Looking beyond 2003 in BYU gridiron and hoops

This is the time of year when all Cougar fans busy themselves and pass the slow spring months by peaking around the corner and taking a giddy look at the glory that fall and winter will bring. I have decided to take it one step further and peak two corners ahead to fall and winter 2004.

While the hopes of relieving 2001 and forgetting 2002 are in full bloom for BYU football, take a second with me and glance at 2004.

Of course, line up changes and personnel moves will be abundant between now and then, but scary things may be afoot after this season. Particularly on the defensive side.

Gratefully, Bronco Mendenhall has arrived and his presence and his defensive schemes should make up for some lackings the Cougs might have.

But when the clock ticks away on the final seconds of the upcoming season, it will signify the end of a college career for a plethora of BYU stoppers. Ryan Gunderson, Levi Madarieta, Bill Wright, Paul Walkenhorst, Mike Tanner, Colby Bockwoldt, Jernaro Gilford, Michael Madsen and Brandon Heaney will all wind up their time as Cougars.

Losses on the other side of the ball won't be as massive, but David and Toby Christensen (nice last names), Jason Kukahiko, Scott Jackson and Quinn Christensen (also a nice last name) will be gone as will converted defensive players Ifo Pili and Scott Young (unless he redshirts this year).

But recruiting seems to be a strong-point for Crowton and company, so things should be OK.

The real area for concern in 2004 is in the Marriott Center. Eight seniors will grace the Cougar roster next year including probable starters Kevin Woodberry, Ricky Bower, Rafeal Araujo and Mark Bigelow. Off the bench, Luiz Lemes, Dan Howard, Jake Shoff and Bart Jepsen will depart.

BYU will certainly bring in a JC transfer or two this month and if we assume Dixie transfer Mike Hall becomes a Cougar, here's how the partial roster will look.

PG Austin Ainge SG Mike Hall C Derek Dawes PF Jared Jensen SF John Allen

Bench: Terry Nashif, Garner Meads, Jimmy Balderson, Sam Burgess.

Not all that dire, but the wing spots will be weak on depth, talent and experience and who knows what the host of newcomers will bring.

Sharpshooter Michael Rose will probably be on a mission as will this year's redshirt freshman Jermaine Objegba. BYU will have Burgess, a Snow College transfer kid for 2004, who is currently on a mission and prepped at Lone Peak High and Balderson looked good as a freshman.

But if Mike Hall or his roster spot equivalent doesn't step in a become a star in 2004, BYU will be hardpressed to make it to the NCAA tourney for the third straight year and even more hardpressed to follow up 2003's Elite Eight run.

OK, spring fever must be getting to me now. I am getting way to hopeful for 2003. But who knows, it could happen.

© 2003 TotalBlueSports.com

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