Bear in mind the “Quest for Perfection”?
That was one of the many slogans that former BYU football coach Bronco Mendenhall got here up with to border an upcoming soccer season for the Cougars, and perhaps the mantra most panned by the media all through the profitable coach’s tenure in Provo.
BYU’s soccer group has not but assigned a theme to this yr’s season, in response to defensive lineman Uriah “Lopa” Leiataua, after the Cougars adopted the “Love One Another” attitude final yr in response to social unrest occurring throughout the nation.
So right here’s our suggestion: “Quest for Validation.”
Why? As a result of the 2021 season will both validate what the Cougars were able to accomplish last year when they went 11-1 and finished No. 11 in the country in opposition to a laughably weak schedule not of their very own selecting, or tear that success asunder.
Has BYU turned the nook and returned to being a perennial top-25 program, or was 2020 a one-off product of a suspect schedule and little else?
Even when no one related to the group needs to say as a lot, that’s what the 2021 season — which begins Saturday in Las Vegas with an ESPN-televised game against Arizona — is all about. It’s arguably crucial season in coach Kalani Sitake’s six-year tenure when it comes to how BYU is seen nationally.
Had been the Cougars a one-hit surprise, or a program about to hit its stride?
For his or her half, BYU’s coaches aren’t shopping for into the necessity for validation, apart from utilizing what outsiders say about final yr as a approach to hold their gamers hungry and motivated.
“I don’t assume there’s something to show from final yr,” Sitake stated Monday. “We’ve got moved on to this yr already, and guys are simply specializing in making an attempt to carry out at their finest in opposition to Arizona. That’s the main focus.”
There’s little doubt, although, that the returning gamers have heard the whispers. They know what’s at stake, even when greater than 15 strong contributors from the Zach Wilson-led magical season have departed.
“You recognize, we’re not, like, Amish folks,” Leiataua stated. “We learn the web and stuff. … The defensive position will get actually insulted by some of these items. I feel all of us are simply itching to get on the market. We’re prepared.”
Added operating again Tyler Allgeier: “Listening to that (final yr was a fluke) is nice for motivation. Clearly, we misplaced plenty of key gamers, however I feel we’ve got the items to the puzzle and we shall be prepared for the season. … Actually, I feel plenty of guys have a chip on their shoulder.”
First-year offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick agrees with Sitake — that this can be a totally different yr, a unique group, and it ought to be judged by itself deserves — however he has repeatedly acknowledged since spring camp started final March that nothing wanting one other excellent season will quiet the naysayers.
“I simply hold reminding our gamers that lots of people say that stuff doesn’t rely,” Roderick stated on his “Coordinators’ Corner” program Monday. “I’ll nonetheless argue that that schedule was as tough as something the (BYU) groups within the ’80s and ’90s performed. However our gamers have been listening to for a full yr that it didn’t rely. Now we get to go show it. And if we are able to go show one thing like that in opposition to this schedule, we are able to say for certain that we achieved one thing.”
The massive query turns into this: Is that this BYU group, breaking in a brand new quarterback, a pair new offensive linemen, and an inexperienced protection on the entrance (defensive position) and again ends (safeties) able to flourishing in opposition to a schedule that features seven Energy 5 applications and Boise State?
Sitake says it’s, though he would by no means throw out a win whole that might be passable to him and BYU’s fan base. A disciple of the late LaVell Edwards, that’s simply not his manner. The phrases “quest for perfection” would by no means cross his lips.
“I imply, I actually like our depth,” Sitake stated. “I like what we’ve got seen by means of fall camp, the chemistry on our group, the connection they’ve to one another and in addition to the fan base. My expectations are for my guys to carry out at their finest.”
The most important trigger for concern for BYU in 2021 — apart from the truth that the schedule is 10 instances tougher — is a defense that returns only four starters. Certain, there are some guys again from harm who performed loads in 2019, however the Cougars’ protection wasn’t all that nice that yr, particularly defending the run.
Like Leiataua, defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki isn’t shopping for the notion that there shall be a major drop-off.
“I sleep rather well,” Tuiaki stated Monday, when requested what’s maintaining him awake at evening. “I really feel actually good concerning the personnel. And the teaching workers that I’ve bought has completed an incredible job prepping the youngsters. … We’ve got plenty of items to fill with the youngsters that left for the NFL, however we do really feel fairly good concerning the items in place.”
Having given up simply 15.3 factors per recreation in 2020, No. 4 within the nation in factors allowed, BYU moderately received’t come near that determine this yr. However Tuiaki stated that’s the stat that issues most.
“That’s the one stat that’s going to have an effect on the sport greater than the rest,” he stated. “Clearly, all the things else is essential. However all the things has bought to be about maintaining factors off the board.”
Offensively, the one questions are with the offensive line, which is changing three starters.
Having been named Wilson’s successor last week as the Cougars’ starting quarterback, Jaren Corridor stated all of the items are in place to have one other massive scoring yr. He’s not Wilson, however he’s proven he can ship wins if he can keep wholesome.
“The factor that has me assured is how we got here collectively towards the top (of camp) as an offense,” stated receiver Gunner Romney, considered one of 4 or 5 receivers on the roster with NFL functionality. “Beginning final week, the offense discovered its groove a bit of bit, and we’ve got been getting higher and higher each single day. That’s what provides me plenty of confidence.”
Special teams might be BYU’s biggest strength, as redshirt sophomore kicker Jake Oldroyd and redshirt freshman punter Ryan Rehkow kind one of many high kicker-punter mixtures within the nation.
In a nutshell, that’s sums up the Cougars’ outlook: Stable offense, barely suspect protection, veteran teaching (with the additions of OL coach Darrell Funk and LBs coach Kevin Clune) and excellent specialists.
Predicting every recreation on the schedule
What sort of season will it produce?
The Deseret Information is predicting a 7-5 report for the Cougars, with wins over Arizona, South Florida, Utah State, Boise State, Virginia, Idaho State and Georgia Southern and losses to Utah, Arizona State, Baylor, Washington State and USC.
Right here’s a game-by-game have a look at how we see the season unfolding, with last rating predictions:
Saturday, vs. Arizona (in Las Vegas): BYU fired out of the gates in spectacular vogue final yr, blitzing Navy 55-3 in Annapolis to serve discover that it was getting ready to an exceptional season. Arizona is clearly rebuilding after final yr’s 0-5 catastrophe that ended with the firing of coach Kevin Sumlin, however the Wildcats certainly shall be extra bodily prepared than the Midshipmen have been. New coach Jedd Fisch has seen to that, and Arizona is seeking to snap its 12-game shedding skid.
Can the Wildcats pull off the upset in Allegiant Stadium, the place BYU is predicted to have a 4-1 benefit in followers? After all. Arizona has Pac-12 expertise, plus fairly just a few transfers from Energy 5 faculties. We’ve bought a hunch this one shall be nearer than most BYU followers count on.
Prediction: BYU 28, Arizona 24
Sept. 11, vs. Utah: Let’s face it — final yr was most likely BYU’s finest probability of ending Utah’s nine-game stranglehold on the rivalry recreation. No recreation was performed, nevertheless, as a result of Pac-12 telling the Utes they couldn’t play till November.
Utah, which opened in opposition to Weber State on Thursday, has a pair further days to arrange for the Cougars. Absolutely, coach Kyle Whittingham will use them. He might have downplayed the rivalry final month on the Pac-12 media day, however relaxation assured the previous Cougar could have his troops able to win once more in Provo. With Baylor transfer Charlie Brewer having won the quarterback competition, Utah seems to have all of the items wanted to make a run on the Rose Bowl. The Utes look that good.
Prediction: Utah 21, BYU 13
Sept. 18, vs. Arizona State: The Solar Devils, a former WAC foe, are making their first go to to BYU since 1998, after they have been defeated 26-6 in Provo regardless of a No. 14 nationwide rating. This system is underneath NCAA scrutiny for alleged recruiting and different violations, and three coaches are on administrative go away due to it.
However embattled coach Herm Edwards’ roster is extraordinarily proficient, and a few consider ASU has its finest group in years. Quarterback Jayden Daniels may very well be the most effective QB BYU sees all season, together with the aforementioned Brewer.
Prediction: Arizona State 35, BYU 31
Sept. 25, vs. South Florida: Jaren Corridor’s first profession begin at quarterback got here in 2019 in Tampa, Florida, and the Cougars misplaced 27-23 to the Bulls in a recreation that marked the low level of the season. South Florida returns the sport in late September, having gone winless in 2020 in opposition to groups from the Soccer Bowl Subdivision.
The Cougars fairly seemingly shall be seeking to get again on the profitable monitor of their third-straight dwelling recreation, after taking part in anticipated Pac-12 contenders the earlier two weeks. The Bulls have some offensive firepower, together with QB Cade Fortin, however received’t discover the cross-country journey a simple one.
Prediction: BYU 41, South Florida 17
Oct. 1, at Utah State: BYU claimed The Battle for the Previous Wagon Wheel with a 42-14 win in Logan two years in the past, and bought to maintain considered one of school soccer’s higher rivalry trophies final yr as a result of pandemic. The ninetieth assembly comes on The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ common convention weekend, and once more in Logan regardless of the Aggies attending to play the host within the earlier matchup.
Blake Anderson was brought in from Arkansas State to rescue a program that went 1-5 in 2020 and noticed coach Gary Andersen changed three video games into season. As of Tuesday, the Aggies had not named their beginning quarterback for his or her opener Saturday at Washington State.
Prediction: BYU 30, Utah State 21
Oct. 9, vs. Boise State: BYU has by no means received three straight video games in opposition to the Broncos, however this is likely to be the yr that occurs. Or possibly not. Boise State has revenge on its thoughts, after getting pummeled by itself blue turf final yr 51-17 in a recreation that was canceled by the pandemic, then put again on the schedule.
Former Bronco Andy Avalos changed Auburn-bound Bryan Harsin on the helm, and does inherit some expertise, significantly on the quarterback place the place Hank Bachmeier beat out USC switch Jack Sears for the beginning spot.
Prediction: BYU 27, Boise State 23
Oct. 16, at Baylor: Loads of storylines on this one, as BYU leaves the state of Utah for the primary time for the reason that opener vs. Arizona and meets the brand new college of former offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes and offensive line coach Eric Mateos.
Will the Large 12 be watching? Or will BYU already be headed to that league, after Texas and Oklahoma introduced they have been bolting and the Large 12 started the enlargement course of?
The religion-based establishments match up for the primary time since 1984, a 47-13 BYU win in Provo en path to the nationwide championship.
Prediction: Baylor 35, BYU 24
Oct. 23, at Washington State: Exhausting to consider that BYU has by no means performed in Pullman, Washington, however that would be the case within the fifth assembly between the crimson and blue Cougars. Three video games have been performed in Provo, and one within the Vacation Bowl, a 38-36 BYU win in 1981.
Wazzu is led by controversial coach Nick Rolovich, who has made headlines this summer season for his refusal to get the COVID-19 vaccine. After the state of Washington mandated the shot for all of its increased training staff, Rolovich stated he would do it.
Regardless, this figures to be a stiff check for BYU, per week after touring to Texas for the emotional recreation in opposition to Baylor.
Prediction: Washington State 38, BYU 34
Oct. 30, vs. Virginia: Word is that Mendenhall wanted out of this game when he took the head job at Virginia in December 2015, however the Cougars insisted or not it’s performed.
Regardless of the case, it ought to be an emotional day-before-Halloween showdown in Provo, and never simply due to Mendenhall’s return. He went 99-43 in 11 seasons at BYU.
Lots of Mendenhall’s assistants at UVA have been with him in Provo, and the returns of Robert Anae, Nick Howell, Kelly Poppinga and the remaining will make this matchup even juicier, particularly if each groups are having profitable seasons.
Anyone up for a slogan? How about extra time?
Prediction: BYU 31, Virginia 30 (OT)
Nov. 6, vs. Idaho State: The Bengals went 2-4 final season (which was truly performed final spring) however have been in most of their video games within the fourth quarter.
They are going to make the journey from Pocatello to select up a pleasant paycheck in alternate for enjoying the position of a breather on BYU’s largely tough 2021 schedule.
The Cougars are 6-0 all-time in opposition to ISU, together with a 42-10 win in 2019.
Prediction: BYU 50, Idaho State 14
Nov. 20: at Georgia Southern: The Cougars make solely their fourth journey ever to the state of Georgia to play a soccer recreation, having met Georgia Tech twice in Atlanta and Georgia as soon as in Athens.
This would be the first recreation ever between the Cougars and the Eagles of the Solar Belt Convention. The Cougars shall be coming off a bye, however can’t afford to take the Eagles frivolously. Georgia Southern has compiled three straight profitable seasons.
Prediction: BYU 39, Georgia Southern 27
Nov. 27, at Southern Cal: BYU returns to the famed Coliseum for the primary time since 2003, when it attracted so many Cougar followers to Los Angeles that then-USC athletic director Mike Garrett requested not-yet BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe the place they have been all coming from.
After all, USC visited BYU in 2019 and went dwelling with a 30-27 extra time loss as Zach Wilson directed the Cougars to their second straight upset win over a Energy 5 opponent.
Loads of intrigue ought to accompany this late-season, nonconference matchup. Will the Trojans be preparing for the Pac-12 championship recreation the next week? Will the Cougars already be bowl sure, or want a win to wrap up a visit to Shreveport, Louisiana?
Prediction: USC 41, BYU 21
#video games #BYU #win #Predicting #soccer #season