Carl: It’s especially difficult to really know how the offensive line compares to other name brand schools without having a quality opponent on the other side. Not saying BYU’s defense is bad; I’m just saying this is spring practice. Health and depth are the most tangible elements to equate currently. Reynolds is still questionable, although I’m on the doubtful side of him returning. Beyond that, the young line will have a steep learning curve of Anae’s offense. In my opinion, the positive with Anae’s offense is it will put a little less pressure on the line because of its quick nature.
Matt: I was reading earlier that Anae named Andrew George as a graduate assistant and assigned to work with the tight ends. That frees Anae up to help with the line play (among other benefits.) Offensive line play was a hallmark in his first run in Provo and teaming with Garett Tujague will only bring more harmony and consistency to a unit plagued with injuries and inconsistency the past three seasons.
So what do I expect from this unit? I expect harmony and consistency. I expect them to get mean and nasty. I expect them to hold against the defensive line and do their job – namely to protect the quarterback, open running lanes for the running back, and wear down the defensive line as the game progresses. With Blair Tushaus leaving the program, I think we get an indicator of things to come in this unit; namely big guys who will get back to the days of 6-4 and 320 lbs averages who will bully opponents into submission. Tushaus may have had personal reasons beyond football for leaving (I’m not stating anything one way or the other) but the fact that the Cougars recruited and signed two new centers this past signing day (one freshmen and one JUCO) tells me he saw the writing on the wall and left to pursue other opportunities and I wish him well.
Mike: I read some interesting things about Mark Weber last year. His resume is solid but the effort, scheme and athletes in recent years has been glaringly average. BYU’s offensive line went through significant injuries last season, but blaming injuries on football woes is equivalent to blaming the weather. I’ve always believed you can tell how well a team is coached by watching the offensive and defensive lines play. Both take discipline and a certain mind frame to do well. Watching Robert Anae make the offensive line his top priority upon being named Offensive Coordinator is significant. Coach Garrett Tujague brings a fresh perspective to BYU. He’s a seasoned coach who finally gets his shot at a D1 school. Recruits D’Ondre Wesley, Josh Carter, Tim Duran, Edward Fusi and four-star recruit Brayden Kearsley bring talented fresh blood into Tujague’s scheme. The issue still remains on whether Coach Tujague can build a cold-blooded offensive line between now and the Virginia opener.
Scott: The offensive line is the unit I expect to see the most improvement from (if not the quarterback). If we look at the new faces on the 2013 team, we see a huge emphasis was put on the offensive line – and rightly so. Look at the coaching changes: Robert Anae (former offensive lineman), Garett Tujague (former offensive lineman), and student assistant Famika Anae (former offensive lineman). Also, the mere fact that Blair Tushaus, a starter from last year’s team, is transferring speaks volumes about where this unit will be in 2013 compared to what was acceptable in 2012. I expect them to be held accountable for their performance, causing a significant improvement.
Carl: They’ll get an NIT bid, but a 1st round win is anything but guaranteed. A win will depend on the eventual matchup. For underachievement, I think they had higher expectations for themselves; certainly they wanted to be in March Madness. But I don’t consider this a major disappointment. They never recovered emotionally from the Dellavadagger. PERIOD! But how many wins were realistic before the season? 25? Its 4 (quality wins) short. Calculated by percentages, that’s 20% more wins. I’d argue that BYU’s 2012 football team underachieved by more than 20%.
Matt: To answer the first question, they’ll play in the NIT and probably on the road. Which means . . . one more game and we can tie a bow on the 2012-13 season for the Cougs.
As to the second question, I don’t consider this an underachievement this season. No, I’m not writing this through blue-colored goggles, so let me explain. First, when this season was getting started, Dave Rose expected to have Stephen Rodgers and Chris Collinsworth on the roster. That is one more talented wing player and another big to help Brandon Davies. Both withdrew from the team early into training camp and it was too late to replace them. Talent and depth took a hit. Second, Augustin Ambrosino and Raul Delgado were both JUCO transfers who had succeeded at the previous level and were expected to fill roles immediately. And neither did. Both played sparingly and never really turned into anything. Third, because of the trouble with Ambrosino, the missing Collinsworth, and the head-scratching play of Nate Austin, Rose had to bring in a football player just to add depth and size to the team. Not that Bronson Kaufusi was a bad player; it just shows you just how desperate Rose became. And lastly, Matt Carlino. We’ve talked about him ad nauseum on this blog so I won’t do it again, but let me just say, Matt Carlino.
To sum it all up, to underachieve, Rose would have needed all this at his disposal and then still ended with 21 or fewer wins. But he didn’t. He lost players late, some players underachieved, but Rose’s team I would not qualify as underachieving.
Mike: Reading that BYU could now get a road NIT game…Ouch. I watched Dave Rose defend his ’12-’13 season last night on KSL. A 21 win season, Big win vs. Utah, a 21 win season, a win vs. the second to last place ACC doormat Virginia Tech, a 21 win season, Cusick’s last second game-winning shot and finally a 21 win season. BYU’s 21 win season included only 5 wins vs. 20+ win teams. (Santa Clara twice, Utah St, Weber St and Montana) 15 of the 21 wins came against teams with losing records. BYU’s best wins came against Santa Clara and Utah St who rank 85th and 103rd in the latest BPI. I really like Dave Rose but given BYU had two players named 1st team All-Conference, I’m having a hard time thinking of a more underachieving BYU basketball team or a worse 21 win team.
Scott: To think that BYU is going anywhere other than the NIT is either incredibly pessimistic or incredibly blue-goggled. It’s hard not to think this year was a huge underachievement. We had Haws and Davies, the recipients of several accolades this year. You’d think that would be enough to get to the NCAA Tournament. We just weren’t able to get consistent play from anyone else. I think Matt Carlino is a great talent, and he is learning and improving, but he just didn’t have the consistency to take us to the Dance. I definitely had higher expectations than the actual 2012-2013 results, but how much underachievement is there in a 21-win season? Underachievement implies a high talent level to begin with, and outside of Haws, Carlino, and Davies, I’m not sure there was really a talent level that could actually underachieve.
In the “its never too early category” based upon all we know about BYU right now, what is/are your expectation(s) for next season’s basketball team in terms of wins, final West Coast Conference Standing, and will they get back to the Dance?
Carl: They’ll need a big man presence next year. If they develop Kaufusi, Sharp, or another, 25 wins is not out of the question. They’ll be hungry and motivated. I’ll guarantee March Madness and a second place finish in the WCC. In fact, BYU will finish 1 or 2 in the league through 2020. St. Mary’s has steep sanctions that begin next season and I don’t see any team, other than San Diego rising up any time soon. 2014 BYU 26-6, 2nd place WCC 14-2, March Madness 11 seed.
Matt: I’ll refrain from picking a record, but I think that with SMC’s sanctions, coupled with the loss of Dellavedova next season, it will be a two horse race in the West Coast Conference between BYU and Gonzaga. But the Cougs will need to find a few marquee wins and hold the home court or it won’t matter come Selection Sunday because they’ll get left out again.
Newcomers will make a difference, but they are newcomers to a team that already struggled this past season with chemistry. They will sorely miss Davies and unless a big man we’ve already seen takes it to a new level, it will be tough sledding in the middle. And not to sound disparaging, but I hope there is no room/need for Kaufusi next season. Its really hard to make any predictions right now. Ask me again after football is in full swing.
Mike: Wait until next year already? So difficult to tell what BYU will be next season. Zero Brandon Davies, a couple star Lone Peak top recruits, an older Matt Carlino. One has to hope Dave Rose will figure out this strange chemistry before next season. As long as BYU plays in the WCC they will scare 20 wins and be in the running for a conference championship. I’m hopeful we’ll see the season we wanted to see this year.
Scott: A huge part of our core was pretty young (in academic years, not in actual age). Tyler Haws, Matt Carlino, Anson Winder, Josh Sharp, and Nate Austin are all sophomores and will be juniors next season. I believe they will improve. Haws will be stronger, Carlino will play smarter, and Winder will be healthier. If Sharp can improve as much as he did from last year to this year, he should be a real addition to the team, but he and Nate Austin definitely need to bulk up a little.
We lose Brandon Davies, Craig Cusick, and Brock Zylstra, and, depending on who you talk to, some of those players are easily replaceable. Incoming freshman Eric Mika sure seems like the real deal, and he might be solid replacement for Davies, but I don’t think it is fair to Mika for fans to expect no drop off from Davies as a senior to Mika as a freshman. Additionally, BYU will also get Kyle “I was a solid contributor on a Sweet 16 team” Collinsworth back next year.
Without knowing what the 2013-2014 schedule looks like, I think BYU has the potential to get back to the NCAA Tournament and back to the 25-win mark. It will come down to how much improvement Dave Rose will get from his returning players, how Mika plays at the next level, and how quickly Collinsworth is able to get back into shape after finishing up his missionary service.