Posted: 10:00 a.m. Friday, Aug. 30, 2013
**Editor's note: Be sure to check out our answers to Academically Ineligible's questions over in their corner of the internet!**
Streaking The Lawn: BYU's biggest question mark coming into the season seems to be under center, something UVa fans are all too familiar with. What do you expect from Taysom Hill this season?
Academically Ineligible: Cougar faithful expect something far better than the previous 3 seasons. Quarterback controversies, dual QB systems, and overall poor play under center have let an awful taste in our mouths. We're going to see the offense run quick and hard. Look for 90+ plays. So if BYU is going that hard, lookfor a systematic offense that may not throw down the field, but will get down the field in a hurry. Don't look for Taysom to be electric, but he'll get his numbers.
STL: Jamaal Williams carried a ton of the load on the ground, but didn't seem to have much effective help behind him. Same for the WR corps: Cody Hoffman can make some magic, but the drop-off is sharp. Who are some unsung guys who will have to step up this season?
AI: Ross Apo is the guy that should be the Robin to Hoffman's Batman. He hasn't produced in a way that Cougar Nation expected him to when he was recruited, but he is the onlyreceiver with height and build to offset Hoffman. He's got another season to prove to BYU what he's all about. After Apo, you've got Skyler Ridley and J.D. Faslev. They'renot flashy by any stretch, but both are great route runners and possession receivers. Lastly, BYU is hoping tight end Kaneakua Friel will continue to improve on last years season. At 6'5 and 250, he's a load in the middle and could be instrumental in opening up the passing game for the Cougars.
STL: It's impossible to talk BYU football under Bronco Mendenhall without talking defense. That unit last year was . nasty. With Ziggy Ansah gone, who are the Cougars going to lean on to help Kyle Van Noy?
AI: The short answer is Spencer Hadley and Uani Unga. The much broader picture tells us that BYU probably has nowhere to go but in reverse from last year's play. That statement becomes more probable given the fact that our secondary has been nearly wiped out by season ending injuries. The focal point again is the front 7 and how effectively they can turn an offense into a one-dimensional team. That was part of the beauty with last season's defense: Nobody could run against them, so it became easier to stop the pass with 7 guys in coverage. Expect something similar Saturday. Running room will be at a premium.
STL: We Wahoos like to talk a big game about our schedule this year, what with BYU and Oregon both coming to town. But egads, what a murderers' row BYU has set itself up for: hosting Texas and Utah early, traveling to Wisconsin and Notre Dame late. Aside from the trip to Charlottesville and the annual Holy War rivalry, what game is drawing the most eyes for your fan base?
AI: Ya, you like the schedule do you? So does Cougar Nation! It looks every bit the part of a BCS National Championship schedule. Not making a prediction, just inferring the schedule strength warrants the consideration. To answer your question, it's Wisconsin for two reasons. First, because Cougar Nation has never been to Camp Randall Stadium. So to get that "roadie" experience, like many received in South Bend last season, will be a treat for the diehards and the locals. Second, BYU, with its toughness against the run, makes this match-up very intriguing against the "we're-part-of-the-Big-10-so-we-like-to-run-50-times-a-game" style of Wisconsin.
STL: Enough talk. Who ya got on Saturday?
AI: I'm taking a jittery BYU team, playing with a relatively new quarterback, new offensive coordinator, shaky defensive secondary, and an atrocity-in-waiting in our kicking situation 31-21. BYU probably comes out shaky, putting pressure on themselves to win this game before facing Texas. Once they find rhythm, they'll be tough to control.