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The replacement for Zach Wilson could be walking into a loaded situation with weapons aplenty when the Cougars open camp in August.

An argument could be made that the heir apparent at QB, most likely Jaren Hall or Jacob Conover, will have far more experience and talent around him than Wilson did when he began what turned out to be an 11-1 season and national ranking, albeit a strange COVID-19-impacted campaign.

It is very important that this offense got 12 games of experience under its belt, plus a full spring practice. The Pac-12 and Big Ten did not, barely half of that in 2020.

Is it a better situation for the quarterback? Former Cougars Reno Mahe and Ross Apo believe it is. Here is an analysis I did with former Cougar QB Riley Nelson on this very issue.

There are others who argue it doesn’t matter. BYU’s schedule was so easy last year, the Cougars are in for some trouble in 2021 with this tougher slate. Regardless, we will know quick enough with the opener with Arizona, the showdown with Utah and the Arizona State game after that. Nobody’s cutting any corners or getting off easy. This schedule demands hard work and execution.

Cougar Insider’s prediction

This week’s question: Is BYU football’s running back, tight end and receiver depth a big enough parachute to make Zach Wilson’s successor see an easier path with a tougher schedule in 2021?

Jay Drew: My short answer: No. There’s no question that BYU’s skill position players in 2021 should be as good as they’ve ever been, especially with the addition of the Nacua brothers, Samson and Puka.

Throw in touchdown-catching machine Isaac Rex at tight end and top running backs Tyler Allgeier and Lopini Katoa, and the Cougars will have weapons galore. The big question is this: Who’s going to block for these guys? 

The answer: a couple of veterans (James Empey, Blake Freeland) and a bunch of guys without much experience. So, no, the path won’t be easier for whichever QB gets the nod. BYU’s offensive line won’t be as good as it was last year.

Dick Harmon: I believe Wilson’s replacement has far more depth, experience and talent than Zach started the season within 2020. I also believe the offense is far more defined and has a much clearer identity after the Navy opener last season than it was heading into that season. I believe that Hall, Baylor Romney or Conover will be beneficiaries big-time from this.

I do believe that a big chunk of the success of this coming season depends on how effective the new offensive line coach Darrel Funk is. He must own this offensive line fast and the players must believe in him, trust him and work for him. If Aaron Roderick dials up protection or a run play and asks Funk to make it happen, he must deliver. If he doesn’t, this offense could struggle. I like all the playmakers on offense. I think it can be explosive and consistent right out of the chute and Allgeier could end up becoming one of the all-time best, as could tight end Issac Rex and receiver Puka Nacua at receiver. I will caution that Puka is recovering from two foot surgeries and hopefully he will be fully healed in time for fall camp. 

Cougar tales

Incoming freshman power forward Foussseyn Traore played a significant minutes in Mali’s national team loss to Team USA which was led by a Gonzaga-bound national No. 1 recruit in an international tournament. Traore ended up leading the game in rebounds. Here is a report on that game from Ryan McDonald.

BYU-bound Jake Orr won the 800-meter at The Outdoor Nationals in Eugene, Oregon, with a personal best. Read the story by Doug Robinson here.

Here’s a roundup of football recruits who have an interest in signing with the Cougars, or have already committed. Peter Falaniko announced his commitment to Kalani Sitake this past weekend. Orem offensive lineman Vae Soifua also made a pledge to sign. 

The recent NCAA rule change that followed a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that college players must be allowed to profit from the name, image, and likeness has colleges scurrying. Here’s my analysis of the issue and challenge.

From the archives

BYU’s running backs willing to shoulder the load as offense replaces Zach Wilson
Zach Wilson may be wearing out his Jets coaches — but in a good way

From the Twitterverse

Extra points


Comments from Deseret News readers

“BYU is a top 25 athletic program. No gnashing of pathetic teeth can or will change that ... ever. So proud to be a fan and alumnus of one of the best schools in the nation!”

View Comments

— RR

“Wilson proved over the past year that the ceiling is very high for him if he goes out and earns it. Anxious to see how it plays out. If the Jets get to .500, I would say my Ute friends have all been proven wrong. If it’s another 2-win season and he plays badly they will be proven right about all the SOS talk. We shall see pretty soon.”

— intrinsicrewards

Up next

Sept. 4 | 9:30 p.m. | Football | vs. Arizona | @Las Vegas

Sept. 11 | 8:15 p.m. | Football | vs. Utah | @Provo

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