WHO: BYU (8-4) vs. Wyoming (8-5)
WHAT: The 12th San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl
WHEN: 9:00 p.m. ET on ESPN
WHERE: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, CA
THE SKINNY: Former conference foes square off in this year’s San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl when BYU faces Wyoming in San Diego. The two once faced each other regularly in the WAC and the Mountain West Conference before BYU opted to go independent in football during a massive conference realignment process, but this will be the first meeting between the two programs since 2010.
BYU lost starting quarterback Taysom Hill to a season-ending injury in the last game of the regular season so it will be Tanner Mangum getting the start at quarterback for the Cougars, which means a slightly different offensive approach. BYU likes to run the football, as they should with Jamaal Williams among the nation’s leading rushers with 1,165 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns this season, but having Mangum at quarterback could lead to more passing plays for the Cougars. Mangum passed for 3,377 yards and 23 touchdowns a season ago, so you know he is capable of tossing the ball around if called for.
Wyoming will look to end a wonderful turn-around season on a high note. In Craig Bohl’s third season as head coach of the program after leaving behind FCS juggernaut North Dakota State, Bohl has built a winner. Wyoming won just two game sin 2015 but put together eight wins this season and captured the Mountain Division championship to play for the Mountain West Conference championship. Though the Cowboys came up short in the conference championship game (losing to San Diego State), the Cowboys won games during the regular season against San Diego State and Boise State as well as Air Force and Colorado State. Progress has already been made under Bohl, but a bowl victory against BYU would be a fitting end to a successful season.
Wyoming will look to get running back Brian Hill in rhythm, but doing so against BYU’s defensive front should prove to be one of the more difficult challenges faced this season. Defense is where BYU has the advantage against Wyoming, and it should prove to be the difference in what should be an entertaining Poinsettia Bowl.
THE PREDICTION: BYU 34, Wyoming 30
And the hits just keep on coming on the offensive side of the ball for BYU.
Earlier this month it was announced that star running back Jamaal Williams had withdrawn from school and would not play for the Cougars at all in 2015. Shortly thereafter, head coach Bronco Mendenhall announced that starting tight end Steven Richards will not play at all in 2015 because of injury.
Richards sustained a non-contact injury to his right knee during Monday’s practice. He will undergo surgery to repair the unspecified damage in the near future.
While Richards took a redshirt for his true freshman season last year — he was a two-star member of BYU’s 2012 recruiting class who went on a mission prior to joining the Cougars — he entered camp as the No. 1 tight end, and held on to that spot on the depth chart all the way up until Monday’s injury.
In addition to the injury woes for two starters, “10-ish” players are expected to be suspended for the opener against Nebraska because of their role in the infamous bowl brawl. The names of the suspended ones haven’t been divulged.
(Photo credit: BYU athletics)
This is what you would call a significant — and unexpected — August development.
BYU announced Thursday afternoon that star running back Jamaal Williams has withdrawn from school for what was only described as “personal reasons.” Right now the plan is for Williams to redshirt the 2015 season, then return for the 2016 season, head coach Bronco Mendenhall stated.
The announcement is the most recent down-tick in a career that’s seen its share of highs (mostly) and lows (some).
Williams has led the Cougars in rushing each of the last three years, totaling 2,526 yards and 23 touchdowns in that span. He’s added 53 receptions coming out of the backfield.
He was the leading rusher in 2014 despite missing a total of six games, the opener because of a suspension for underage consumption of alcohol and the final four games because of a significant knee injury.
The loss of Williams is a sizable one for a BYU team that opens the 2015 season with games against Nebraska, Boise State, UCLA and Michigan, with just one of those contests, against the Broncos, in Provo.
Earlier this week, Memphis announced suspensions, ranging from half-game to two-game as well banishment from other team activities such as practices and scrimmages, for 12 unnamed players for their roles in the Miami Beach Brawl. For those expecting BYU to do the same, don’t hold your breath.
In September of 2013, BYU announced a five-game suspension for star linebacker Spencer Hadley for violating the university’s honor code. Since then, the football program has adopted a policy of not announcing suspensions any of its football players may be facing. Last season, the athletic department publicly acknowledged a Jamaal Williams one-suspension only after the star running back forced its hand by divulging it on social media and to the regular media.
As Dick Harmon of the Deseret News wrote Wednesday, “the school is out of the ‘announcing student-athlete punishment’ business.” Just because the handling of the aftermath of the brawl following December’s Miami Beach Bowl has been kept behind closed doors at BYU doesn’t mean, though, it’s not being taken seriously. In fact, it appears quite the opposite is the case as, again, Harmon notes.
What is known is that BYU officials and the school’s governing board of trustees were not happy campers about the incident. Discussions and phone calls took place immediately after that game, according to sources close to the situation.
Bottom line is BYU got serious real fast about this incident. It may not have been the first to publicly announce it, as Memphis did, but there has been plenty of sleep lost over this.
As for specific punitive measures any number of Cougar brawl participants may be facing, those “could include extra running (including stairs), being prohibited from attending team functions, being suspended from winter workouts with the team and trainers, missing spring practice, missing part or all of fall camp, or missing part of a game or an entire game or two,” Harmon wrote.
BYU will play the rest of the 2014 season without one of its top offensive players, again. Running back Jamaal Williams will miss the final three games of the season after injuring his knee against Middle Tennessee State.
BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall said Williams will undergo surgery on Tuesday for significant injuries. Mendenhall confirmed the injury will keep Williams out for the rest of the season. The injury to Williams occurred late in the third quarter of BYU’s victory over Middle Tennessee. Nate Carter has been listed behind Williams on the depth chart, but it is unconfirmed now who will step up to replace Williams out of the backfield for BYU.
Williams was BYU’s leading rusher with 518 yards. He had been tasked with carrying the load of the offense since the injury to quarterback Taysom Hill, who was lost for the season with a broken leg in early October. At 5-4, BYU is one win shy of clinching its spot in the Miami Beach Bowl. As long as BYU can clinch bowl eligibility, the Cougars have a spot reserved in the new bowl game. BYU should be able to get at least one more win with three remaining games against UNLV, Savannah State and California.