Numbers and stats haven’t caught fire in college football like we see in basketball or baseball, but we can still pick up on trends from some key statistics.
Here are 10 statistics from the BYU football program that you should be aware of entering the 2017 football season.
1,978: Rushing yards lost between Jamaal Williams and Taysom Hill
One of the biggest questions for BYU in 2017 is how can the Cougars replace the production on the ground from running back Jamaal Williams and quarterback Taysom Hill? Williams ended his BYU career as the school’s all-time leading rusher, and Hill is one of the most dynamic athletes to ever come through Provo. BYU will turn to running backs Squally Canada, Ula Tolutau, and walk-on KJ Hall to shoulder the load early on. But it’s hard to imagine BYU gets anywhere close to the production Williams and Hill produced on the ground a year ago.
19.5: Points allowed per game last season
When Kalani Sitake took over as the head coach at BYU, the expectation was that he would continue the excellence on defense that had become a trademark of Bronco Mendenhall’s teams. Sitake and first-year defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki succeeded as BYU finished 14th nationally in scoring defense, giving up just 19.5 per game. There’s a feeling within the walls at BYU, that the defense in 2017 could be better.
100: BYU hasn’t had a receiver record 100 yards in a single game since... Mitch Mathews in 2015
Fourteen games have passed since a BYU receiver finished with at least 100 yards in a game. That’s far too long for a program that hangs its hat on passing the football. Who will be the receiver to end the drought? Is it speedster Jonah Trinnaman, looking to bounce back entering his senior season? Or will it be one of the youngsters who redshirted last season – Micah Simon or Akile Davis? There’s talent, but no proven commodities yet.
94.55%: Red zone conversion rate in 2016
BYU was excellent in the red zone last season, scoring on nearly 95 percent of its appearances inside the opponent’s 20. That was the fourth-best efficiency rate in the nation, behind only Florida State, Western Michigan and Washington.
+12: Turnover margin in 2016
The Cougars were ball hawks a season ago, recording interceptions in every game, a first in program history. Can that turnover margin hold up this season? Safety Kai Nacua accounted for six of those interceptions and quarterback Tanner Mangum is known to be a gunslinger who will take risks airing it out.
60: BYU’s scoring margin in the fourth quarter in 2016
The Cougars closed strong in games a season ago, outscoring opponents 126-66 in the final quarter. This was one of big reasons BYU was in every game it played last year.
3,377: Tanner Mangum’s passing yards in 2015
Mangum returns back to his post as BYU’s starting quarterback and this year marked the first offseason of Mangum’s career where he knew going into a season that he was atop the depth chart. In Mangum’s lone season as the full-time starter in 2015, he was excellent, throwing for 3,377 yards, which placed him 25th in FBS.
80: Total starts along the offensive line
BYU’s offensive line in 2017 is one of the best out west. The Cougars are led by center Tejan Koroma, who has been a starter since he was a true freshman in 2014. Left tackle Thomas Shoaf emerged last year as a force up front, and guards Keyan Norman and Tuni Kanuch bring a load of experience.
249: Total tackles from BYU’s three starting linebackers in 2016
You’re not going to find many starting lineups at the linebacker spot better in college football than the trio of backers BYU boasts this season. Fred Warner, Butch Pau’u and Francis Bernard all have NFL futures ahead of them and they were tackling machines a year ago with Warner leading the group with 86.
47.69%: Third down conversion percentage in 2016
BYU’s pro-style offense in year one under coordinator Ty Detmer didn’t have many chunk yardage play, but they were sure efficient. The Cougars’ third down conversion rate was 12th best in the nation last season.
— Written by Mitch Harper, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Harper is publisher of Rivals' BYU site, CougarNation.com, and also is the BYU reporter and insider for 1320 KFAN and co-host of "The Cougar Center" podcast. Follow him on Twitter @Mitch_Harper.