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The WCC season just started and the schedule demands BYU take on the two top teams right out of the chute. After beating Saint Mary’s last Saturday, the Cougars now travel to Gonzaga and take on Mark Few’s team on Thursday. The Zags are ranked No. 2 behind Baylor.
Here is Jeff Call’s look forward to the Gonzaga game after the Saint Mary’s victory and what the team faces this week on the road.
Cougar Insiders predictions
Here is the question of the week: With the addition of Christopher Brooks and Houston Heimuli, what impact has the transfer portal had for BYU and are they finished looking to plug in other spots?
Jay Drew: Walking out of Independence Bowl Stadium in Shreveport, Louisiana, after the Cougars lost 31-28 to UAB, I thought to myself that the Cougars would need to hit the transfer portal fairly hard if they hoped to duplicate, or improve upon, the season’s final 10-3 record. That was especially true, I thought if RB Tyler Allgeier turned pro.
As all of Cougar Nation knows, Allgeier did just that. Getting Christopher Brooks out of Cal will help BYU fill the void left by Allgeier. Getting Houston Heimuli out of Stanford will help, but probably to a lesser degree because BYU already has Masen Wake at that position.
I think BYU would have been in the market for a transfer portal receiver if Gunner Romney had not announced he is returning. I think the Cougars are set there.
The most pressing need, as I see it, is a playmaker on defense. That’s especially true if Payton Wilgar and Keenan Pili don’t return 100% healthy after surgeries last fall. BYU could also use some defensive line help out of the portal. I was talking to a BYU assistant coach the other day, and he said that D-line is probably the most difficult position to recruit to for most schools, so competition for portal defensive linemen will be fierce.
I expect BYU to get 2-3 more transfers — and lose a few — before fall camp. It should be interesting — especially after spring practices end in early April.
Dick Harmon: In signing and enrolling Brooks and Heimuli, BYU addressed most of the departing issue with Tyler Allgeier. Both bring size, experience, leadership and they are talented. Brooks is a bulldozer and will blend well with Lopini Katoa, Jackson McChesney, Hinckley Ropati, and Sione Finau.
I think returning players from missions and freshman signees will inject talent into the defensive front seven, but the Cougars are in dire need of depth and could use a safety and outside linebacker who can be deployed as a rusher. It is critical that Keenan Pili and Payton Wilgar heal from surgeries and be available in the fall.
The Jaxson Dart QB transfer from USC is an interesting sidelight to portal activity. While I don’t think he is interested in BYU, he does have a longstanding relationship and trust with Aaron Roderick and it could get interesting the longer he stays available. If you want to see the power of the portal, just look at Utah State and what Blake Anderson did in Logan. BYU doesn’t need a trainload of transfers, but key position additions could prove valuable and I don’t think Kalani Sitake is through looking into the 1,500 players in the portal. The Built Bar NIL deal for walkons makes this job easier at BYU.
When BYU took down Saint Mary’s in a defensive-minded, gritty battle in the Marriott Center, it highlighted just how good of a defense Mark Pope’s team is capable of playing. The Gaels had one of their worst offensive showings in school history in the Cougars win — read Jeff Call’s game story. Also, here is my piece on how the Cougars could use Kolby Lee who is now selling cars in nearby Lindon.
If you want to see a sporting event on BYU’s campus, a new mask and vaccination policy will go into effect on Jan. 20.
From the archives
From the Twitterverse
SMC’s 43 points is the lowest since 2014 and the 3rd fewest they’ve scored in the last 20 years.— CougarStats (@CougarStats) January 9, 2022
- BYU, Utah, USU ranked for first time (Deseret News)
- Wilson or Lawrence, who had better rookie season (Deseret News)
- Taysom Hill suffers another Lisfranc injury (Deseret News)
- BYU offers five California recruits (Cougs Daily)
- Which Collegians in Utah looking to NFL? (Deseret News)
Comments from Deseret News readers
This may be the best defensive team BYU has ever put on the court. They are top 20 or 30 in just about every defensive category and No. 2 in the nation in total rebounds. Statistics where they are near the last (most) — turnovers and fouls committed. Surprisingly they are middle of the pack in FG% and 3-pt%. I thought they would be worse.
Current KenPom Rankings
#24 BYU (14-3) 1st in WCC
#63 USU (10-5) 4th tie in MWC
#110 Utah (8-8) 12th in Pac-12 (first home loss to Wash St since 1946)
4 straight Utah loss, could easily climb to 10 straight losses
Jan. 12-15 | TBA | Indoor track | BYU Invitational | @Provo
Jan. 13 | 7 p.m.| Women’s basketball | vs. Saint Mary’s | @Provo
Jan. 13 | 9 p.m. | Men’s basketball | vs. Gonzaga | @Spokane
Jan. 15 | 3 p.m. | Women’s basketball | vs. Loyola Marymount | @Los Angeles