Matt Reynolds, and he could be used on the right side to add more beef than Braden Brown. Extremely versatile, he can play guard, too, after being looked at on the left side last year.

Houston Reynolds , Matt’s brother, was expected to see time last year, but he got hurt before the season started and now will be a key reserve at both guard and center. At 6-2 and 303 pounds, he’s a big blocker who moves extremely well. While he’s nowhere near as talented as his brother, he’s still a very good prospect who should be in the mix for all-star honors before his career is up.

Watch Out For … Right tackle. It’ll be an interesting situation to see if BYU keeps a player as light as Braden Brown on the outside for the entire year. He’s a great athlete and he should improve the pass protection, but there might be a regular rotation with Walter Kahaialii, a 6-3, 320-pound sophomore who’s a physical specimen for the ground game.
Strength: Reynolds. An elite blocker who should be a first-team All-American on several lists and a strong NFL prospect, he’s a player to work around on the left side to make the rest of the line shine. With four returning starters, the line should be cohesive and more effective.
Weakness: Blocking. Considering how good Reynolds is, and with Hansen and Brown each good enough to be in the hunt for all-star honors, the line should’ve been better. It was fine in pass protection, but not special, and it was decent for the ground game, but not elite.
Outlook: BYU’s line went through a bit of an adjustment period, but it should come out looking extremely strong now that four starters are back from a line that was relatively healthy throughout last year. The reserves need some experience and the right tackle situation has to be solidified, but overall this should be one of the Mountain West’s better lines.
Unit Rating: 7.5

- 2010 BYU Preview | 2010 BYU Offense
- 2010 BYU Defense | 2010 BYU Depth Chart
- BYU Previews  2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006