As the final day of spring practice winds down for the BYU Cougar football team, the countdown is on to the season opener at BIG 10 opponent Nebraska. The Cougars finished the 2014 season with an 8-5 record that included a brawl-marred Miami Beach Bowl Game loss to Memphis to end the season. It also saw the Cougars start out 4-0 before losing to Utah State as well as losing Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback Taysom Hill for the season with a broken leg.
Coming into the spring the focus has been on discipline as the Cougars were one of the most penalized teams in the nation a season ago. It also stems from the incident against Memphis to end the season. But does that mean the Cougars will be successful in the 2015 campaign that includes road games at Nebraska, Michigan, UCLA, and Utah State to end the season as well as a neutral site game against Missouri in Kansas City?
Taysom Hill is still recovering from his broken leg. A BYU defense that lost seniors Craig Bills and Alani Fua to graduation is young and inexperienced. Running back Jamaal Williams is still recovering from a knee injury that ended his season. Williams is optimistic that he will be ready for fall camp. “When they tell me….I can’t do anything about that. I just listen to them and try to be back there when I can.”
There is one player that has stuck out during spring practice and that is senior wide receiver Mitch Matthews who is looking to build on a strong 2014 season that saw him catch 73 passes for 922 yards and nine touchdowns. “They are keeping me to a high standard, making sure that they don’t treat me like I’ve been here before just because I am a senior,” Matthews said. “Any weakness they see in my game, they point it out.” It is leadership like this that BYU hopes to have continue into summer camp and into a season that could see BYU potentially in a New Year’s Six bowl game.
The schedule is top heavy again but one that could bring national attention to the Cougars. Although spring practice was a success and there was only one significant injury, it won’t mean much until the product is seen against real competition and that starts on Saturday September 5, 2015 at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Nebraska.