BYU Football: Why the Cougars Will Make an Instant Impact as an Independent II

Posted by Jeff Hansen on February-20-2011 Add Comments

Last week I wrote an article about BYU’s biggest offensive weapons next year. Because of those weapons, BYU is going to make an instant impact. But, as anybody that has ever seen even one play of football knows, a team also has to play defense.

As good as the BYU offense will be under Jake Heaps this year, I think that the strong point for the Cougars is on the defensive side of the ball.

After the firing of former defensive coordinator Jamie Hill, BYU’s defense really played well. Coach Bronco Mendenhall took control of the defense and instilled new life into the players. The defense played harder and with more energy, leading the Cougars to a strong finish to the season.

Jamie Hill hasn’t returned to BYU and Mendenhall is still in control of the defense and therefore BYU will play with the same energy as they did before.

The secondary took a major hit with the departures of safety Andrew Rich, and corners Brian Logan and Brandon Bradley; however, BYU fans need not worry, they will quickly forget about those players.

Jordan Pendleton

The explosive outside linebacker is back for another season this year. It feels that he has been at BYU forever, but he still has one more year on this Cougar defense. Pendleton is fast, he hits hard and has the ability to get to the quarterback. Last season in the game against Utah State, Pendleton sustained a knee injury that forced him to miss some time. When he came back he wasn’t the same player because of that knee. Heading into 2011, Pendleton is healthy and ready to lead the defense for the Cougars.

Uona Kaveinga


Kaveinga has yet to play a down for the Cougars. The USC transfer was forced to sit out last season due to NCAA regulations. This one seems simple, if Kaveinga is good enough for USC, then he is good enough for BYU. At 5’11” and 255 pounds, Kaveinga brings some much-needed size to the Cougar defense. Look for his name early in the season and don’t forget it. Kaveinga will have a standout year for BYU.

Kyle Van Noy

If there was any benefit to Pendleton’s knee injury, it was the emergence of Kyle Van Noy. Van Noy played very well for the Cougars last season. He has a special ability to get into the backfield early and is possibly BYU’s best pass rusher. Last season the words “raw talent” were frequently used to describe Van Noy. This year I look for Van Noy to harness that raw talent and become a better football players. Van Noy, Pendleton and Kaveinga provide a very, very good linebacker corps for BYU.

If I were just focusing on linebackers, Brandon Ogletree would be here. He played well for BYU last year and will do so again this year.

Romney Fuga

For those of you who don’t remember Fuga, maybe the name John Bender will spark a few memories. Fuga was the victim of a controversial play against Nevada last year involving a block from Nevada’s Bender. As a result of the play, Fuga blew his knee out and was lost for the season.

The senior nose tackle hopes to be fully healed in time to play in the opener against Ole Miss. Fuga was a leader on the defense before the injury last year. With good size and surprisingly good speed, Fuga is a great talent. Because of the position he plays, he doesn’t rack up statistics that would shock you, but Fuga is involved in every play. He is a great nose tackle that looks to have his biggest season of his BYU career this season.

Former BYU defensive end Jan Jorgenson was brief in his description of Fuga saying, “The kid is an NFL talent.”

Hebron Fangupo

Fangupo brings more size to the defensive line. The USC transfer has only one year of eligibility left and hopes to make this his best year. He has been hampered by injuries at USC and wasn’t getting the time that he felt he deserved. Like Kaveinga, this one can be easily summarized; “If he’s good enough for USC, then he’s good enough for BYU.”

Alongside Fuga, and Eathyn Manumaleuna, the defensive line that was questionable last year looks to be a strong point this year.

The BYU secondary remains a question this year. They will be led by Travis Uale and Corby Eason, two serviceable players, but not bona fide weapons like the rest of this list.

Only time will tell if BYU can play as well as their talent level, but with weapons on both sides of the ball, and a defense led by Coach Mendenhall, I expect this team to have a very strong year for the Cougars.

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