Starters returning: 4
Starters returning: 7
In the past two seasons the BYU offense has featured college football's most consistent aerial act, one that has produced 18 victories, two Western Athletic Conference co-championships and some of the happiest fans in America. While others worry about establishing a running game, Coach LaVell Edwards again plans to cut off BYU foes with the pass, for the following reason: 6'5" Quarterback Marc Wilson. Wilson threw for 2,418 yards and 24 touchdowns in seven starts after a knee injury ended Gifford Nielsen's college career, and BYU wound up with the NCAA team passing title (341.6 yards a game).
"I picked up a mountain of confidence," Wilson, now a junior, says. "It wasn't all peaches and cream but, all in all, it hardened me to the glory and frustrations a quarterback can go through."
There are a number of Cougars who can come out of the backfield on delays, sprintouts and quick pops over the middle, but Wilson's prime receivers are All-Conference Flanker Mike Chronister and Tight End Tod Thompson, who together accounted for 75 receptions, 1,251 yards and 19 touchdowns a year ago. More of the same can be expected if Edwards succeeds in rebuilding his offensive line. Center Tom Miller is the only returning starter up front, and with rivals having to worry little about the run, a big pass-blocking line is a must.
The defensive line was also stripped by graduation. Edwards says he is confident that Wilson will be well protected and that the defense headed by Matt Mendenhall, a 6'6", 230-pound end, and Linebackers Larry Miller and Rod Wood again will take the sting out of turnovers.
More worrisome is a schedule that leads off with Oregon State and Arizona State—both beat BYU last year—and includes a Nov. 11 showdown with San Diego State, the newest member of the WAC. The Cougar-Aztec game should decide the conference championship. It's a cinch to fill the sky over Provo with flying footballs.