BYU Cougars Preview 2022: Season Prediction, Breakdown, Key Games, Players

·9 min read

BYU Cougars Preview 2022: Previewing, predicting, and looking ahead to the BYU season with what you need to know and keys to the season.

Contact/Follow @ColFootballNews & @PeteFiutak

BYU Cougars Preview
Head Coach: Kalani Sitake, 7th year at BYU, 48-29
2021 Preview: 10-3 record
Keys To The Season | Season Prediction, What Will Happen
BYU Top 10 Players | BYU Schedule

BYU Cougars Preview 2022

They’re not there quite yet.

It’s going to be easy to write this season off as the warm-up before finally joining a Power Five conference – going to the Big 12 next season – but there’s way too much talent, way too much experience, and way too many big opportunities for this year to be anything less than special.

The Cougars were a thrilling loss to Coastal Carolina away from going unbeaten in 2020, and last year they won the “Pac-12 Championship” with victories over Utah, Arizona State, Utah, Washington State, and USC in a fun ten-win campaign.

Now it’s time for the program to prove it can take things up a few notches.

Yeah, all those wins over Pac-12 teams were great, and rolling to a 66-49 victory over Virginia was fun, and taking down Mountain West champ Utah State was terrific …

So how does that team lose a bowl game to a good-but-not-killer UAB?

There were a slew of injuries that didn’t help in the midseason losses to Boise State and Baylor, but this time around there’s more depth, more options, and more talent to make a huge splash before the big move.

There isn’t a conference championship to play for, and there isn’t a date against Utah to use as a chest-thumping moment, but the team and schedule are strong enough to push for a New Year’s Six bowl.

21 wins over the last two seasons was a whole lot of fun.

Now it’s time for BYU to expect more.

BYU Cougars Preview 2022: Offense

The offense wasn’t always explosive, but it was efficient. It wasn’t always consistent, but it was great at moving the chains and keeping the big mistakes to a minimum. It wasn’t always clutch, but it finished the year 17th in the nation overall and 29th in scoring.

And now it’s loaded.

The offensive line might be among the best ever if the tackles play up to the hype. The combination of tackle Blake Freeland and guard Blake Barrington on the left side should be dominant – BYU was among the best teams in the nation in pass protection. The best of the bunch though might be Oregon transfer Kingsley Suamataia – he’s a future NFL starter who’ll work at right tackle for now.

The strong front five doesn’t have Tyler Allgeier to block for anymore, but the running game will be more than fine. Cal transfer Christopher Brooks will be an instant fit, and 215-pound veteran Lopina Katoa can add some work. Also able to add to the running game …

QB Jaren Hall is on the verge of being special. He’s not Zach Wilson, but he’s improving as a passer – throwing for 2,583 yards and 20 touchdowns with five picks – and he’s great on the move. Now he has to stay healthy with backup Baylor Romney leaving football to start his real job career.

Gunner Romney, though, is back along with Puka Nacua to form a deadly 1-2 punch. Those two combined for close to 1,400 yards and nine touchdowns, and they’re not alone. It’s a deep corps, and tight ends Isaac Rex and Dallin Holker can catch.

The offense will be great, and now …

BYU Cougars Preview 2022: Defense

The defense has to be better. It has the talent, and it has the experience, but the D that allowed 388 yards and 25 points per game needs to generate more of a pass rush and has to be far tougher against the run.

There weren’t too many issues overall. Virginia and Baylor were the only two teams to hit the 500-yard mark, and Baylor beat the Cavaliers. There weren’t too many problems with everyone else, but …

Again, the defense needs to be better, and it will be. It starts with getting healthy parts back to what should be a loaded linebacking corps. Payton Wilgar and Keenan Pili return after getting hurt – they should combine for well over 100 tackles.

Combine them with 2021’s leading tackler Ben Bywater and with second-leading tackler Max Tooley playing a hybrid role, and look out.

Now the pass rush has to be there. The Cougars only generated 20 sacks and 64 tackles for loss, and just three players registered more than 1.5 sacks – Tyler Batty is back after leading the way with only 3.5 sacks. However, there’s size, depth, and there should be a solid rotation for the 4-2-5 alignment.

The secondary did a good job despite the lack of a pass rush. The corner tandem of Kaleb Hayes and D’Angelo Mandell is experienced and outstanding, and the safeties are diverse and versatile. There are a whole lot of ways to play around with the deep lineup.

Keys To The Season | Season Prediction, What Will Happen
BYU Top 10 Players | BYU Schedule

BYU Cougars: Keys To The Season, Top Game, Top Transfer, Fun Stats NEXT

BYU Cougars: Keys To The Season, Top Game, Top Transfer, Fun Stats

BYU Cougars: Key To The 2022 Offense

Keep getting out to hot starts.

That’s easier said than done, but there were games when the Cougars came out, ripped off a few big scoring drives, and everything fell into place form there.

It would’ve been nice at times to keep the momentum going, but there’s no complaining with 262 first half points – the Cougars outscored teams 114-50 in the first quarter.

All that in the previous section about the defense needing to be better is true – it had problems in the second quarters – but the stats are a tad misleading. Teams had to bomb away and crank things up to get in games. As long as BYU can keep setting the tone early, everything will be fine.

BYU Cougars: Key To The 2022 Defense

Stop teams on third downs.

Two issues go hand-in-hand here. There wasn’t much of a pass rush – there was a rough run of five sacks in eight games over the second half of the year – and there wasn’t much happening on third downs.

The time of possession battle wasn’t that big a deal, but it hurt when the D just couldn’t get off the field.

UAB converted third down after third down – hitting at a 65% clip – in the bowl win. Washington State lost, but it connected on 64% of its tries, and every FBS team on the slate over the last ten games converted 40% or more of their chances.

The 43% of third down tries allowed were the most by any BYU team in over a decade.

BYU Cougars: Key Player To The 2022 Season

OG Campbell Barrington, Soph.
There isn’t that much of a concern on the offensive line that should be fantastic thanks to the left side and big Connor Pay at center, but it would be a big help if Barrington settled in at right guard after working at times at right tackle.

He got six starts last year, and there are other options, but if he’s great, there’s no need for any shuffling or reworking the front five because …

BYU Cougars: Key Transfer

RB Christopher Brooks, Sr.
Okay, okay, the real transfer star of the bunch is Oregon OT Kingsley Suamataia, a 5-star talent who could’ve been a starting tackle this year for any team in the country – that includes Alabama, Georgia, and Ohio State.

However, it’s Brooks who has to play the big role to take over for Tyler Allgeier and become the lead back for the attack that needs one. There will be a rotation at times, but Brooks will push for well past 1,500 yards if all goes right with the offense.

BYU Key Game To The 2022 Season

Baylor, Sept. 10
Oh sure, going to Oregon will be big, hosting Arkansas will be a moment, and dealing with Notre Dame in Las Vegas will be entertaining, but Baylor is the big hairy deal as 1) the first big game of the season and 2) to make a statement for next year.

Baylor is fantastic. It should be almost as good as the 2021 version that won the Big 12 Championship, and now it’s up to BYU to flex and tell the guys in the new league that it’s on next year.

It’s the only game on the slate against a Big 12 team, and with a trip to Oregon to follow, it might be a must win to avoid a possible 1-2 start.

BYU Cougars: 2021 Fun Stats

– Interceptions Thrown: Opponents 15 – BYU 5
– 1st Quarter Scoring: BYU 114 – Opponents 50
– 3rd Quarter Scoring: Opponents 84 – BYU 70

O, D Breakdown | Season Prediction, What Will Happen
BYU Top 10 Players | BYU Schedule

BYU Cougars Season Prediction, What Will Happen NEXT

BYU Cougars Season Prediction, What Will Happen

Can BYU really keep rolling over the Power Five programs on the slate?

Last year’s team went 6-1 against the teams from the big leagues – and lost to two Group of Five teams that didn’t win their respective conferences – and this year it gets just five games against Power Five programs.

Throw in that this BYU team might be much, much better than the one that took down ten games last year, and this regular season win total setting is probably laughably low …

Set The BYU Cougars Regular Season Win Total At … 8.5

BYU can absolutely beat anyone and everyone on its slate, but it’ll probably be the underdog against Notre Dame in Vegas, and it probably won’t be favored at Oregon. However, watch out, Baylor and Arkansas – that trip to Provo is a problem.

However, like last year with the loss to Boise State and in the bowl against UAB, there might be a misfire or two thrown in there.

Going to Liberty might be dangerous, going to Boise State is frightening, and East Carolina and Stanford will be tougher outs than it might seem.

Even so, BYU isn’t losing more than four games.

It might not lose more than one.

BYU Offense, Defense Breakdown | Keys To The Season
BYU Top 10 Players | BYU Schedule

2022 College Football Schedules: All 131 Teams