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Bronco Mendenhall BYU team has several veterans returning for 2012 and will face three Pac-12 teams. Photo Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

Know the Opponent: BYU Cougars

Next up is a team that Pac-12 teams will see not once, twice but three times during the non-conference. I’m talking about the BYU Cougars who’ll face Washington State (Aug. 30/ESPN 7:15 pm), travel to Utah (Sept. 15/ESPN2 7 pm) and host the Oregon State (Oct. 13/TBA).

Bronco Mendenhall has a veteran team this season this season in Provo which includes senior quarterback Riley Nelson. Last season Nelson beat out Jake Heaps who has since transferred for the job and helped BYU to a 10-3 record. His numbers were decent as both a running/passing threat having thrown for 1,717 yards with 19 TD’s against seven interceptions.

The Cougars were more of a passing team in 2011 and must replace its leading rusher this season. Junior back Michael Alisa will get the opportunity after running for 455 with three touchdowns. Nelson was third on the team with 392 yards and a score.

In the passing game BYU returns its top three receivers with juniors Cody Hoffman and JD Falslev plus sophomore Ross Apo. Hoffman led the team with 943 yards and 10 TD’s, Apo was second on the team putting up 453 and nine scores. Falslev was third with 330 yards reaching the endzone twice.

Mendenhall who’s known as a defensive coach has a lot coming back from last year’s team. The Cougars bring back its top five tacklers including senior linebacker Brandon Ogletree who had 76 tackles with a interception. Second leading tackler junior linebacker Kyle Van Noy also brings experience with 68 tackles, seven sacks, eight tackles for loss, three pass break-ups and three interceptions.

Senior cornerback Preston Hadley is another player to keep your eye on, he had 14 interceptions in 2011 with 51 tackles. In addition to Hadley, BYU will have senior free safety Joe Sampson, junior strong safety Daniel Sorensen and sophomore corner Jordan Johnson.

As an independent the schedule will be challenging but this team has made a bowl the last five season and in all seven of Bronco previous seasons as head coach. In addition to playing three Pac-12 teams they’ll travel to Boise, Notre Dame and Georgia Tech. With the talent they return a ten plus win season isn’t out of the question in 2012.

2012 BYU Cougars Schedule –

Washington State 8/30
Weber State 9/8
@Utah 9/15
@Boise State 9/20
Hawai’i 9/28
Utah State 10/5
Oregon State 10/13
@Notre Dame 10/20
@Georgia Tech 10/27
Idaho 11/10
@San Jose State 11/17
@New Mexico State 11/24

Check out the entire archive of “Know the Opponents,” a series of all Pac-12 non-conference opponent previews, here.

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Tags: Bronco Mendenhall BYU Cougars Football Independent Oregon State Beavers Pac-12 Riley Nelson Utah Utes Washington State Cougars

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