5 Things You May Have Missed About BYU Through Five Games
PROVO, Utah – Feels like just yesterday we were counting down the days to the 2019 BYU football season. Have you missed anything from the season so far? You probably have. That’s why I’m here.
Here are five things and stories you might have missed about the BYU football team through the first five games of the season.
1. Zach Wilson was on pace for nearly 3,500 yards
Before going down with a thumb injury that will sideline him for a period of time this season, Wilson was averaging 262.4 yards per game through the air. The pass per game total passing the football since Max Hall in 2009. The sophomore quarterback’s thumb injury hasn’t been deemed as a season-ending injury according to head coach Kalani Sitake. There is hope that he will return at some point in November.
2. Inexperienced linebackers becoming stars of the defense
Coming into the season, BYU’s linebackers, especially the insider backers, were a big question mark. Outside linebacker Isaiah Kaufusi said back in fall camp that he felt the inside linebackers by season’s end would become a strength of the Cougar defense. In terms of tackles, Kaufusi has been spot on with his prediction of the inside backers. Through five games, Kavika Fonua leads the BYU defense with 44 tackles on the season and not far behind Fonua is Payton Wilgar with 27 tackles and a pair of interceptions.
Then you go to BYU’s outside linebackers where Chaz Ah You and Max Tooley have already made big plays and shown signs of becoming future stars.
Now if BYU’s defense can stop the run and boost up their 119th ranked rush defense, folks will start to recognize the young budding stars in BYU’s linebacking unit.
3. Troy Warner and Chris Wilcox still recovering from injuries
You might be wondering to yourself, ‘where is Troy Warner and Chris Wilcox?’ Two senior standouts in BYU’s secondary have been recovering from injuries that have caused them to miss the first five games of this season.
Both players are expected to be headed for redshirts this season which would give them the opportunity to return for their senior seasons in 2020. The positive for Cougar fans is that both Warner and Wilcox could still see action in four games this year. The NCAA allows student-athletes to participate in four games and still maintain a redshirt. There’s optimism that the two senior defensive backs could play at some point in late November.
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4. Only 13 of BYU’s 61 players listed on USF game depth chart are seniors
There was no reason that BYU, a program with more resources and better talent, should have lost to the Toledo Rockets from the MAC. But it happened. Now the Cougars sit at 2-3 looking to bounce back against an athletic USF squad that’s feeling confident after a dominant win over UConn.
The Cougars will have to bounce back with a youth movement. Of the 61 players listed on BYU’s three-deep on offense and defense heading into the USF game, only 13 are seniors. Of those 13, eight are listed as starters. The other 48 names listed in the three-deep are freshmen, sophomores, or juniors. It’s a young football team. But they need to age in a hurry as they are staring down a difficult three-game stretch that could define their season.
5. BYU is 119th nationally in Total Sacks
Through five games, BYU has recorded a total of five sacks on the season as the Cougars near the midway point. Those five sacks are the 12th lowest amount of sacks by a team this season.
Sacks aren’t always the ultimate indicator of how successful a pass rush is each week, but the eye in the sky don’t lie. BYU’s three and sometimes four-man pass rush hasn’t created enough havoc to leave opposing offenses worried about what’s in front of them. That’s an area where BYU will need to make improvements moving forward.
Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12-3 pm) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.