When doing the Did you know? piece yesterday, it occurred to me that BYU's All-America linebacking candidate had done something special in each of the previous three games the Cougars played against schools for the first time.
At Ole Miss, Van Noy won the game for BYU by forcing a fumble while sacking the Rebels quarterback and returning that fumble for a touchdown. In the UCF game, Van Noy tipped a pass that was intercepted, and make a big sack on the final series of the game to preserve a seven point win for BYU.
The first meeting with New Mexico State, he was one tackle shy of tying for the team high, had two tackles for loss, and three quarterback hurries (which was his career high until the Texas game this year).
Makes you wonder what Van Noy has up his sleeve to introduce the Blue Raiders to BYU football.
2. Stress test for the Cougars.
BYU was in a similar state two years ago after losing to Utah. Fans were angry, and the season was not shaping up the way the coaches and players had wanted. When UCF came to town, the failed expectations were too much for the BYU offense to handle. Crumbling under the stress, BYU had to rely on big special teams plays and strong defense to win the game. The next game, the Cougar offense was even worse and a quarterback change had to be made.
How will the 2013 Cougars handle being 1-2 and coming off a disappointing loss to the Utes?
3. Will the offense be without running back Jamaal Williams?
A big factor influencing how BYU responds, especially the offense, will be if Jamaal Williams will play. He left the Utah game on a stretch and was taken to the hospital to have his back and neck examined. While all those tests came back negative, he was diagnosed with a concussion.
BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall indicated Williams could be back as soon as four days from the concussion, but one has to wonder if having Williams play would be prudent, even if he passes all concussion tests?
Williams is BYU's second leading rusher with 378 yards. Losing him would be a huge blow to the offensive attack. Someone like Paul Lasike, Michael Alisa, or Adam Hine would need to step up in a big way.
Speaking of Adam Hine, he has had big kickoff returns called back in each of the first three games. Will this finally be the game he breaks one and it can stand on the official game records? Kickoff returns can be a game changer. Not knowing whether Williams will play, or be effective if he does play, it could be a huge boost if Hine can give the offense great field position or even take one all the way to the house.
5. Will Cody Hoffman score a touchdown?
BYU's go to receiver is without a touchdown in 2013. He missed the first game with a hamstring injury, and has made 10 grabs for 171 yards in games two and three. Add that to his touchdown-less Poinsettia Bowl, and Hoffman is on the verge of going four games without finding the end zone.
The BYU passing game has struggled, and getting Hoffman in to the end zone may be just what it takes to open the airwaves the way everyone expects in Provo.
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