Home > BYU Football > Can the Cougars repeat 1996? Similarities are everywhere

Can the Cougars repeat 1996? Similarities are everywhere

By Harper Anderson

Sports Editor at The Student Review

Everybody loves a comparison. Whether it be of a former flame with a current flame, your gut to the person’s gut next to you, or even Coke to Pepsi. It’s our way of life. Now, I’m no expert (in pretty much anything, except when to not tell my girlfriend she is wrong, and according to her I’m not even an expert in that). But I assume we’re into comparing because we like the comfort of being potentially assured of our hope. That’s what it all stems from. Hope.

I hope this 2012 BYU football season mimics the beloved 1996 season, which is why I choose to compare the two.

First and foremost there is Riley Nelson to Steve Sarkisian. At first glance, you wouldn’t think to compare the them to each other, but at second glance you may find a hidden gem or two. They first got their start as a BYU quarterback in their junior year. They *both won seven games their junior year as a starter. Sarkisian threw 20 touchdowns his junior year, Nelson threw 19. And most importantly, both have the insuppressible  will to win.

Each squad opened their senior year with a victory over a **BCS school. It didn’t take more than two weeks for either team to be ranked in the top 25. The defense has been particularly dominant so far this season, level of competition notwithstanding. ‘96 BYU finished the season first in the WAC in total yards allowed per game (316) and rushing yards allowed per game (125). Thus far BYU’s defense has allowed 55 rushing ypg, and 184 passing ypg.

The ’96 crew had a dominant linebacker crew led by senior Shay Muirbrook and a blossoming Rob Morris. Which is now being mirrored by ’12 senior Brandon Ogletree with an even potentially better supporting cast in Kyle Van Noy, Spencer Hadley, and physical phenomenon Ezekial Ansah, who linebackers coach Brady Poppinga repeatedly says could be in the NFL already if he only knew the game a little better. (It’s true, he said it. You can quote him — and me — on it.)

With all of that said, BYU’s talent level has increased ten-fold. We have never seen a receiving crew quite like Cody Hoffman and Ross Apo (who has stated he will be playing this Saturday).

The bottom line is this Utah game could make or break the Cougars’ 2012 season. Not because they’re our arch-rival. But rather this is the game that will be the first real test for BYU. BYU’s coaches have traditionally done a good job of ensuring that their players treat every game like it’s their first test. Good thing — that may just be the mentality that will keep the ceiling high this year.

And besides the disappointing Washington game for the ’96 team, we’d be lucky to see a reminiscent season for our 2012 cougars.

*Nelson didn’t play a full season like Sarkisian, but both won seven games.
**The BCS wasn’t around then, but you get the idea. Not to mention the Big XII was one of the toughest conferences in the 90’s (still is), and Texas A&M opened the season in the top 25.


Harper Anderson | harperdanderson@gmail.com | 801 707 9606 | @Harpey7

Categories: BYU Football
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