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BYU opened spring football with a bloated roster of anxious, hungry players bent on earning positions and improving on last year’s 10-win season.

The Cougars offense is loaded and experienced and the defense is rebuilding from the front to back, led by a linebacker and secondary corps that is deep.

Here are some of our pre-spring and first-day stories:

Cougar Insider’s predictions

This week’s question: How will Jaren Hall come out of spring practice with his experience and assumed health — and how good can he be this coming season?

Jay Drew: Although Jaren Hall has repeatedly said he’s back to 100% and feeling great after missing the bowl game with a foot/ankle injury, I don’t expect the fifth-year junior to do much in spring camp. He said reps were evenly divided Monday after the Cougars held their first practice, but I expect as camp wears on that Hall will see less and less action. As offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick said a few weeks ago, Hall is a known commodity. Coaches really need to get a look at the other guys — Jacob Conover and Cade Fennegan, mostly — and figure out who is best suited to be Hall’s backup.

By all accounts, the sky is the limit for Hall this season. He’s got all the tools — arm strength, decision-making ability, running ability and more. If BYU’s offensive line can stay healthy, I expect Hall to have a phenomenal year. Certainly, he’s got the weapons to succeed: receivers Puka Nacua and Gunner Romney, tight end Dallin Holker and outstanding pass-catching running back Lopini Katoa.

Dick Harmon: It would be a big letdown if Jaren Hall doesn’t use the opportunity this spring to launch a breakout BYU offense this fall. He’s got an experienced O-line and receiving corps, his backs are experienced, his system has been in place for four years and he’s had a front seat. Hall was not healthy the past two seasons. He played injured last September and did not play in the bowl game against UAB. He didn’t get to work with Puka Nacua hardly at all last summer and fall before he appeared in the Utah game. 

The big expectation is Hall will confidently use his offensive line to make big plays, trusting their blocking and knowledge. He has the receivers to take Aaron Roderick’s system and make it lethal with big chunk plays that really stress a defense. Those same linemen have the skills to move defensive lines and make the run game a threat sans Tyler Allgeier.

Cougar tales

BYU’s No. 17-ranked women will be the center focus for Cougars fans at the WCC Tournament in Las Vegas. Jeff Judkins’ team is the No. 1 seed and regular-season champion and will first play in the semifinals at noon on Monday, March 7. The men must play the winner of Pacific and LMU on Friday for a chance at the quarterfinals Saturday, against San Francisco.

Here are the storylines leading up to the WCC tournament from our coverage:

  • How Pope, team handling unfamiliar role as 5th seed (Jeff Call)
  • Women expecting redemption, momentum (Jeff Call)
  • Can women add tourney title to regular-season trophy? (Jeff Call)
  • Traore, Barcello key in win over Pepperdine (Jeff Call)

From the archives

Related
A man for all seasons: How Jimmer Fredette found balance and fulfillment
Has Mark Pope found momentum in Fousseyni Traore just in the nick of time?

From the Twitterverse

Extra points

  • BYU will have to lose some 2023 opponents (Jay Drew)
  • Sitake releases roster, size, weights (KSL Sports)
  • BYU just signed fastest class ever (BYU Insider)

Fanalyst

Comments from Deseret News readers

“Coach Sitake has it totally right to emphasize the weight room, both as a performance enhancer and an injury preventer. The squat is the biggest difference-maker, and I would love to see actual two-month numbers as evidence of the improvement.

“Also a very smart move having your corners and safeties cross-train. That can pay real dividends late in the season.”

— Atkins

“For any of you that were fortunate to be at the Marriott Center last week and watch the game against Gonzaga we witnessed a different BYU women’s team. They held Gonzaga to 39 points and they were relentless! They dominated the game just like they did when they played the 2nd half at Gonzaga earlier this year. Paisley Harding came out of the locker room in that game with new stitches and a greater determination to win and she took over the game. Last year when we lost to Arizona in our 2nd game at the NCAA Tournament Shaylee Gonzales was furious with the loss. She and the team knew they could do better and now that same team is rolling along. I don’t expect any turn-downs from this group of players. It will produce some very fun moments for them and for all of the BYU fans in the coming weeks. This is your year Lady Cougars and we are proud of you!”

— Boyd in Provo

Up next

March 3 | TBA | Men’s swimming | Texas Last Chance | @Austin

March 3 | 3 p.m. | Baseball | vs. Milwaukee-Wisconsin | @Provo

March 4 | TBA | Men’s tennis | vs. UC Santa Barbara | @Santa Barbara, California

March 4 | 11 a.m. | Women’s tennis | vs. Utah State | @Logan

March 5 | 7 p.m. | Men’s basketball | WCC Tournament | @Las Vegas

March 7 | 12 p.m. | Women’s basketball | WCC Tournament | @Las Vegas