BYU football: 2015 opponent preview (Part 1)

Ari Davis
Taysom Hill runs the ball down field in the game against Utah State. Hill suffered his third season-ending injury in the 2015 season-opening win against Nebraska. (Ari Davis)

Cougar fans have been anxiously counting down the days until BYU football returns to see what surprises are in store this year, and the wait is finally over.

The 2015 football season for BYU will no longer bring the long awaited return of quarterback Taysom Hill, instead ushering in the Tanner Mangum era, a question mark at the running back position and the return of head coach Bronco Mendenhall over the defense.

9/5 at Nebraska: W 33-28

9/12 vs. No. 20 Boise State (8:15 MDT; ESPN2): BYU is a measly 1–4 all-time against the Boise State Broncos, including last year’s demoralizing 55-30 loss on the Smurf Turf (which actually may not be as bad as when they lost to Boise State this time. Or this time. Or this time). But this year’s game will be atthe  LaVell Edwards Stadium, where BYU thrashed the Broncos 37-20 in 2013.

9/19 at No. 13 UCLA (8:30 MDT; Fox Sports 1): The UCLA Bruins lost star quarterback Brett Hundley to the NFL last year and have chosen to go with true freshman Josh Rosen at quarterback. Yet despite all that, the national media has UCLA pegged at No. 13 in the preseason AP poll.

Look for the Cougars defense to turn up the pressure by focusing on running back Paul Perkins, who led the Pac-12 with 1575 rushing yards in 2014. They should have a shot if they can limit Perkins and force Rosen to carry the burden of moving the offense.

9/26 at Michigan (TBA; TBA): Michigan’s new starting quarterback Jake Ruddock got off to a rocky start in the season opener loss against Utah throwing three interceptions, but the Wolverines still have 2015 Mackey Award candidate Jake Butt with 41 career receptions for 446 yards and four touchdowns.

Start of the Mangum Era

New starting quarterback Mangum made his college football debut in Saturday’s win against Nebraska with an unforgettable Hail Mary pass in the last second of the game.

“Tanner Mangum is just a few months off his mission and being able to come in and help our team win,” Mendenhall said.

The freshman from Eagle, Idaho recently returned from an LDS mission to Chile and appears more than ready to step up an fill Hill’s shoes. Mangum was rated the No. 1 football prospect in the state of Idaho and the No. 3 overall quarterback in the nation by before coming to BYU.

“I was very confident from what he had demonstrated so far. He hasn’t been back for very long. It wasn’t a question of ability or capability, it was just a question of how long he could go because he’s been back from his mission for such a short amount of time,” Mendenhall said of Mangum’s performance against Nebraska. “But mentally and physically from an arm-throwing capability and a decision-making process he’s really sharp. We just now have to put a unique structure in place to help him make it through the year. ”

Bronco back over defense

Mendenhall decided to take over his former responsibilities as defensive coordinator hoping that this will give them a chance to achieve the programs desired results on the field, according to Mendenhall.

“I think the defense is much more confident with me,” Mendenhall said after a scrimmage last month. “They know now what to expect and how things are going to be run. I am getting to know them better, not only individually, but their identity and where to put each player on the field.”




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