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August 21, 2014
Sizing up BYU's first game against UCONN
I've enjoyed looking into BYU's schedule a bit deeper this summer, getting excited for the season to start (It's more fun than watching baseball on TV). It's easy to look at the names on the schedule and develop a quick opinion based on what you've heard about a program or what you think you might know. Quick consensus on BYU's schedule is that it's not too tough. After diving into Central Florida I realized that they will definitely not be pushovers and that BYU will have to be on their game in order to leave Florida with a win. So I did the same thing with the Cougars' first opponent, UCONN, and I realized the opposite of what I found with Central Florida - that this team is actually worse than I thought.
UCONN has a brand new 41-year old coach that came over from Notre Dame. He was hardly complimentary of his new team in a recent interview. They have 3 quarterbacks in camp that have all taken a snap in a game but none of them are the clear cut favorite to win the job. When you have 3 quarterbacks that usually means you don't have 1. Their O-line may be their weakest spot. The coach said that they don't have a bunch of guys that can compete for 12 games at a winning level, but then said "but they're improving". Not exactly a ringing endorsement from their own coach. At least at running back they had a returning starter who happened to be the 4th leading rusher in school history. - Oh wait, he was dismissed from the team in the summer and won't be returning. So they'll have a new running back and a new quarterback behind a bad offensive line. That doesn't sound too intimidating. This is a team that has won just 3 games in each of the last two seasons. Add to that the fact that they lose 5 guys from their front 7 on defense and this appears to be another rebuilding season for the Huskies.
But they do have some things going for them. Wide Receiver Geremy Davis is an NFL talent. He had a big season last year despite the musical chairs at quarterback and looks to add to that. Without their top running back, I'm betting they'll find as many ways as possible to get the ball into Davis' hands. I'm sure they'll move him from the outside to the slot, run some quick receiver screens to help the O-line out and maybe get him the ball on reverses and quick routes as well. Despite losing quite a few of their front 7, they do return one of the top corners in the country in Byron Jones. He's a bigger corner at 6'1" and likes to get physical with the receivers. According to the coach, he has NFL talent as well. The last positive note is that, despite only winning 3 games last season, they won the last 3 games so they're on a winning streak right now and feel like maybe they've got a bit of momentum going.
For most average BYU fans, UCF and UCONN are unknown opponents. After studying both of them, I believe UCF will be tougher than what I'm hearing from most people, but UCONN on the other hand does not have the talent to compete consistently at the D-1 level this season.