2015 BYU Football Predictions: Independent (2014 record: 8-5)
Head Coach: Bronco Mendenhall
National Championship Odds: +30,000
Season Win Totals Over-Under Odds: Over 8.5 (+175), Under 8.5 (-245)
The 2014 season was a season of streaks with 2 different 4 game winning streaks divided by a 4 game losing streak. Early in the season, the Cougars offense has trouble consistently putting the ball into the end-zone. However, they really got things rolling over the last four games of the season when they averaged close to 50 PPG. On the season, they averaged just over 37 PPG with offensive production of 460 YPG. Its worth noting most of that came from a vaunted passing game that accounted for almost 280 YPG.
BYU played a lot of players last season. They had 7 running backs with at least 40 carried, platooning QBs and 7 wide receivers with at least 240 yards receiving. From those groups of players, the only significant loss is QB Christian Stewart who threw for 2,61 yards and 25 TDs as the passing half of the QB platoon. With his graduation, it should put the starting job firmly in the hands of dual threat QB SR Taysom Hill who threw for 975 yards and 7 TDs in 2014 while also rushing for just under 500 yards and 8 TDS. He will be joined in the backfield by returning SR RB Jammal Williams who led the team in rushing with 518 yards and 4 TDs. Perhaps the most exciting player to return in 2015 is SR WR Mitch Mathews who led the team in receiving with 922 yards and 9 TDs.
Coach Mendenhall has to be thrilled to see so much senior leadership on this side of the ball. If there was any criticism that seemed on point about the 2014 offense, it was the fact they lacked explosiveness. With an additional year of experience playing together, look for this years offense to correct that problem and look like they did in late 2014.
In 2014, BYU’s defense played pretty well, holding opponents to less that 400 YPG of total offense. The unit was aggressive enough to secure 26 turnovers, but they also got penalized a lot with interference and off-sides calls. It was this over-aggressiveness that led to giving up too many points, which cost them a couple of games they should have won.
Unlike the offensive unit that is returning most of its key players, the defense has been ravaged by graduation. Gone are the top three defensive players who held this group together. The most sorely missed player will most likely be CB Skye Povey who led the team in tackles with 78 to go along with 1 sack and 2 interceptions. After looking at the list of returning players, it would seem the best player to start rebuilding the defense around would be SR DL Bronson Kaufusi who proved to be a real force upfront. In all, he had 43 tackles to go along with a team 7 sakes and 11.5 tackles for a loss on the season last year. Beyond him, there will be a lot new faces in the lineup for Coach Mendelhall as the season begins.
Over the last few years, BYU has struggled to put a team on the field with strong players on both sides of the ball. The offense looks pretty good at this point in time barring injuries, while the defense is going to struggle to compete at this level based on average amounts of player experience. If BYU wants to play in a major bowl this year, this defense will have to mature in a hurry.
This is another solid squad for Bronco Mendenhall. The schedule is really tough early but tapers off mid-way through the season. This is a solid 8-9 win team again this year.