Last season, the BYU defensive unit was considered by some to be one of the best in the program's history. It's tough to argue with that fact, seeing how the defense finished 2012 ranked No. 3 nationally in total defense, finishing behind only Alabama and Florida State. The Cougars held oppenents to an average of 266.1 yards per game, the lowest since 1974 when the defense held opposing offenses to an average of 261 yards. Overall, the powerhouse held seven top-10 defensive rankings, including six top-5 rankings highlighted by the No.1-ranked 3rd down defense and the No. 2 red zone defense.
This season, there are high expectations for the defense even though there are only five returning starters from a year ago. Returning are linebackers Kyle Van Noy and Spencer Hadley, safeties Daniel Sorensen and Craig Bills and defensive lineman Eathyn Manumaleuna. Joining them on the starting defense are new faces and familiar ones. Defensive lineman Bronson Kaufusi and linebackers Uani Unga and Alani Fua saw action in every game last season while lineman Remington Peck played in nine games. Cornerback Skye PoVey played in three games last season and cornerback Robertson Daniel made his first career and game action for BYU against Virginia.
With all the new starters and contributers who saw action in the game against Virginia, nine players tied or set a new career high in tackles. Manumaleuna and Unga led the way with 10 tackles each, a career high for both players.
In the season opener, the defense allowed only 223 total yards to Virginia, ranking No. 15 nationally in total defense. Last season the Cougars held oppenents to a 26.52 percent conversion rate on third downs and they held the Cavaliers to 30 percent on third down last week.
In 2012, the defense held 10 oppenents to under 300 yards of total offense and went 8-2 in those games. At one point during the 2012 campaign, the Cougars had held 12 straight teams to under 300 yards of total offense. Holding Texas to under 300 yards of total offense will help determine if BYU comes out on top.
With the start of fall classes, the BYU football team added several new players to its roster. The new additions include sophomores Chase Frei and Benson Manwaring along with 10 freshmen in Chris Badger, Michael Edmunds, Porter Hansen, Brad Heap, Adam Ingersoll, Garrett Juergens, Mitchell Juergens, David Kessler, Shad Pace and Nephi Stevens.