As the BYU football team begins fall camp Thursday here are the top five storylines:
1. It’s Riley Nelson’s team: What does this mean? Well you have to think as the leader BYU will play with passion and fire. The question is whether Nelson can harness his intensity and gambler ways for the good as opposed to the bad. There is no doubt he is a competitor but he has to stop making costly mistakes. He needs to know when to take a risk and when to just hold back. If he could figure this out he can definitely have an overall positive effect on the program.
2. Brandon Doman’s offensive identity: Last year in his first season as BYU offensive coordinator Doman struggled in determining what this offense was. Only after he yanked Jake Heaps and put in Nelson did he get more comfortable as a play-caller. Just so happens that’s when he decided to run the ball more. Doman still wants this offense to be pass first, run second. I still think it has to be the opposite–pound the ball with Michael Alisa which in turn will help open up the pass game allowing the weak armed Nelson to get the ball to playmaking wide receiver Cody Hoffman.
3. Depth: BYU’s starters can compete with most programs in the country. It’s when they have to go two and three deep that things start to get shaky. With Josh Quezada transferring, the running back ranks behind Alisa are suddenly thin. On the defensive side of the ball, return missionary’s Ian Dulan and Russell Tialavea will have to get up to speed quickly to help provide some depth to the line.
4. Stepping up the secondary: The Cougars lost a starting cornerback and a safety from last season. While Preston Hadley returns at corner several capable players with experience (Robbie Buckner, DeQuan Everett, Cameron Comer and even O’Neill Chambers) need to step up into the other spot. At strong safety stalwart Daniel Sorensen is back but Mike Hague, Joe Sampson or Craig Bills have to establish themselves in camp at the free safety position.
5. Independence–Year Two: Without a conference championship to play for the stated goal for the Cougars is to go undefeated. With the likelihood of that being slim can this team (and the fanbase for that matter) keep the focus and excitement throughout the season knowing that as long as they get six wins they’re bound to the Poinsettia Bowl? With a solid schedule I’m guessing yes as long as they have a winning record after their first eight before closing with the November cream puffs of Idaho, San Jose State and New Mexico State.