Three Reasons for Optimism if BYU Faces Alabama
In September 2017, Kalani Sitake and the Cougars traveled to New Orleans to play LSU in the Mercedes Benz Super Dome. The Cougars never crossed the 50-yard line in a 27-0 defeat. If football is played, Alabama has been rumored as a potential week one foe, BYU fans have to wonder if the same nightmare will occur if BYU meets another one of the SEC’s finest programs.
The bar was set very low in 2017 and the Cougars will likely have more success against the Crimson Tide in 2020 than they did against the Tigers in 2017. As BYU fans painfully remember, BYU won only four games that season.
If BYU faces Alabama, they will look to improve on their last performance against an SEC power. "I am super impressed by our student-athletes,” BYU Athletic Director Tom Holmoe said. “They are ready to go. That’s what our motto was: When this thing is over, we are going to be ready to go.” (BYU Sports Nation)
Here are 3 reasons why the Cougars could be “ready to go” against Alabama in Week 1:
1) Depth and Talent on the Defensive End
The Linebacker room has the talent and depth to be a very productive group in 2020. BYU moved from a 3-4 base defense to a 4-3 base defense during the spring shifting a variety of players to maximize the amount of talent on the field at any given time. Max Tooley and Zayne Anderson both moved from the Linebackers core to the defensive backfield.
Khyiris Tonga, who decided to forgo the NFL Draft and return to BYU for his senior season – will be the anchor of a Defensive Line that will feature more four-down fronts in 2020. Tonga has a total of 75 tackles including 3 sacks in the last two seasons. (ESPN)
2) Matt Bushman
Matt Bushman. Bushman – who led the Cougars in receiving yards his first three seasons - is one of the most productive tight ends in college football and will have a huge impact in the fall. Like Tonga, he decided to forgo the NFL Draft and return to BYU for his final season. BYU will depend on his consistency as they attempt to compete against the likes Alabama, Notre Dame, and Texas A&M (should any of those potential matchups pan out).
Bushman had 47 receptions in 2019 for 688 yards and four touchdowns, he is the only BYU tight end to record 500-plus receiving yards in a season since 2009. Bushman showed up big in games against ranked opponents last season including 101 yards for 2 TDs against no. 14 Boise State and 89 receiving yards for 1 TD against no. 22 Washington. (ESPN)
Having a strong duo has also proven to make great BYU tight ends, including the likes of BYU greats Itula Mili and Chad Lewis, Jonny Harline and Daniel Coats, Dennis Pitta and Andrew George. Isaac Rex has huge potential to be a huge asset to the offense this year and create nightmare mismatches for defenses trying to contain two very capable, big-bodied tight ends.
3) Experience in the QB Room
It is still up in the air who will be QB1 for BYU come September, but each Quarterback showed signs of elite play during the 2019 Season. Zach Wilson (1) – the starter in 2019 showed up big when the Cougars traveled to SEC country and beat Tennessee in double overtime at Neyland Stadium. Wilson threw for 2,382 yards last season for 11 touchdowns. Wilson, who was never quite healthy in 2019, is set to have a breakout season should BYU play in the fall.
Jaren Hall (3) also had a few starts and big time appearances for the Cougars in 2019. Hall absolutely dominated Utah State and outplayed Utah State standout and NFL First Round pick Jordan Love. Hall – who was cut short due to an injury late in the 2nd quarter – threw 12 times for 214 yards while rushing 54 yards for 2 touchdowns. Hall – unlike the other two quarterbacks who started in 2019 – did not to throw an INT during the 2019 season.
Baylor Romney (16) – QB3 on the depth chart in 2019 – had some unexpected appearances and starts in 2019. Romney is easily the most composed and routine quarterback on the depth chart. He had an impressive first start against no. 14 Boise State – who the Cougars defeated 28-25 in Provo – throwing 15 for 26 for a total of 221 yards and zero interceptions.
Though there are no certainties for the 2020 season, but BYU is preparing for every scenario.