What Can We Expect from BYU Football in 2003?

<b><i>Part 1 of 2</i></b><P> I cannot hesitate any longer. As a BYU fan of nearly 45 years and season ticket holder for 10 years, I have some objective views of BYU football. Yeah, right!

When it comes to BYU sports, it's difficult for me to be totally objective. Anytime a sports reporter, or any writer for that matter, says he or she can is totally objective about anything, they really aren't. Everyone has an opinion that is molded by perception, experience or bias – whether they admit it or not.

So here goes. Here is what one "objective" observer projects for BYU football in 2003.

BYU wins every game this year 75-0 and beats the Miami Hurricanes in the BCS national championship game. OK, I'll get serious.

Out-of-conference games first. The early betting line has BYU by three over Georgia Tech. Some are saying BYU fans should jump all over that in a flash; that the Cougars are a lock to make the spread. I agree with that.

Georgia Tech main strength is its offensive line that has a ton more experience, though this writer believes BYU's has more talent. The Cougars are a relatively young line and may have as many as three freshmen starters by the end of the season – Eddie Keele, Jake Kuresa and Ofa Mohetau. They have molded and melded together as a unit much earlier that normal.

BYU's starting quarterback Matt Berry has six games of experience as a starter, a full spring, summer-long off-season workout with other starters and the confidence and support of his players.

On the defensive side, BYU has a great defensive scheme installed by defensive coordinator Bronco Mendenhall. If Georgia Tech goes with true freshman Reggie Ball, the Cougar defense will be all over him. There is no way that Tech coach, Chan Gailey, can get a true freshman ready for the BYU/Mendenhall defense.

BYU 23 - Georgia Tech 17.

BYU at USC: Short and simple. BYU loses this game by 13, at the least.

Stanford at BYU: This is an easy one to pick. The Cardinal return eight starters on defense and only three on offense, and two of them are quarterbacks. More than 45 Cardinal players are either true freshmen or redshirt freshman.

BYU 27 - Stanford 10.

Boise State at BYU: These two teams are tied for 35th place ranking in the preseason ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll – along with Fresno State, Boston College and Minnesota. Boise State has recently emerged as a WAC powerhouse and has been Utah's nemesis in recent years.

I'm concerned this will be an emotional letdown game for BYU. I know, I'm on an island on this one…

BSU 27 - BYU 25.

BYU at Notre Dame: Will second-year coach Tyrone Willingham experience have the same second year slump that hit BYU's Gary Crowton? Not likely. Willingham will have eight starters returning from the nation's 13th ranked defense and five starters returning on offensive.

One of those starters is QB Carlyle Holiday. It will be his second year as a starter. He is on the Davey O'Brien Award watch list. Ryan Grant rushed for 1,085 yards as a sophomore. He was only the seventh Notre Dame player to rush for more than 1,000 yards in a season.

Notre Dame 23 - BYU 19.

Part 2: BYU vs. MWC Opponents

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