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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Future looks bright for BYU, freshman

With the 2010 BYU football season coming to a close with a dominating 52-24 win over UTEP, Cougar faithful have a lot to look forward to come next year.

Jake Heaps, game MVP, continued to show his steady improvement and ability to manage the offense throwing 25-34 for 264 yards, with 4 TD strikes and 1 interception. Of those 4 TD tosses, three of them went to Cody Hoffman, who finished the game with 8 catches for 137 yards and 3 scores. BYU's running game, not to be overlooked, compiled over 200 yards on the ground with 3 TD's, led by 101 yards and a touchdown from Josh Quezada.

So why do these three guys make BYU's future look bright?

They are all freshman.

Hoffman continues to rise
With his 4 scoring passes, Jake Heaps moved past BYU great Ty Detmer as the all-time record holder for BYU freshman TD passes with 15 on the year (Detmer 13). Heaps ends his true freshman campaign with 2,316 yards passing 15 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. Not blow you away numbers, but enough to turn this squad around and win a bowl game after a dreadful 1-4 start. He again showed his great ability to throw the long ball with touch, on 2 of his touchdown passes to Hoffman. Heaps showed the national audience (which was probably more than showed up for the game) what Cougar Nation has to be excited about come next fall when the Cougars begin their independence.

Cody Hoffman's presence wasn't only felt on the receiving end of Heaps passes, but also in the return game. He returned one kickoff for 51 yards, setting BYU up with a short field that eventually led to a BYU touchdown (as did most of their drives). Overall he averaged 25 yards a return along with 17 yards a catch. Hoffman ends the season with 42 catches, good for 527 yards and 7 scores, making him the leading receiver as far as yards and touchdowns go for the BYU offense.

Josh Quezada

With his second best rushing performance of his young career, Josh Quezada anchored the BYU ground game. Averaging 6.7 yards a carry on only 15 attempts while compiling 101 yards rushing, "Juice" showed what he can do, while combining moves with power throughout the game. His freshman totals for the season come in at 99 carries for 505 yards (5.1 yards per carry) adding 5 scores. With his 500 yards, that gives BYU 3 rushers with over 500 yards on the season, all of which return next year for this up and coming football team.

Much was made of BYU's turnaround this year. After starting 1-4, and suffering a infrequent loss to in-state rival Utah State, the cougars won 6 of their next 8. This just might be the best coaching job head coach Bronco Mendenhall has put together in his young 6 year career at BYU. The defense went from one of the worst rushing defenses in the country, to top 35 in the country during Bronco's time as defensive coordinator.

Bronco said he wanted "to find the heart of this team," and make it stronger. I think he did just that. What started as an obvious rebuilding year after losing 3 offensive stars (Max Hall, Dennis Pitta, Harvey Unga) all to the NFL, turned out to be a great building block for great seasons to come.

BYU returns 10 of 11 starters on offense next season, including the terrific trio of freshman. As long as they continue to gel, and Bronco continues to lead, we will continue to see this BYU team improve and take home wins. Wins that might even be worse than Saturdays route.

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