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BYU 2023 Season Preview: Welcome to the Big XII!

Updated: Jul 18, 2023



The moment that BYU fans have all been waiting for is quickly approaching! July 1st

will be the first official day for the newest BIG XII members. With so many unknowns

about BYU’s upcoming season, let’s dive in and preview what this season could look

like SOS:


A key component to BYU’s season this year will be their strength of schedule.

According to ESPN’s FBI strength of schedule rankings, BYU has the 28th hardest

schedule this season. That’s a much more challenging schedule than last season’s 73rd

toughest, where the Cougars went 8-5. To be honest, we never know how tough a

schedule really is until the end of the year. It is safe to say, though, that this will be the

toughest schedule BYU football has ever faced.


Defense:

Another crucial unknown for Brigham Young is what the defense will look like this

year. BYU went through a defensive coaching staff shift during the off-season. They

brought in Jay Hill as Defensive Coordinator, Kelly Poppinga as Special Teams

Coordinator and Defensive Ends Coach, Justin Ena as Linebackers Coach, and Sione

Po’uha over the Defensive Tackles. This is an experienced group of coaches that all

have experience coaching at the P5 level.


This should also prove to be a much more aggressive defense than we’ve seen in

recent years. Fans have expressed their frustrations with the drop 8 defense and the

“bend, don’t break” defensive mentality that previous DC, Ilaisa Tuiaki, brought to the

team and have listened to those concerns and brought in coaches with the opposite

mind set.


Cougar fanatics will be seeing a lot more blitzing and pressure on opposing

quarterbacks this year, and that’s something that I, as a BYU fan am excited about! It

reminds me of stalwart BYU linebackers of the past like Shay Muirbrook, who set the

NCAA record for sacks in a single game in the Cotton Bowl against Kansas State in the

‘96-’97 season.


“The transfer portal giveth, and the transfer portal taketh away.”

Transfer Portal:

For BYU, did it give more than it took? BYU definitely got hit by a couple big names

leaving the program such as linebacker Logan Pili leaving for Utah State, the Barrington brothers going to Baylor, cornerback Gabe Jeudy-Lally to Tennessee, and CB George Udo going to Cincinnati.


I think it’s fair to say that overall, BYU gained more than they lost. The Cougars

landed 23rd in FB Transfer Rankings on 247 Sports, with twenty new players joining the

program, and ten or eleven that will have immediate impact and playing time. Some of

the big names coming in are linebacker Harrison Taggart, who is a local 4-star recruit

from Corner Canyon High School that is coming into Provo out of Oregon and still has 4 years of eligibility left. Tailback Deion Smith came out of Colorado, and had 83 carries for 393 yards last season, 111 of those yards coming in one game against ASU.


Brigham Young also used the transfer portal to add power to the offensive side.

Offensive tackle Caleb Etienne, from BYU’s new conference foe Oklahoma State,

started all thirteen games last season for the Cowboys. Saving the best for last, BYU

also received quarterback Kedon Slovis and running back Aidan Robbins. Slovis, who

has played for USC and Pitt during his time in college, is looking to wrap his collegiate

career with a strong finish. After a very good freshman year with USC where he threw

over 3,500 yards with 30 touchdowns.


Slovis hasn’t matched that performance since then. Robbins, on the other hand, is coming off his best season yet with UNLV. Robbins didn’t see many of touches in Louisville, but after transferring to UNLV last season he proved he can handle a heavy workload. He’s able to produce large numbers, and finished last season with over 1,000 yards and nine touchdowns. BYU is going to lean on these two the most this season to show what BYU can do in their first season in the BIG XII.


Predictions:

So what does all this mean? Until games actually start this September, this is all the

info we have to help us decipher how well BYU will do this year. I am optimistic about

the upcoming season! According to ESPN FBI, the Brigham Young Cougars will be

underdogs in nine of their twelve games this season. But, as any good BYU fan knows,

BYU plays better when they are considered underdogs.


I think BYU has a ton of great talent returning, and they’re joined by the talented players mentioned here. I predict that BYU will exceed expectations and will be bowl eligible! I think the ceiling for BYU is 8-4 and the floor is 6-6. Whatever the final record, this group of Cougars will be a fun, high-octane offense to watch (like the days of McMahon and Young), and will have a strong, aggressive defense to match! Grab your seats, Cougar faithful!



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