The middle of August means one thing, football is right around the corner. August is full of questions for BYU; what will the defensive backfield be without Jordan Johnson? Who will start on the offensive line? Can Taysom Hill throw with accuracy all season? There are so many questions, but only a handful of those questions have definitive answers.
There are a few things, however, that you can take to the bank this year. I’m not condoning any Honor Code violations, but here are five predictions that I’m confident enough to travel across state lines and bet money on.
1. BYU will finally beat Boise State
This year is the year that BYU finally gets the monkey off their back. Chris Peterson is only returning seven starters on this year’s Broncos team and they have as many question marks heading into the season as BYU does. Joe Southwick will return as quarterback, although he wasn’t overly impressive last year as the play caller. BYU has to be confident heading into this game given the way they played last year in Boise with football player (he’s not a quarterback) Riley Nelson under center. BYU will get the win this year in Provo.
2. Jamaal Williams will rush for 1000 yards
Harvey Unga was the last BYU player to rush for 1000 yards in 2009. Not-so-coincidentally, that was the same year that BYU last beat Utah. BYU needs a strong running attack, especially with an unproven Taysom Hill at quarterback, to have a good season this year. Jamaal Williams is the answer. There has been a lot made about “Go fast, Go hard” and it is believed (at least on the internet) that Offensive Coordinator Robert Anae would like to rotate fresh running backs into the game, however, I don’ think that will be the case. Every time BYU makes an offensive substitution, the defense is also allowed to make a substitution. The idea behind an up-tempo offense is to keep the defense on the field and make them tired, but allowing substitutions defeats the purpose. Because of that, I believe Williams will receive the majority of the carries, and I believe he’s talented enough to have a very good season. He will rush for 1200 yards this year.
3. Ross Apo will have 60 catches this season
Last season Cody Hoffman had 100 catches. The second leading receiver was JD Falslev and he had 37 catches. This season, however, will be very different for BYU. In 2008, Max Hall completed 106 passes to Austin Collie and 83 passes to Dennis Pitta. I don’t expect those kinds of numbers this season, but I do expect Hoffman and Ross Apo to have stellar seasons. Hoffman is dynamic, but he I don’t think he’ll catch 100 balls again this season. Taysom Hill is a quarterback. He looks through his progressions and finds open receivers. Riley Nelson was not a quarterback and he threw it at (not necessarily to) Hoffman every chance he got. Because BYU will be playing with a quarterback this season, Apo will have more opportunities for catches this season and Hoffman will likely have less. This year Apo breaks out and has at least 60 catches.
4. Taysom Hill will start the year at quarterback and finish the year at quarterback
Max Hall was the last BYU quarterback to start week 1 and start the bowl game at the end of the year. For three solid years, BYU has been surrounded by controversy at the quarterback position. I’m not going to say Hill will start every game this season, because I don’ think that he will, but I do think he’s going to be the starter as long as he is healthy. And, because coaches are more cautious about the hits their quarterbacks are taking this year, Hill won’t suffer a season ending injury. He’s set for a good season.
5. BYU will beat Utah before the rivalry goes on leave
This is the most uncertain of my five certainties, but BYU will win the rivalry game this year. Each year this game is played it’s virtually a toss up to pick the winner. Most of the time, including this year, the teams are evenly matched and it’s a close game. Due to Utah’s recent dominance in the series, however, BYU is more desperate than they have ever been to get a win over their rivals. This year, before the game takes a hiatus, BYU will get a win. There is no statistical analysis that can be given to show why BYU will win, but rather, an increased need for a win and the return of seniors Cody Hoffman and Kyle Van Noy will be what puts BYU over the top this season. BYU wins in Provo.