MWC breakdown: BYU

By By Jason Peterson

By Jason Peterson

Key returner: RB Fui Vakapuna, junior

Vakapuna will get the full-time minutes he deserves, thanks to the departure of Curtis Brown. DL Kelly Poppinga takes the reigns as leader of the defense.

Key losses: Offensive skill positions

The Cougars lose nearly their entire scoring production in QB John Beck, TE Johnny Harline and RB Curtis Brown. The Cougars will be looking for Max Hall to fill the production and on-field emotions Beck left behind.

X-Factor: Quarterback

BYU lives and dies by the quarterback position. QB Max Hall has big shoes to fill, so he’ll need to connect with Zac Collie and WR’s Matt Allen and Michael Reed early and often if the Cougars hope to relive the 11-2 hype of 2006.

Toughest game: at UCLA (Sept. 8)

The Bruins had a nice year last season and could be even better this year behind former BYU quarterback Ben Olsen.

Cupcake game: at UNLV (Oct. 13)

The Cougars have a tough schedule with non-conference opponents, so the easiest game on their schedule comes from the MWC’s weakest team.

Season outlook:

BYU will have a tough task measuring up to last year’s 11-2 season. Further hindering its efforts will be one of the toughest non-BCS conference schedules in the nation, which features a full slate of Division-I games. BYU’s success will largely depend on how the offense’s skill positions mesh together in its first season as a unit.