BYU Football: 4 Things We Learned About the Cougars This Spring
College football is a year-round process. Although games begin and end in the fall, the other three seasons are just as important for preparation.
BYU has put spring in the rear-view mirror and is weeks closer to the opener at UConn. If March and April practices are any indicator, it could be a great season for the Cougars.
It will be months before we see the Cougs kick off the 2014 season, but here are four things we learned during spring.
The Passing Game Will Be Improved
BYU's rushing offense was outstanding in 2013, but the passing game never reached that level. Although we may not see night-and-day changes, it is safe to say the passing offense will be improved.
Taysom Hill will return at quarterback, and the Cougars will add several transfer receivers, including Nick Kurtz (Grossmont CC), Keanu Nelson (Stanford) and Jordan Leslie (UTEP). Also, the offensive line has made positive changes over the last few months.
In the end, BYU shouldn't expect to have the nation's best passing offense this fall. But there will definitely be improvement, and who knows, Hill and Co. may surprise us.
Jamaal Williams Has Gained Mendenhall's Trust
To put it simply, this spring has been a roller coaster for Jamaal Williams. He entered practices as BYU's top running back, but midway through March, he was charged for underage drinking. Williams pleaded not guilty, and continued through camp. After the conclusion, he joined the Cougar track team.
If anything can be assumed from these events, it's that Bronco Mendenhall has a serious amount of trust in Williams. If a player is in legal trouble, most coaches wouldn't let him participate in practices - much less join an additional team.
Hopefully this level of trust will translate onto the field, and we will see more big plays from Williams.
Transfers Will Play a Huge Role
Although many of the players transferring to BYU this fall did not participate in spring practices, there is no doubt that they will play a big role for the Cougars. Harvey Jackson (Nebraska) will definitely add depth to the secondary, as will Keanu Nelson (Stanford), Jordan Leslie (UTEP) and Devon Blackmon (Riverside City CC) to the receiving corps.
Nick Kurtz (Grossmont CC) has already made a splash at BYU and was one of Taysom Hill's favorite targets throughout spring. With four transfer wideouts on the roster this season, the offense will have plenty of options. Jackson may also become a key player in the secondary.
The Secondary Could Be One of FBS's Best
BYU's defensive backs have incredible potential. With several players returning, there is more depth in this group than the Cougars have seen in a long time.
Robertson Daniel and Craig Bills will anchor the secondary from the two safety spots and have Chris Badger, Isaiah Nacua, Dallin Leavitt and Harvey Jackson as probable backups. If Jordan Johnson and Trent Trammell can make full recoveries from knee injuries, they will likely start as cornerbacks. Skye PoVey, Sam Lee and Trevor Bateman headline the list of potential second-string corners.
Even Kelly Poppinga, BYU's outside linebackers coach, can see the potential, per Jeff Call of the Deseret News, "Our DBs are deeper than they’ve ever been, with really good players...we'll be really good."