BYU's first season as an independent went well, with the Cougars going 10-3 and winning a bowl game. This spring will be about keeping that momentum.
BYU returns 13 starters, with a nice mix of skill-position talent and linemen returning. The biggest potential trouble spot appears to be the secondary, which lost two starters.
[ Related: Indepdendent spring football preview ]
Coach: Bronco Mendenhall (8th season)
Last season: 10-3 overall
Spring practice dates: March 5-March 30
(minimum 7 starts last season)
Offense (6): T Braden Brown, G Braden Hansen, TE Austin Holt, WR Cody Hoffman, QB Riley Nelson, G Houston Reynolds
Defense (7): T Romney Fuga, CB Preston Hadley, LB Uona Kaveinga, E Eathyn Manumaleuna, LB Brandon Ogletree, SS Daniel Sorensen, LB Kyle Van Noy
Special teams (2): K Justin Sorenson, P Riley Stephenson
The Cougars are looking for a new starting corner and a new free safety, but the rebuilt secondary will be helped by what should be a stout front seven. BYU runs a 3-4 defense, and the Cougars have to replace a starting end and a starting linebacker.
Building depth at linebacker is another spring key. Big-play 'backer Kyle Van Noy will miss the spring because he is rehabbing a shoulder injury, which will give some young players the chance to get more practice reps.
Offensively, finding a new feature back looks to be the most important task. It looks as if it will be a three-man battle, and given the way BYU utilizes its backs, all three likely would see time in the fall.
One positive could be the return of WR O'Neill Chambers, a starter in 2010 who was suspended and missed all of last season. BYU lost starting WR McKay Jacobson to graduation, and Chambers has the ability to be a top-flight deep threat. BYU looks fine at receiver, anyway, but Chambers' return would make the position that much stronger – and also likely would please QB Riley Nelson, who began last season as the second-stringer but eventually won the starting job.
Developing depth behind Nelson will be a key this spring, too.
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