BYU Cougars

Top Three Questions for BYU Heading into Big 12 Media Days

NCAA Football: Brigham Young at Utah State

Big 12 Media Days are right around the corner, which means the 2023 college football season is less than two months away.

The burning questions for every team are starting to build some momentum and at media days we will finally get the answers to some of those questions.

As each fanbase prepares itself for another season of Big 12 football, we’re here to help with the three biggest questions that each team is facing before heading to Arlington for Media Days on July 12-13.

With that being said, here are the three biggest questions that the BYU Cougars are facing heading into 2023 Big 12 Football Media Days.

 

Are the Cougars Ready to Make the Jump?

This is a question that all four newcomers will have to face ahead of Big 12 Media Days this week, and it’s a fair question for each of them. BYU has played an independent schedule since 2011, but will have a Power Five schedule from here on out starting in 2023. The Cougars played at total of five Power Five teams in 2022, but will face 10 such opponents in 2023. That alone will be a major challenge to overcome, especially with all the lost production Kalani Sitake will have to replace this season. However, in total, the Cougars return 15 starters from a season ago and added some very important pieces in the transfer portal. Will it be enough to get them to an 18th bowl game in the last 19 years? Only time will tell.

Will Kedon Slovis Fill the Void Left by Jaren Hall’s Departure?

Jaren Hall was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings back in April, leaving BYU without its starting quarterback from each of the past two seasons. In 2023, Hall was terrific for the Cougars, completing 248-376 (66%) for 3,171 yards and 31 touchdowns to just six interceptions while adding 423 yards and three scores on the ground. Now, the Cougars will turn to Kedon Slovis, who transferred to BYU after one season at Pitt, which proved to be the worst of his career. After a standout freshman year at USC, in which he completed 71.9% of his passes for 3,502 yards and 30 touchdowns to just nine interceptions, Slovis’ numbers have declined each year, hitting an all-time low at Pitt, completing just 58.4% of his attempts for 10 touchdowns and nine interceptions in 2022. If Slovis can recapture the magic from earlier in his career, BYU could be a team that surprises in 2023, but if its more of the same from a year ago, he might not even keep hold of the job through the season.

 

Will the Defense Improve Under New Leadership?

In 2022, BYU’s defense returned 10 starters and was expected to be a strength of the team. However, it turned out to be a detriment to the Cougars’ success, allowing 408 yards and 29.5 points per game. In the aftermath, BYU defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki stepped down after seven seasons under Kalani Sitake, leaving the Cougars to hire a new DC. They landed on Weber State head coach Jay Hill, who led the Wildcats to six playoff appearances from 2014-2022. In 2021, Weber State’s defense allowed just 283 yards per game under Hill, and in 2022 they allowed just 325 yards per game. If that success can carry over to the Cougars’ first year in the Big 12, BYU will be a contender in the conference race. However, that is a tall task with Hill jumping from the FCS to the Power Five, and shouldn’t be the expectation. If BYU can just improve on the 29.5 ppg from a season ago it would be a major accomplishment and would keep the Cougars in bowl contention.

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