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QB drama takes center stage this weekend (and weekly predictions)

Utah, USU, BYU quarterbacks could be shuffled around for Boise State, USF, WSU games

Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Jaren Hall (3) runs with the ball during a game against Arizona State.
BYU quarterback Jaren Hall runs with the ball during game against Arizona State at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021. The Cougars play South Florida Saturday night at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
Shafkat Anowar, Deseret News

Quarterbacks could steal the spotlight this weekend when Utah hosts Washington State, BYU takes on South Florida and Utah State tries to knock off Boise State in Logan right after breakfast on Saturday.

How many teams can lose a QB and actually not do a lot of fretting about it?

The locals, of course.

Utah thinks it can rise up the in Pac-12 play after quarterback Charlie Brewer left the program following Cam Rising taking over in a triple-overtime loss to San Diego State. The Utes are hoping Rising’s mobility and stronger arm will fix the protection issues and a dearth of downfield passing.

On the other hand, the Utes’ foe, Washington State, may be without starting QB Jayden de Laura, who will likely be replaced by transfer Jarrett Guarantano or Lehi’s Cammon Cooper, a redshirt junior.

QB drama?

Count on it.

At BYU, offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick may hold out starter Jaren Hall (bruised ribs) and play Baylor Romney, who is 2-0 all time and 1 for 1 with one game-clinching TD pass this season after his heroics in a win over Arizona State last week. Romney led BYU to wins over Utah State and Boise State in 2019 when Zach Wilson sat out injured.

In Logan, USU looks like it is interchangeable at QB. When starter Logan Bonner was leading the Aggies past Air Force and got injured, Andrew Peasley stepped in and the Aggies never took the foot off the pedal in feeding NCAA receptions leader Deven Thompkins.

This week is an intriguing set of home games for a myriad of reasons and QB play will be in the thick of it.

The Utes begin Pac-12 play in unfamiliar territory at 1-2, Utah State is up-and-coming, undefeated and will try to dethrone the MWC’s annual king of the Mountain Division after a 10 a.m. kickoff. No. 15 BYU is simply rolling, looking to go 4-0 against its first non-P5 opponent this year.

Predictions check

The last week of August, bold predictions rolled out in this space. Let’s check out the good, bad and ugly after three weeks.

The good: Focusing on a prediction by San Jose Mercury News Pac-12 columnist Jon Wilner that BYU would go 0-5 against the Pac-12, I took the opposite route and said it would be at least 3-0. BYU is 3-0 with games against Washington State and USC left on the calendar.

The bad: I had USU starting 1-1, beating Washington State on the road in the opener, but then losing on the road to Air Force in MWC play. The Aggies just beat the pesky Falcons. I predicted if Blake Anderson won seven games in his first year in Logan, his bonus should be half his salary. If USU beats Boise State, the Aggies are more than halfway there.

The ugly: I predicted Charlie Brewer would lead Utah to 10 wins, the South Division title and be the MVP of the Rose Bowl as Utah would end up ranked in the top 12. Someone must have spiked my Coke Zero with magic mushroom juice on that one.

Quotes of the week

BYU offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick, his Cougars the only team in the country with three P5 wins: “We didn’t play anybody last year that was even close to being as good on defense as two of the teams we’ve played this year (Utah and ASU).”

South Florida coach Jeff Scott on BYU: “It’s probably the most difficult scheme to prepare for because they do so many things ... they are like grown men ... they’ve also got linebackers beating running backs to the edges and you just go, ‘Wow!’”

Utah coach Kyle Whittingham on Rising: “He’s worked hard in practice, as hard as anybody else. He’s prepared himself the right way. I had no doubt in my mind that he was ready to play because that’s the type of kid that he is. I thought, given the circumstances, he deserved that opportunity.”

Utah State coach Blake Anderson: “Really proud of the guys, but not surprised, to be honest with you. Not surprised at all.”