You'd be hard-pressed to find a team that plays four more high-profile games than BYU does in the month of September. The Cougars open at Nebraska, host Boise State and then travel to UCLA and Michigan to start the season.
That's quite a gauntlet.
Be that as it may, Taysom Hill and the Cougars are a proud and confident bunch that is ready to take on all comers. Hill — a Heisman candidate a season ago before going down with a leg injury — has said recently that he feels like his team will be in position to win every game on its schedule. If that is going to happen, he'll need a lot of support from teammates on both sides of the ball. There are four players in particular who could hold the key to how BYU kicks off and subsequently finishes the 2015 campaign. If these players can step up and play up to or beyond their potential, the ceiling is pretty high for the Cougars this season.
Here are the "wild card" players for BYU in 2015.
Jamaal Williams, Running Back
After rushing for more than 1,200 yards in 2013, injuries plagued his '14 campaign and limited him to 518 total yards on the ground. It appears he's now healthy. With Williams behind Hill in the Cougar backfield, defenses will need to account for two elite runners on every down. That will open up BYU's underrated and already efficient passing game.
Brad Wilcox, Left Tackle
After seeing time in all 13 of BYU's games a season ago, Wilcox steps into the starting left tackle role. Obviously, he'll be charged with protecting his uber-talented quarterback's blindside. Additionally, he'll play a key role in BYU's running game — especially on off-tackle dives and quarterback keepers/designed runs — against some extremely talented defensive front sevens throughout the season.
Bronson Kaufusi, Defensive End
Bronson, the son of BYU's defensive line coach Steve Kaufusi, is projected by many to be one of the better pass rushers in the nation. He'll need to live up to those expectations and possibly exceed them in order for BYU to fulfill Hill's prophecy of being in position to win every game. The Cougars will likely play in many high-scoring shootouts, so Kaufusi should get plenty of opportunities to tee off on opposing signal-callers.
Sione Takitaki, Linebacker
Takitaki should end up being the youngest starter in the linebacking corps. He saw considerable playing time a season ago, using his elite athleticism to make a handful of key plays throughout the season. He has the talent to be one of the better linebackers in the nation. If he can realize his potential in 2015, it'll go a long way in making BYU's defense one to be feared by every opponent on the schedule.