2022 BYU Cougars Preview

by Matt Fargo

BYU Cougars

2021-22 Season Record 10-3 (N/A) - 5-8-0 ATS - 6-7-0 O/U

Returning Starters

Offense - 8
Defense - 11

Overview

This will be the 12th and final season for BYU playing as an Independent before joining the Big 12 next season and it has flourished playing a wide variety of schedules. The problem with no conference affiliation is that it does not get invited to a top level bowl with 2020 being the perfect example after going 10-1, it was rewarded with a trip to the Boca Raton Bowl. The Cougars have had only one losing season over this stretch, a 4-9 campaign in 2017 where they played an absolutely brutal top heavy schedule losing their first seven games against FBS teams. Going 21-4 over the last two seasons has put BYU back on the map and it is loaded for another big year with 19 returning starters and a ranking of No. 2 in returning production. Head coach Kalani Sitake is in his seventh season while building a great foundation and he has an opportunity to make his new conference take notice.

Offense

BYU took a step back last season from 2020 on offense as it averaged more than 70 fewer ypg and put up 11 fewer ppg but of course that was with Zach Wilson at quarterback yet still finished in the top 30 in total offense, scoring offense and passing offense in 2021. Jaren Hall took over last season and was solid in 10 games where he threw for 2,583 yards and 20 touchdowns with just five interceptions and he should be even better. The real strength is the offensive line as BYU did lose one starter but is loaded and this is considered one of the best lines in the country that allowed only 15 sacks last season. The Cougars lost leading rusher Tyler Allgeier who ran for over 1,400 yards but the transfer portal and returning depth will make them just fine. Hall has three of his top four receivers back as well as tight end Isaac Rex so both rushing and passing offenses will thrive.   

Defense

The defense was not great last season as BYU finished No. 74 overall, No. 77 in passing and No. 66 in rushing but it was opportunistic with 25 takeaways that led to a good scoring defense. Now it is time to make a huge leap. It is rare for a team to get every starter back but that is the case in Provo and after last season, they will be out to prove something. The Cougars had only 20 sacks last season which was tied for No. 98 in the country so they need a better pass rush and will get it with another year to develop. BYU had trouble against the run as it allowed 156.8 ypg, No. 58 overall, on 4.4 ypc and like the pass rush, it will get better as the linebackers are strong, versatile and deep. The secondary was solid with 15 interceptions, tied for No. 14 in the nation and that can go way up if they can increase that pressure to the quarterback. This unit will be flying around everywhere.

2022 Season Outlook

Moving to the Big 12 will be monstrous for the program as recruiting will pick up with a chance to take even another step forward. 2022 is the focus right now though and BYU has the ability to create some momentum going into next season. It will not be easy based on the schedule as nine of their 12 games are against teams with a winning record from last season. Six are against proven perennial winners in Oregon, Baylor, Notre Dame, Arkansas (maybe not perennial but very improved), Boise St. and Stanford and only two of those are at home. There are six nearly guaranteed wins on the slate so it will take some upsets to get to double-digits which is more than possible with this roster. The O/U win total is 8.5 which is relatively low but the linesmakers have taken the schedule into consideration yet the Cougars should be able to sneak over that total. 

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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