Updated: Aug 13, 2019
Heading into the 2019 season BYU looks to be a much-improved team, but will it translate to wins? It is possible that the Cougars could both be a better football team than last year and start the season 0-4. Utah, Tennessee, USC, and Washington are all talented football teams who, based on recruiting rankings to have much more firepower than BYU. So what does BYU need to do to avoid an 0-4 start? There are 2 keys to winning these games.
For the Cougars, it all comes down to quarterback play. I believe Zach Wilson has the ability to be the best quarterback on the field in each of the first 4 games. In order to win any of these games, Zach Wilson and his receivers need to be on the same page and firing on all cylinders. Multiple receivers and tight ends need to be making plays and involved in the offense in order to move the ball and put up points against these talented foes. In addition to his arm, Zach will need to use his legs to keep the chains moving against each of these opponents. If Zach is successful and is able to pick up yards with his arm and legs BYU will be able to put up points against each opponent. A great quarterback can be an equalizer against uber talented opponents.
On the other side of the ball, BYU needs to force these teams to become one dimensional. That means STOP THE RUN! BYU loses its leading tackler from a season ago, Sione Takitaki, and will need others to step up this year to be dominant against the run. Along the front four BYU returns a lot of talent, led by Khyris Tonga. Alongside Khyris we will see Lorenzo Fautea, Zac Dawe, Devin Kaufusi, and Bracken El Bakri making plays up front. All of them showed last year that they have the ability to be good football players if the front four can reach their potential, the team will have a shot in every game this season. Behind them, BYU returns 2 talented linebackers, Zayne Anderson and Isaiah Kaufusi with many young talented players looking to fill the vacancy left by Takitaki (check out this article to read more about the future at Linebacker). If BYU is able to force each of the teams in the first 4 to become one-dimensional and rely on their quarterback, they will have a shot to win in all of them.
It is scary when it seems optimistic to say BYU will win 2 of their first 4 games, and that is not an indictment on this year’s team; it is the reality of playing a challenging independent schedule. BYU is the only team in the country to start the year against four straight Power 5 opponents, and each of the four has the talent to have good seasons. SB Nation has BYU’s win probabilities in the first four games as 34% against Utah, 29% against Tennessee, 44% against USC and 29% against Washington. Each game will be tough in its own way. Utah’s defense will be one of the best in the country with great pass rushers and a great secondary. Tennessee returns a lot of last years team and has a new offensive coordinator hoping to bring firepower to an offense with talented playmakers. USC is coming off a down year but has 4 and 5-star athletes at every position. Washington demonstrated to BYU fans last year that the Huskies are one of if not the best program in the west right now.
BYU needs to be ready out of the gate to deal with each of these challenging opponents, winning 2 of the first 4 would be huge for the program. 2-2 in the first four likely leads to a season of 8 or more wins which is exactly what Cougar fans need after the last couple years.
Leave a comment below letting us know what you think the key is to avoiding an 0-4 start!!