2023 BYU Cougars Football Season Preview

Get ready for an insightful interview with Jay Drew, a respected and knowledgeable college football analyst, as he imparts his expert insights on the highly anticipated 2023 season of the BYU Cougars. In this exclusive conversation with CFBDynasty, Drew will discuss the team’s strengths, potential challenges, standout players, and overall outlook for the upcoming season. This interview promises to provide a comprehensive preview of what fans can expect from the BYU Cougars in 2023, offering valuable information and a profound understanding of the team’s prospects.

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Let’s get into our Q&A session with Jay Drew! He covers BYU Cougars football for the Deseret News website. Follow him on Twitter and subscribe to his show for all the latest and greatest Cougars information.

What's your favorite place to eat in Provo?

I live in the Salt Lake City area, about 40 miles away from Provo, so I can’t say I am an expert on the local cuisine around BYU’s campus. I do like Bam Bam’s BBQ in nearby Orem for authentic central Texas barbecue, and Chubby’s Cafe, a family owned burger joint in Pleasant Grove and a hangout for hardcore Cougar fans.

Inside LaVell Edwards Stadium, visitors should save room for a “CougarTail” — which is really just an oversized maple bar but beloved by BYU fans, perhaps because of the name.

Overall, how do you believe the offense will compare to the 2022 version?

BYU’s offense in 2023 will do well to duplicate what the Cougars were able to do in 2022, mostly because quarterback Jaren Hall, receiver Puka Nacua and offensive tackle Blake Freeland have moved on to the NFL. Those were BYU’s three best players last season, arguably. So there is bound to be some drop-off, unless Pitt/USC transfer QB Kedon Slovis can rediscover some of the magic he displayed with the Trojans early in his career. UNLV transfer RB Aidan Robbins could be an upgrade in that department. Time will tell.

What do you expect from the QB position in 2023?

As mentioned, luring Slovis to Provo was a big get for BYU’s offensive coaches, because Hall’s backup in 2022, Jacob Conover, transferred to Arizona State. Slovis drew rave reviews in spring camp for his readiness level, his leadership ability, and his grasp of OC Aaron Roderick’s complicated offense. Traditionally, BYU goes as its quarterback goes, so a lot will be put on Slovis’ shoulders. BYU QBs rarely go through the season unscathed, so if Slovis can’t go there is some depth behind him, as BYU landed one of the top junior college QBs in the country, Jake Retzlaff, out of Riverside, California.

How do you see the workload at RB being distributed?

The aforementioned Robbins, who began his career at Louisville before transferring to UNLV, should be the workhorse back that Roderick likes to have. However, Hinckley Ropati emerged late in the season last year and provides a nice change of pace. And expectations are high for four-star recruit LJ Martin, a running back from El Paso, Texas. Other returners who could see some action include speedster Miles Davis and versatile weapon Sol-Jay Maiava-Peters, who was the hero of BYU’s New Mexico Bowl win over SMU last December — playing quarterback. 

How does the offensive line compare to the 2022 group?

Roderick and offensive line coach Darrell Funk have said this group could be more athletic than the 2022 group, which is saying something considered Freeland was the star of the NFL combine, as far as putting up eye-popping numbers was concerned. BYU hit the transfer portal hard for some replacements, and landed Utah’s Paul Maile, Missouri State’s Ian Fitzgerald, Utah State’s Weylin Lapuaho and Oklahoma State’s Caleb Etienne. But the star of the O line will be Oregon transfer Kingsley Suamataia, quite likely a first-round pick in next April’s NFL draft.

What do you think the distribution will be to the WR/TE's?

Tight end Isaac Rex is slowly getting back to his freshman form after sustaining a devastating lower leg injury in the 2021 regular-season finale against USC. If he’s healthy, Rex is one of the top TEs in the country and will see a lot of passes from Slovis. The duo has already developed some good chemistry, they’ve said. Kody Epps, Chase Roberts and Keanu Hill are back as receivers, but the Cougars hit the portal for more weapons and landed Eastern Michigan’s Daruis Lassiter and UConn’s Keelan Marion.

For our dynasty fantasy freaks, who are some young players that stand out as potential future breakout players?

Kody Epps was putting together a great season last year before sustaining a shoulder injury in the Liberty game that curtailed his rise. After briefly entering the transfer portal, he returned and should be a productive pass-catcher in 2023, BYU’s first season in the Big 12. Rex has the starting TE spot nailed down, but expectations are high for incoming freshman Jackson Bowers of Mesa, Arizona, a four-star recruit who OC Roderick has already said could make an instant impact in Provo. 

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