Blue Blood: 2012 team belongs to Riley Nelson

COMMENTARY – My name is Scott Young. I am a former BYU defensive and offensive lineman from the early to mid 2000’s. For those of you who don’t know me, I have many years of college and NFL experience behind me. This may or may not qualify me as a voice for this year’s team, but here it goes.

All of us who have strapped on the helmets and pads at some point in our lives can feel it in the air. There are kids walking the streets of St. George with shoulder pads and helmets in hand. You can practically smell the grass and sweat stirring up for this fall’s games.

Well BYU fans and just plain football fans alike, I am sure that there is no doubt we all have our usual high expectations for the 2012-13 team. After last year’s thrilling last second 24-21 Armed Forces Bowl game win vs. Tulsa, we are all moving forward with expectations of similar outcome this season.

Riley Nelson (13), shown here during last season’s Armed Forces Bowl, is the big man on campus this year for BYU. | Photo by Mark Philbrick, BYU Photo

This now puts me back on my couch at home watching Riley Nelson call his own shots from the grass and throw the game-winning touchdown with a couple seconds to go. I am excited to see how another off-season and more snaps with the team have given him more experience. He has the potential to lead this team to another bowl game victory. At the end of that game, Nelson faked a spike to kill the clock and threw to a wide open Cody Hoffman for the win with less than 10 seconds left. I believe he made the call on his own in the last second to win the bowl game, and that pretty much says it all. He is a natural born competitor and winner. He reminds me a little of the quarterback I used to block for at BYU, John Beck.

Yes, memories of the bowl game and Nelson’s knack for turning a game and BYU’s season around, have a lot of us feeling pretty good as the season begins. But let’s be real for a minute. I also remember watching BYU crumble to Utah in a nightmare loss of 54-10 last year. What team is going to show up this year?

This is where the realist of my experience takes over and comes in to play. I know that every year is drastically different due to players graduating, going on LDS missions or possibly getting hurt. You also have to factor in the possibility of young players coming out of the woodwork to be the next big star at the Y. These are all factors that I look at while getting ready to watch the upcoming games.

The offense and defense are both loaded with depth. That is huge for the Cougars as the majority of the first and second teamers are returning starters made up of juniors and seniors. This is any coach’s dream. With all the good talent in place, let’s just sit back and watch Bronco Mendenhall and his entire staff put the game plans together and enjoy some great college football!

Along with Nelson, here is a short-list of players to keep a close eye on this year: RB Michael Alisa, Jr., who burst on the scene showing flashes of power and speed; WR Cody Hoffman, Jr., a do-it-all athlete who should be Nelson’s favorite target; WR Ross Apo, Soph., who has tremendous speed and a ton of potential; LB Kyle Van Noy, Jr., who seems to be in on every play on defense; SS Daniel Sorensen, Jr., who many are comparing to the now-graduated Andrew Rich.

As BYU’s second year of being an Independent begins, the schedule features some impressive foes. The Cougars welcome Oregon State and Hawaii to Lavell Edwards Stadium and take massive road trips to Boise State, Notre Dame and Georgia Tech. BYU opens tonight at home against Washington State. Every game, minus the Weber State game Sept. 8, is going to be on ESPN.

The Cougars however, did not make the preseason Top 25 this year, but that’s not really a surprise. With the tough competition that is scheduled this year, they will have an opportunity to become ranked if and when they win games. Of course, with rankings, it’s all about stringing together consecutive wins. BYU has a strong enough schedule that if the Cougars can pull off wins over Boise State, Washington State, Utah, Oregon State, Notre Dame, and Georgia Tech, you would be talking about a big-time bowl game.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I am a realist. I understand what’s ahead of this entire program this coming year. This schedule is far from padded and if the Cougs can pull off 10-plus wins, it will be another great year for BYU football.

My prediction for this year (as long as there is no crazy unforeseen problem or catastrophe) is that BYU will win 10 total games and go bowling. See you all next week.

~

Scott Young is a sports commentator and the opinions stated are his own and not necessarily those of St. George News.

Email: sports@stgnews.com

Twitter: @oldschoolag

Copyright St. George News, StGeorgeUtah.com Inc., 2012, all rights reserved.

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