Commentary: BYU football's way-too-early position-by-position breakdown (12 items)
BYU's season opener at UConn is still 198 days away, and it's still way too early to look at where the Cougars stand at every position.
Of course it's too early, but with BYU's 2014 recruiting class in the bag and spring camp just around the corner there's plenty to talk about. For example, who will replace the likes of Kyle Van Noy and Cody Hoffman? Can the offensive line finally gel? What happens if Taysom Hill goes down to injury?
Here's our way-too-early position-by-position breakdown for 2014.
Lafe Peavler is a sports writer for the Deseret News. Follow him on Twitter @LafePeavler.
1 of 12. Offensive overview
The offensive line remains a concern headed in 2014, and the tight ends are far from what BYU's greats of old were. Still, there's plenty of room for optimism on this side of the ball.
2 of 12. Quarterbacks
The good news is that Hill is poised to build on his sophomore season. No one can dispute his ability to blow past defenses and rack up a lot of yards. His 1,344 yards and 10 touchdowns rushing give ample testimony of that.
Yes, Hill's arm still needs some work. However, he made steady improvement as the season progressed. After he threw just one touchdown pass in his first four games, he finished with 19 by season's end. It's doubtful he'll ever break any passing records at BYU, but with a bit more seasoning and work he can certainly become the quarterback the Cougars need to win double-digit games.
The biggest concern for the Cougars is what happens if Hill goes down for any reason this upcoming season. With Ammon Olsen gone to SUU, his potential backups are Christian Stewart and Billy Green. Both players have extremely limited experience actually running the offense. Throwing either quarterback into Robert Anae's "go fast, go hard" offense could be disastrous if something sidelines Hill.
In short, the Cougars need Hill to stay healthy. That will likely affect how the coaching staff uses him in 2014.
3 of 12. Running back
BYU also has some decent backups. While Williams and Hill combined for 69.7 percent of the carries last season, Paul Lasike, Algernon Brown and Adam Hine all at least have some good experience.
Former rugby star Lasike will likely remain Williams' primary backup. While he's not as shifty as Williams, he can provide the Cougar offensive with a nice change of pace as he's solid in the power running game. Hine will likely remain BYU's primary kick return man, and he'll probably get most of his yards from that in 2014.
Also, the Cougars will have Iona Pritchard back, and he'll have plenty of work to do to distinguish himself from this already crowded backfield.
Overall, BYU doesn't have much to worry about here.
4 of 12. Wide receiver
Which is why the Cougars focused so heavily on recruiting wide receivers.
The nice thing is BYU's wide receiver recruits have more experience than players fresh out of high school. The Cougars have a solid pair of junior college transfers in Nick Kurtz and Devon Blackmon. At 6-6, Kurtz brings excellent size combined with a 4.5 40-yard dash time. Blackmon doesn't have that towering size, but he does bring a 4.4 40-yard dash speed to the table.
BYU also landed UTEP transfer Jordan Leslie. Because he's already graduated with a degree in electrical engineering, he'll be able to play right away. Leslie had 44 receptions for 612 yards and seven touchdowns last season, but more importantly he brings valuable experience at the FBS level.
And don't forget Mitch Mathews. Before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury against Wisconsin, the 6-6 sophomore had 23 catches for 397 yards and four touchdowns. Plus, Ross Apo returns and will hopefully start living up to his hype after catching just 14 passes for 204 yards and three touchdowns in 2013.
While BYU will have a bunch of new faces, these wide receivers have a tremendous upside.
5 of 12. Tight end
The Cougars return Brett Thompson and Devin Mahina, but both of these players combined for just 19 receptions for 217 yards and no touchdowns. Part of the reason is that tight ends simply haven't been an emphasis of the BYU offense for the past four seasons.
But now that Anae has had a year to install his new offense, we could see more passes directed at tight ends.
The Cougars have two tight ends returning from their missions in Colby Jorgensen and Matt Sumsion. The bottom line is that tight ends still have a long way to go to live up to BYU's tradition and expectations at this position.