BYU Football Countdown: Player 25 - Luke Staley
The start of the BYU Football season is now only 25 days away.
25 days! We are three quarters the way through the BYU Football Countdown and if you back and read all of the articles, I guarantee you will learn more about individual players than any other source.
Yesterday in practice, Offensive Coordinator Jeff Grimes said that although he would love to have a main running back, a guy who can go off for 1,000 yards in a season, it is also important to have five guys who can be dangerous runners for depth and a different look.
The Cougars appear to at least have four with Emmanuel Esukpa, Lopini Katoa, Tyler Allgier and Ty'Son Williams. While it is unclear which of the four of these will emerge as the go-to running back, it is nice to know that there are at least some options in the backfield and if there is an injury the season won't be over like it was for the player who we feature today.
Today's player in the countdown features a running back that seemed to make or break the team in 2001.
No. 25 Luke Staley - Running Back - 1999-2001
Luke Staley perhaps had the best individual running back season ever for BYU Football when he was the backbone in 2001. He helped the team with 1,582 rushing yards in just 11 games to help the Cougars start off the season 11-0 and be ranked as high as ninth in the nation.
While Brandon Doman, a very capable and good quarterback, passed the ball for 3,542 yards, it was Staley who opened up the passing game for Doman. With Staley able to pick up 5-7 yards every carry, defenses had to load up the box to try to slow him down, opening up the field for passing lanes.
The Cougar's defense was not very good in 2001, giving up 30 or more points nine out of the twelve games. Because of that, Staley had to help keep the Cougars on the field with tough running and time management runs to give the defense rest.
When Staley had 100+ rushing yards, the team went 10-0. When he didn't play or have 100 yards the team was 9-7. If that doesn't tell you the impact that he had on the team I don't know what will. Brandon Doman, Charlie Peterson and Kevin Feterik were all decent quarterbacks (Doman was actually pretty great) but without Staley able to keep the defenses honest, 1999-2001 may be about as memorable as the past two seasons of BYU Football.
For some reason Luke Staley was not utilized very much his freshmen season despite probably being the best option to use. Despite that, he ended his three year career with some really good statistics. 2,502 rushing yards, 975 receiving yards, and 48 total touchdowns. Despite only starting for two seasons, he is the all-time leader in career touchdowns. He also holds the single season record for rushing yards in a single season, and again that was without the final two games. He had an outside chance (very outside) of being BYU's first ever 2,000 yard rusher. But who knows, maybe against Hawaii he would have gone off for 240 yards and would have only needed another 175 in the bowl game.
Memorable Moments B+
Luke Staley is on the extreme end of both sides of memorable moments. First with the bad. Like Taysom Hill, Staley had the "what if" moment for BYU Football. Staley was unable to play for the final two games of his career. While the Cougars may have not still beaten Hawaii (they lost 72-45) there still will always be the question of "what if". What if Staley's absence lowered the morale of the team? What if the reason the Cougar defense gave up so many points is because of three and outs that would have been prevented had Staley been in the game? Regardless, the team will always have the what if with that game, a game that if won would have likely been ranked in the top six, guaranteeing a big bowl game.
On a positive note, he also had a ton of great memorable moments with the game winning touchdown against Utah in 2001, a 201 yard four touchdown scoring game against Utah State, and a 187 yard performance against UNLV in a 10-7 win. The most memorable however, is as just mentioned the play against Utah that started the Cougars off to an 11-0 start in the first year after Lavell Edwards' departure.