Tuesday, July 15, 2008

BYU Preview

The "Quest for Perfection" is the goal in Provo this year as the BYU Cougars are primed to make a run at an undefeated season and a BCS Bowl game. Bronco Mendenhall is a name to remember because his name is going to come up next time Washington hires a new football coach.

In 2003 Mendenhall accepted the job to serve as defensive coordinator at Brigham Young University under then-head coach Gary Crowton. After three straight losing seasons, Crowton resigned. After a windmill of events, including the job being offered to former Cougar linebacker and current Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham the Cougars ended up settling on Mendenhall.

In 2005, his first year at the helm, the Cougars finished the regular season with a 6-5 record. They appeared in the Las Vegas Bowl, their first bowl game since 2001, falling to Cal 35-28.

In 2006 Mendenhall altered the 3-3-5 defense he brought from New Mexico, changing to a more conservative 3-4-4 in order to take advantage of BYU's traditional strength at linebacker and to minimize the traditional lack of depth at defensive back. This change resulted in the top-ranked scoring defense in the Mountain West Conference and one of the top scoring defenses in the nation.

Mendenhall also coached the Cougars to their first victory in five years over arch rival, the University of Utah. The team finished the regular season with a record of 10-2 and were ranked in the top 25 of the AP and Coaches polls as well as the BCS standings. The Cougars faced Oregon in the 2006 Las Vegas Bowl on December 21, pitting Mendenhall against Crowton, who then was the offensive coordinator at Oregon. BYU won easily, 38-8.

In 2007 After avenging a loss in 2006 to Arizona, BYU stumbled out of the gate losing two close games to UCLA and Tulsa, both on the road. BYU then ran the MWC table going 8-0 to win their second straight outright MWC Championship. BYU accepted an invite to the Las Vegas Bowl against UCLA. BYU won the game on the final play when BYU's Eathyn Manumaleuna blocked a 28-yard field goal attempt. BYU's final rankings were 14 in both the AP and USA Today polls with an 11-2 record.

Washington recently seems to be scheduling all the top mid majors at the wrong time. Over the last couple of years they have scheduled the likes of Fresno State, Boise State, Hawaii, and now BYU. Each of those teams have come into the Washington contest harboring legit BCS aspirations.

The BYU offense is led by Max Hall who had a good debut season as the starting quarterback for the Cougars, throwing for 3,848 yards, 26 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. If he makes the progress that many signal callers make heading into their second year running the show, the BYU offense will be very hard to stop.

Receiver Austin Collie returned from his mission last year and immediately became Hall’s favorite target. This year should be even better for Collie, but Hall will have plenty of other options. Tight end Dennis Pitta is a superb pass catcher and a nice target in the redzone and Luke Ashworth and Spencer Hafoka both had great springs after coming back from their missions and should compliment Collie at the wideout spots quite well.

On defense replacing a majority of the secondary and a few starting linebackers is tops on the list of things to do for BYU. Corners Brandon Howard and Scott Johnson have some experience, but can they help the Cougar’s play with the likes of UW, and UCLA?

Making matters more disheartening is the loss of linebackers Kelly Poppinga, Bryan Kehl and Markell Staffieri. Those will not be easy guys to replace and that will put a lot of pressure on some inexperienced players. Former tight end Vic So’oto might find himself in a starting role and Matt Bauman has to prove that he is ready for a full time starting position.

While the back eight has some issues that need addressed, the defense has its leader with Jan Jorgensen. As a sophomore, Jorgensen tallied 14 sacks and 20 tackles for loss. As an upperclassman, and one of the more experienced players on the team, he will be asked to be a leader as well as a sack machine. And as long as the front line can get pressure, the secondary will have some time to adjust.

If BYU is going to beat Pac Ten teams and make a run at a BCS bowl they are going to have to fill in the holes on defense.

How do you beat BYU?

You utilize Jake Locker to give an inexperienced defense fits all night. The Cougars haven't seen anything like Jake, and they are going to have a lot of problems with him. Washington should also be able to run the ball on these guys and take up some time of possession. The BYU offense is explosive, but if you keep the ball out of their hands and kill them with long drives you are going to win this game at home.

What do I think?

This is a winnable game, in fact it is a must win game if this team is going to do anything this season. I think Locker will have his way with the BYU defense and UW will win a high scoring game. The BYU offense can put some points up in a hurry so it will be a good test for our young defensive backfield. My opinion has always been that Pac Ten teams should beat MWC, and WAC teams, especially at home. Mark this as a "W" for Washington.

41 comments:

Anonymous said...

The Huskies should also go after coach Peterson from Boise State as an eventual successor to Willingham. He could definitely out-coach Ty, and with Pac-10 talent may be the savior the Huskies are looking for.
Before hiring Ty many speculated they should entertain the idea of Hawkins from Boise State who ended up in Colorado and is seemingly turning that program around, but at that time Ty seemed like a proven candidate.

Anonymous said...

As a BYU fan, obviously I'm somewhat biased, but I have to pose this question - you're right that the BYU D hasn't faced anyone like Locker last season, but what makes you so sure that he alone can carry your team to a win? He may run, but BYU only allowed 1 100-yd rusher all last year (Markey of UCLA in the Vegas Bowl). He may pass, but he completed less than 50% of his passes last year, and had more INT's than TD's. Assuming you can run all over a D simply because it's inexperienced is not only incorrect, but it's a dangerous assumption.

Locker just doesn't seem like someone that can single-handedly win the game for UW, as seemed to be your conclusion.

John Berkowitz said...

Locker is going to average close to 100 yards on the ground per game in 2008, and from we have seen this spring, and summer we expect him to be quite a bit more accurate passing the ball this season. A year of experience is a big plus for any QB.

I don't think many defenses will slow down the BYU offense, and the best defense is simply controlling the ball and keeping it away from BYU.

The game is in Seattle, and that is a huge advantage for UW. going into the season the achiles heal of your team is going to be defense.

Locker like any QB will need help from his skill people to win, but he definitely is one of those rare players who raises the level of everyone who playes with him.

The last guy we had like that was Marques Tuiasosopo, and Jake is going to be better than Marques.

Like I said, Pac Ten teams should always beat WAC, and MWC teams, for the most part they simply have more talent on the roster.

Given that this game is at home, my money is on Washington. Whatever the outcome, it will be very close, and I have a lot of respect for what BYU can do.

I think this years BYU team is much better than last years Hawaii team.

cougfaninvegas said...

John,

Great analysis on the Cougars. As a Cougar fan, I'd have to say you are pretty spot on about our team. As you said, the biggest question marks are with our linebackers and secondary. However, I think from a raw talent perspective, the guys coming in are better than the previous year's class, and if they can pick things up quickly, may even rival our defense in '96 that helped us win the Cotton Bowl. That said, Locker is exactly the kind of QB that has given us fits in the past, but, I think the Cougar D is a better one than in prior years and will do the job on the Sept. 6.

John Berkowitz said...

Thanks for stopping by!

If I was a BYU fan I would pick BYU over UW. It isn't like UW is a powerhouse anymore.

My take once again is a middle of the road Pac Ten team should beat a MWC opponent at home, doesn't mean it is guaranteed to happen, but the odds are in that favor.

If you guys are deserving of a BCS bid, you will beat Washington, and UCLA with little trouble.

I like what is happeneing in Provo, and it is great for the program to be back again.

One thing that really helps is that there is a lot more talent in Utah than there used to be, and most of that talent is staying home.

Anonymous said...

John I think you've done a very good job of breaking it down. I would add a few nuances though that you might have missed:

1. Experience isn't actually an issue at LB for BYU - Baumann and Doman (the two interior guys) have seen a lot of reps, both as many or more than Markell Staffieri got last year.

2. You're right that Jake is going to pose problems for BYU (as he has for everyone he's faced, maybe a few more for BYU) but this lot of BYU linebackers are actually a smaller quicker breed that are suited to containing him as far as that's possible.

I'd also contest your notion that PAC 10 teams should always beat MWC teams. Most PAC 10 teams should almost always beat most MWC teams. But BYU isn't most MWC teams. 36 of the 44 players on BYU's early two-deep turned down offers from BCS schools, most of them PAC 10 schools. BYU isn't a default option for most of this talent, but the destination of choice. Of the eight that didn't, many would have if they hadn't been Utah recruits who were set early on going to BYU.

Just saying - BYU is not Hawaii.

All that said, I call this game about a tossup with a slight lean to the Cougs.

John Berkowitz said...

UW has played Fresno State, Boise State, and Hawaii over the past few years, and I would say this BYU team is the best of that bunch.

Last years BYU team was better than Hawaii, but for a mid major to get in they need to run the table.

BYU has the schedule to do that this year.

Andrew said...

John,

Great analysis. You really seem to know your stuff about both teams! It's always good to read other people's takes on the coming season, and I quite enjoyed reading your article on this game. I'm looking forward to watching this matchup, and will probably be making the trip up to Seattle to cheer for my team! See you there!

-Andrew

Anonymous said...

Great analysis, John. Here's a couple names that I would like to also bring to light:

Harvey Unga: First BYU RB to rush for more than 1,000 yds in his freshman season last year (244 rushes, 1,227 yds, 13 TDs). He was also the third leading receiver behind Collie & Pitta (44rec, 655 yds, 4 TDs). I would say he was the biggest star of the team last year, not Max Hall or Collie. Along with a great OL, he could be the difference maker vs. the Huskies.

Michael Reed: Definitely worth mentioning before 2 uknown receivers. Reed is a big receiver with lots of experience whose expertise is knocking the crap out of Ute safeties. Last year he had 41 receptions for 449 yds. He should have a great senior year.

Mr. Tent Trash said...

Great analysis John!

I think some of your assumptions about BYU's defense may or may not be completely true. I envisions BYU's offense giving the HUsky defense far more than it can take and I see BYU winning comfortably. I just see no way that the Husky defense can keep the Cougars contained and I do not see Locker really doing anything in the air. He throws more INTs than TDs. BYU by 14.

Justin Dennison said...

As a Coug fan I might not agree on the outcome, :) but I do agree that Locker will cause problems for sure, but I think you'll find our rush defense a little more stiffling than you wrote. I believe we were top 10 last year in rush defense. Anyways, this is a good write up; good luck come Fall!

Jason Katzenbach said...

If the huskies are going to beet the cougars than it will have to be with Locker hitting his receivers deep. The teams that have been successful against BYU the last 3 years (with the exception of UCLA last fall, they won because BYU turned the ball over too much) have won by beating BYU's secondary. If Washington wins it will be either because BYU has turnover problems or because Locker has really improved at throwing the ball and has found some good reliable targets to throw to.

Guy said...

This is a well thought out article.

I have to question the proposition that because, in your opinion, most Pac-10 teams can beat most MWC teams, Washington will beat BYU in September. That conclusion obviously does not follow from that premise and has nothing to do with the merits of either team.

By contrast, the fact that UW is playing at home is a significant advantage that is relevant to this game. Unfortunately, BYU has not played well on the road at the beginning of the season against BCS teams.

I noted, however, that, apart from pointing out some perceived BYU weaknesses, the only evidence you cite in favor of a Huskie win is (1) home field advantage, and (2) Jake Locker. You did not mention all of the starters that UW lost to graduation last year, the lack of supporting cast that Locker has, lack of depth on defense, and the injuries UW sustained in the spring.

Weaknesses in BYU's team are only significant if UW has something to take advantage of those weaknesses. For example, Locker has not shown that he can thrown the ball. In fact, his statistics from last year suggest that he is not a good passer at all. In light of this, whatever perceived weakness BYU may have in the secondary is likely to mean little.

At the end of the day, if you line up the teams head-to-head, I think BYU's offense will put up more points on UW's defense than UW's offense will put up on BYU's defense. That will translate to a win for the Cougars.

Anonymous said...

Hey John, as other coug fans on here have mentioned... great write up. I concur with what they've mentioned regarding our defense, as well as other offensive players to keep an eye out for. However, the one issue that bothers me about this game being in Seattle are the PAC-10 refs! Assuming they don't homer the Huskies like crazy, I see BYU having a great shot at taking this game away from home. Please don't mistake my assertion as an excuse if the Y loses. But EVERYONE knows that the PAC's refs are shady (and that's putting it mildly). As if it's not bad enough having to play a PAC 10 team at their own house (I don't care what their record was last year), having the refs stacked against you as a 13th man aint gonna be a picnic. BYU is going to have to play sound, perfect football if they expect to come away with a win. Unfortunately, it's sad but true.

Anonymous said...

Great in depth review of BYU. It will be a great game as were the last couple of meetings between these schools. I think you also identified the reason BYU will have a good shot at winning. This notion that any school in a BCS conference should beat a MWC team puts many of your teams at a disadvantage. Oregon got the crap kicked out of them and remained arragant. I believe that the PAC 10 is a better conference overall, but put the bottom six in the MWC and I don't think they win it. Put the top four MWC teams in the PAC 10 and they may not win it either but with all the advantages in recruiting and $$$ reserved for the BCS teams I'll bet they would in a couple of years. Just because the BCS controls the money and media does not make a team like BYU a mid major. The arragance of the BCS created the label.

Adam said...

I think you underestimate the plug-and-play nature of BYU's system. In 2007, after losing virtually their entire offense to graduation and the NFL, BYU mirrored 2006's success with a brand new, untested quarterback, a RS Freshman running back, and a TE and WR straight back from 2-year missions. An 11-2 season with a #14 ranking is quite an accomplishment considering the circumstances.

2008 will be similar, in that BYU will have to fill vacancies- but this time it's on defense. Their secondary is untested, true, but may be the most athletic that's been at BYU in years.

The Linebackers are traditionally deep, and Shawn Doman, David Nixon and Vic So'oto will be playmakers. Terrance Hooks will also make an impact when healthy.

The D-line is deep, and will not allow a 100-yard rusher in 2008.

BYU will be tough to run on, and Locker isn't as strong with his arm as he is with his feet. Conclusion: BYU gets a signature win in Seattle.

CougFan said...

That was a nice write-up; I can tell you put some time into your research.

BTW, it's nice to see my fellow Cougars blowing up the comments. Keep it up, BYU fans!

Spencer Tycksen said...

Great write up John. I just appreciate being able to talk some football during this sports-drought part of the year. Thanks!

Go Cougs!

Anonymous said...

At least they have a real Head Coach......

John Berkowitz said...

The Pac Ten Refs don't cheat, and they don't play favorites, they just are terrible officials, perhaps the worst group of in the country.

They could screw UW just as easy as BYU.

CougOnTheEastRiver said...

Oh one more thing John - don't bother bringing up Bronco once you guys fire Willingham. For real - he won't be going to Washington, he won't even be interested.

Bronco is bonded to BYU in a variety of ways, not the least of them being the family in the community and the home/ranch he's developed there. And religion.

He won't even listen to a proposal from UW and take it seriously.

John Berkowitz said...

In reference to some of the posts I could go on and on about other Washington offensive players, but they are talented, but unproven.

If you go back a few articles i go throgh the team pretty thouroughly position by position, no reason to repeat it in every review because we are trying to focus on the opposition rather than Washington.

CougOnTheEastRiver said...

Another pt on why Bronco will never go to UW - not trying to be provocative here - BYU's got a better football program.

I'd point to consecutive top 15 finishes and wins over common opponents (UCLA, Oregon, Arizona) in the last two years as evidence.

Not trying to be a jerk. But Bronco would see no upward move in going to UW (and the half mil BYU is paying him is more than enough for a man of Bronco's lifestyle).

Anonymous said...

Thanks for showing the resepct the Cougars deserve.

If Washington can sustain long, time-consuming, well executed drives the length of the field they should win. You are right in the fact that the best way to keep BYU from scoring is keeping the offense completely off the field.

If BYU's young defense can stop Locker and Co. from long scoring drives, then BYU wins.

Also, just because a team is in the Pac-10 this does not qualify them as a better program than a MWC team. Conference against Conference the Pac-10 wins hands down. But BYU is easily a superior program to the bottom feeders of the Pac-10 and definitely an equal to the Mid-tier Pac 10 teams. We have proven it with OOC and LV Bowl wins, home and away attendance figures, recruiting battles, AP and Coaches Poll rankings, etc. I dont buy for a minute that we are inferior to a Pac-10 team merely because of conference affiliation.

Matt Williams said...

John,

Let me be the latest BYU fan to tell you that you're practically right on the money on our team.

I also think that you're right to say that the best bet is that UW defends the home front and wins this game. Precedent is on your side.

Locker will give BYU problems, as he will most teams he faces.

I think you may be overestimating the BYU O and underestimating its D a bit. BYU doesn't typically put up huge offensive numbers on BCS soil. Conversely, we haven't been giving up a lot of points either lately vs. the PAC-10.

While BYU is inexperienced in spots on D, they are very solid on the line and athletic in the secondary. Latey, BYU tends to be assignment sound and will make you march methodically all the way down the field. There are enough playmakers to wreck a would-be long drive with one big play.

UW could do that, but I think it will largely take place on the ground if they do. I don't see a high scoring shootout. It's more likely a game in the upper 20's that will be decided by less than a TD.

I'd bet Huskies if I were you, but BYU has a good shot at this one.

Anonymous said...

Since all the comments are from BYU fans, looks like BYU fans are more excited about football than Washington. I too am a BYU fan but I have to admit, this game will come close and the Pac-10 refs will give the game to Washington. Since it's a home game for the Husky, BYU will struggle and lose. Sorry BYU fans, but it's better to have a lose early in the season than late. I can't wait, but my expectations aren't high. Go Cougs!

BYUWHO? said...

One thing right about this article is the big W for Washington. Come on, BYU fans, get real! BCS team against MWC at home? Not a chance!
Washington wins big!

42-17 for the Husky! See you soon, cry babies!

Dustin James said...

haha!! Excuse me "BYwho" Do you watch college football at all? If you did you should have noticed that you're "superior" BCS teams aren't that superior (PAC10 vs MWC last year 6-5, wow, what domination). In fact the MWC has had a better record against other BCS teams than both the ACC and Big East for the past several years! Maybe your post should instead read, "Come on BYU fans, get real! PAC10 team against MWC, at home!... With PAC10 refs! Not a chance!" By saying that you'd be much more accurate and yes, it would be quite an accomplishment (Just ask Oklahoma).

John Berkowitz said...

I have been doing this blog for three years and have never gotten this much action on a post. It makes me think that BYU and Utah would be good fits for Pac Ten expansion.

Utah might not be the biggest TV market, but they care about college football. Isn't that what it is all about?

Anonymous said...

Yeah John,

Good on you for noticing how big college football is here in Utah. Seriously, We have the Jazz and college football (and maybe RSL (soccer) to a much lesser extent). BYU is always near the top in attendance in the western US, and yes, they would be a good fit for the eventual (though hard fought) PAC-10 expansion (that whole play on Sunday thing may be a challenge, however). I'm sure you will see more posts over the next few days and if you check your hit counter I imagine this would be a high ranking article for hits. People around here are PASSIONATE about college football.

John Berkowitz said...

One question, how did all you BYU guys find us?

Anonymous said...

Here's how I found it...
http://www.cougarboard.com/noframes/message.html?id=3867625

John Berkowitz said...

Seven in the box was a good strategy against Locker in 2007, but he will be much better passer in 2007.

Remember the kid has 4.45 speed, and is built like a horse, he can take on any linebacker, or cornerback in the country, and he did exactly that as a freshman. With a years experience he is going to be pretty good in 2008.

Dennis Erickson thinks he will be one of the top five QB's in country in 2008.

Anonymous said...

Nice write up! IMO most Cougar fans underestimate how difficult it is to play in Seattle. In 1996, BYU lost one game that season to.... UW in Seattle. I was at the game, the weather was miserable and the crowd was intense. This time around, the weather should be better and BYU will have a stronger presence in the crowd. I'd guess 20-25K Cougar fans come in force, similar to UCLA last year. Nonetheless, Husky Stadium is a tough place to play.

During the season, I watch plenty of PAC 10 football, and the refs are the worst. They seem to raise their incompetency to another level when an out of conference team is in town. The home cooking will give UW an additional 7-14 points (field position, mysterious off. PI calls, etc.). In the end, BYU will still prevail 30-25. Lockler will keep the game close, but Willingham is an idiot and can't keep his team motivated (see Hawaii). I wouldn't be surprised to see UW lead for a significant portion or most of the game.

John Berkowitz said...

20K - 25K Cougar fans?

That will be tough to do since Husky Stadium Seats 72,000, and the Huskies will probably sell close to 60,000 season tickets this season.

BYU will be well represented, but I think there will be 8,000, to 12,000 Cougar fans at the game, and that isn't bad for a game on the road.

BYU has a solid fan base in Seattle, the LDS has a nice base in the Northwest.

gmj81 said...

Great write up! You probably have the BYU team down better than most BYU fans.

Some of the other BYU fans have brought up some good points, so I won't expound any further there.

I agree there won't be anywhere close to 25K BYU fans there. Last year at UCLA it was probably 20K, maybe slightly more. Once they got loud though and the tide started to turn in favor of the Cougs in the 3rd, you could see the Bruin fans were getting worried. And there's probably a higher population of LDS in SoCal than Washington althoug there is a healthy contingent up there.

I would expect between 14-17K BYU fans though which is still a fair amount if things start going poorly for UW. If BYU fans travel from Idaho and Oregon they might push 20K but like you said, it would greatly depend on how many season tickets are sold.

Anonymous said...

I see BYU hanging about 41 points on the UW defense and although Locker is good....UW's Offense will do well to put up mid twenties. With the help of some home town officiating, you can probably add another 7-10 points. But that still give the win to BYU. Best of luck in the opener against Oregon!

bigdave967 said...

BYU vs. UW...one of the best match ups of the year. It may not have the star power of USC v. OSU but in terms of two programs trying to get back to national domiance it means a lot. Both teams will NEED this game to determine their seasons.

UW is an extremely tough team to predict. They could have 4-5 (give or take a few) true freshman starters this year on both sides of the ball. They have a very young WR corp and chances are the starters will be guys that have never seen a down of college football but have the tools to be great. Chris Polk has been compared to Reggie Bush and could be a huge difference maker.

All in all I will have to wait until after week one to make a prediction....oh what the heck UW 31 BYU 24.

Anonymous said...

holy wowzers john...

let me reiterate your thought about how great it is to see your football-related thread getting this attention from well-meaning fans. the byu fans are giving themselves a great reputation with their comments and your article is respectfully written even to those who disagree with it.

i'm now more pumped about the upcoming season and really impressed with how much football love is coming out of cougar fans.

cheers,

Meek

Joe said...

It's nice to see so many BYU posters on here but where are all the Huskies fans? Come on!

Anyways, a lot of you guys are saying John has underestimated many aspects of your team and maybe he has but I thought I would point out some of the things about Washington this year that may not be immediately apparent.

First of all it's really hard to say if losing 5 wide receivers is going to hurt the team because if the NCAA tracked dropped passes I'm fairly certain UW would have been the worst last year. If I had to guess I would say about 10-15% of the passes thrown last year were dropped because I could count about 6 per game without a sweat. None of the receivers were very good at getting open either but they did block very well.

Next, losing our RB makes me, and I would think many other Husky fans, feel a lot better about the team this year than last year because Rankin was not a power back. We have guys that can fill his speed back role but last year the coaching staff was asking him to do both and it just did not work. Brandon Johnson, our starter this year, is much better at hitting the line and getting 1-3 yards when you need it. Our slot back/speed back, Chris Polk, is very fast and provides the same big play potential that we had last year with Rankin.

Finally, if you watched our defense at all last year you could have easily seen why it was so terrible. Kent Baer ran a soft zone with the corners playing 10-15 yards off the line, even on 3rd and shorts. Even worse is that we played like planted trees in our zone and usually never reacted until it was too late. The run defense was decent but our pressure on the quarterback at times was almost non-existent. We never changed our schemes and we did nothing to disguise coverages. Losing 3 of 4 starters off the DL and some key reserves will definitely hurt the run defense but the secondary will vastly improve. The linebackers are very good as well. Basically the defense was terrible last year but it would be very surprising if they didn't improve a lot.

There are a lot of questions on this team heading into Tyrone's 4th year and the success of the team will depend on how the young wide receivers, running backs, and defensive linemen turn out. But I just wanted to point out that when you look at our personnel losses and use them as reasons why we may not win that it's not as dire a situation as you think. I don't know much about your team so I won't make predictions on the outcome but I look forward to the game and I gaurantee I'll be there doing my part to make it hard for your QB to hear.

Oh and I saw a lot of comments about the officials and how they screw over non-conference opponents. Thats not true and it goes both ways, if you watched our game against Ohio State last year you'd have seen a backwards pass returned for a touchdown that was ruled an incomplete pass prematurely, (refs blew the whistle before the play ran its course which is a big no-no) a call that would have changed the game. The Pac-10 officials, as John pointed out, are just terrible.

John Berkowitz said...

Great post Joe.

Going into the season the big question mark is the skill positions surrounding Jake Locker.

The talent is there, and it is definitely an upgrade compared to last year, the only thing lacking is experience.

The one area young players make the most impact are at the offensive skill positions.

I think we will be ok.