5 Burning Questions for BYU Football in 2012

There have been a lot of little snippets of different football-related items that are BYU relevant and I’ve wanted to put my two cents to them on paper, so here we go.  I give you, the academically ineligible 5 Burning Question for BYU Football in 2012.

Conference affiliation vs. Independence

In posts past, I have discussed my feelings on affiliation and the division it endless seems to create amongst BYU fans.  I don’t want to spend a lot of time rehashing this.  I do want to offer my take as it relates to the recent BCS news regarding the inclusion of the 4-team playoff and the supposed doing away of the automatic qualifier (AQ) moniker.  BYU has and will continue to have a difficult road ahead if it ever wants to play in a BCS game or even the national championship game.  Nothing more than one loss will ever allow BYU into a prestigious game.  Inclusion in a BCS-caliber league will not allow it.  The only shot they ever had at mediocrity being good enough was standing with the lousiness that is the Big East, but imagine BYU made a BCS game with 3 or 4 losses.  Could you honestly look at your Utah neighbor in the eyes and tell him that you were the same – I couldn’t.  Inclusion in the Big 12 or the PAC 12 will not allow for a team with more than one loss to play in the biggest of games and certainly never in a National Championship game.  So if “status” is what you are looking for, that alone isn’t worth it.

Does BYU need to get into a major conference this year or soon?  I don’t think so.  Like Greg Wrubell wrote about, BYU can, and should continue “Boldly Independent” as long as there is not such a better offer on the table.  I’ve had the MTN in the past so access to games was never an issue for me, but I sure preferred the ESPN and BYUtv access.  I watched more basketball games this season than ever before.  And I liked the WCC.

I’m not in a hurry.

Bronco’s Drafting Issues

The NFL draft came and went last week and even with all the anticipation, did you really watch a lot of it?  The only thing to really note (other than I feel my Cowboys had a great draft) is the noticeable absence of former BYU players taken amongst the 253 players in the draft.  Really?  BYU didn’t have one player in the “top 253”?  I have seen a lot of people take umbrage with this and blame it on Bronco, but is that really his fault?  His recruiting base is a bunch of kids whose primary focus (for many) in this plan is to get an education and start a family first and then football.  And lets face it, Matt Reynolds didn’t exactly do anything last year to substantiate his draft position (unless you count the helmet-less hit in the Armed Forces Bowl, which was awesome.)  Loni Fangupo was only in Provo for a year and prior to that was underutilized in SoCal.  And given the issues the offensive line had last season to start, can you really get upset that Terrence Brown didn’t get drafted?  And really, who would have expected disappointing McKay Jacobsen to get drafted?  The fact that he got a free agent deal boggles my mind.

If you want to get concerned here, hold your breath.  This year’s seniors include Braden Brown, Romney Fuga, Uona Kaveinga, Riley Nelson, Brandon Ogletree, Joe Sampson, and James Lark.  Do any of them strike you as play on Sunday guys?  Maybe Brown, Fuga, and Kaveinga.  Our juniors who could declare after this season include Michael Alisa, Cody Hoffman, Josh Quezada, and Kyle Van Noy.  You could throw Ross Apo on that list as he is a redshirt sophomore.  I’d be surprised if any but Hoffman and Van Noy declared.  What I’m getting at here paranoid BYU fan is be patient.  If BYU gets shut out in the next few drafts, then BYU might need to worry.  But ask yourself this question: are you really watching and cheering on these next level players or is it just jealousy that Star Lotulelei is projected to be a sure-fire first rounder next season?  If you are just jealous, then don’t get too upset; you can’t complain about 10 win seasons in 6 of 7 years.

Will BYU Win 8 Games or 11?

Looking quickly at BYU’s 2012 schedule, you can ink in wins in the following contests: Weber State, Hawaii, Idaho, San Jose State, and New Mexico State.  You can pencil in Washington State, Utah State, and probably Oregon State.  The toss-up games are all away from Provo in Salt Lake, Boise, South Bend, and Atlanta.  So if you are keep track, BYU should easily win 5 games.  Washington State will be learning a new system on the road for the first week and Oregon State has been bad and if they continue to be so, that should be two more wins.  Utah State has historically been an inked in win, but the past two seasons make this different.  The Aggies now feel they belong and can compete with the Cougars, but with continuity on their side and a brash leader in Riley Nelson, I’ll give them another win.  That brings us to 8 wins.  So, how does it break down for the two tough back-to-back road games for the Cougars?

I believe BYU will get back a little of its butt that it handed to Utah last season and win in SL.  If they can stay focused and prepared, they can beat a newly retooled Boise State.  I’d like to predict a win in South Bend, but I can’t and likewise, I think the complex option at Georgia Tech will provide fits.  I’m reserving the right to change any of these predictions as the season and each game approaches, but for now, I have BYU at 10-2 with a bowl game looming.

So what’s the key to the difference of winning 8 games and 11 games?  In my opinion, not a lot.  The ground game must get going early in the season to allow Riley to develop into a pocket quarterback.  He must be accurate and decisive.  And the defense has to be nasty like it was last season (I think it will be better.)

What needs to happen for 2012 to be considered successful?

Does anyone else feel like 10 wins last season wasn’t “successful”?  I know I did.  Call me spoiled, but it just felt like a colossal failure.  Maybe it was the glaring absence of a meaningful win.  Maybe it was 54-10.  Maybe it was the Jake Heaps/Riley Nelson or the Team Indy/Team Big 12 debates.  Something wasn’t right about last season and 10 wins felt like a letdown.  So how does Bronco avoid a 10-win let down?

For one there are four “big” games this season (all on the road.)  Assuming BYU goes undefeated at home and wins at San Jose State and New Mexico State, BYU has 8 wins.  A split of the four games would be 10 wins pending a bowl game.  Is that good enough to feel successful?  If a Utah win is part of that split, I think fans will be content and border on happy if the other is Notre Dame or Boise State.  Getting three wins in four seems possible in my opinion and pending the bowl game, it would be a successful season.

Bottom line, BYU has to win at home, pick up the two “gimme” games on the road, and at least split the big four plus add a bowl game to be considered successful.

Is this schedule strong enough to earn a BCS berth?

It is, but only if the table gets run or the one loss happens to Utah, Notre Dame, or Georgia Tech (and that school will also have to have an incredibly “successful” season to boot.  I don’t know that BYU has built the sustainability yet to be a one loss BCS invitee yet, so I’d say this team needs to win them all and they will be bowling in January in a very warm location.

What do you think Cougar Nation?  Am I up in the night.  Sound off!  I want to hear it.

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