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When others may have bolted, Keanu Hill stayed the course (plus predictions)

Both BYU, Utah should take care of business at home against Aggies and Beavers this week

SHARE When others may have bolted, Keanu Hill stayed the course (plus predictions)
BYU receiver Keanu Hill signals a first down after making a catch as BYU and Wyoming play at LaVell Edwards Stadium.

BYU receiver Keanu Hill signals a first down after making a catch as BYU and Wyoming play at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

What’s cool about Keanu Hill these days?

He’s good. He’s consistent. He’s got a great attitude. He has staying power. He is loyal. He’s out to prove himself and is riding high in BYU’s receivers room.

Through four games, the sophomore leads the Cougars with 283 receiving yards and three touchdowns on 14 catches. He also leads BYU in yards per catch (20.2), yards per game (70.8) and has the longest reception of the season at 68 yards. 

Back in 2019, Hill got sparse playing time in three games. He was playing on a team with stars Dax Milne and Neil Pau’u. Then BYU brought in Washington transfer Puka Nacua in 2021 and signed Kody Epps. He watched as Chase Roberts returned from a Latter-day Saint mission, redshirted because of injury and then burst on the scene against Baylor in Provo.

Looking at the roster, all those faces, seeing that injury-laden Brayden Cosper was making a another comeback during August fall camp, Hill could have been discouraged with the competition. Beat out Nacua, the leading receiver?

Hill could have looked for greener pastures, put his name in the transfer portal, tried to make his way closer to home in Texas where his family resides.

But he didn’t. Now he’s the leading receiver.

Apparently Hill is patient and confident in his abilities and believes when the time comes and he is needed, he will step in and deliver — for his teammates.

Somehow it must have sunk in somewhere in his brain that this is a team game and there is value in doing your job, executing what coaches call the 1-11 for the betterment of the 100 on the squad. He knows that collectively there is joy in team success.

That is real cool these days, a time of NIL, the transfer portal and the importance of “what’s in it for me” campaigns being waged across the college football landscape.

For his efforts last week in a win over Wyoming, Hill was named honorable mention national player of the week by the Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Committee.

And that is cool for BYU’s current leading receiver.

BYU vs. Utah State

The Aggies are experiencing growing pains right now at 1-3 when many of us thought Blake Anderson would have this team 3-1. There are myriad reasons why. Injuries have been a part of it, but so is inexperience and the plug-ins of new faces after a MWC title year.

BYU should be able to both run and pass on the Aggies in this game. On the other side, USU’s receiving corps is not close to what we witnessed in last year’s lightning strike offense. Still, this is BYU-USU and the Aggies have to be salty after it was announced that this is the last game in this ancient rivalry for the near future.

Utah vs. Oregon State

If you break this one down statistically, the Utes have a solid edge in every category that is important: offense, defense, red-zone scoring, passing, rushing, etc. Oregon State could win this game if it wins the turnover battle and if Cam Rising and Tavion Thomas make mistakes. 

OSU’s secondary is capable and things are made more interesting now that Utah’s offense will operate without star tight end/slot receiver Brant Kuithe. But coming off a tough, close loss to USC last week and then taking on the Pac-12 favorite in Salt Lake City is asking too much for the Beavers come Saturday.

Officiating woes

If you’ve seen some head-scratching officiating calls from the Pac-12, ACC, the BYU-Wyoming game and even the Utah-ASU game, you are not alone. There is a problem getting qualified officials after COVID-19 saw many retire, quit and never come back. In Oregon, the working officials pool for high school, junior college and FBS is down 30%.

Oregon radio host/blogger John Canzano addressed this issue and you can read his report and solutions here after he researched the challenge with those in the profession.

Writes Conzano: “Ask around, and you’ll find that fans in just about every corner of college football believe their conference officials stink. There’s a ton of confirmation bias out there. But the Pac-12’s officials aren’t just making an occasional egregious error, they’re also battling a broken brand and have inadequate infrastructure.”


This week’s predictions

Oregon 44, Stanford 10

USC 41, Arizona State 10

San Diego State 28, Boise State 17

Washington 24, UCLA 21

Kentucky 37, Mississippi 28

Kansas State 27, Texas Tech 24

Air Force 31, Navy 27

Alabama 41, Arkansas 21

Baylor 27, Oklahoma State 24

Florida State 33, Wake Forest 31

Texas A&M 24, Mississippi State 21

Washington State 37, California 28

Texas 31, West Virginia 21

Utah 31, Oregon State 27

BYU 42, Utah State 14

Last week 12-4; overall 41-14 (.745).