How improved will BYU’s offense be in Week 2 against Southern Utah on Saturday in LaVell Edwards Stadium?

We’ll find out fast.

Here’s one key to watch: Look at the production of starting running back Aidan Robbins.

He’s RB1.

BYU brought him in to be the foundation of a run attack geared for Big 12 play. A week ago, that idea kind of fizzled in the home opener against Sam Houston.

Does Robbins surpass 100 yards rushing? Does he score TDs? Does he break off some Tyler Allgeier-like runs? Does he average more than four or five yards a carry?

Those are conversational lines to start with in BYU’s second week of play against Southern Utah.

While Robbins struggled to get going in a win over Sam Houston in the opener, it wasn’t all his fault. The pieces up front were out of sync and so was downfield blocking by some new receivers.

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BYU’s offensive line has to use this game to grow up and gel quickly. Next week is a trip to Arkansas.

The dilemma a week ago was just getting on the same page. A year ago, left tackle Kingsley Suamataia played right tackle; a year ago, left guard Weylin Lapuaho was at Utah State; a year ago, center Paul Maile was at Utah, that same year, right guard Connor Pay was BYU’s starting center and right tackle Caleb Etienne was at Oklahoma State.

That sounds like a lot of learning, shuffling, fitting and communication to be reestablished this fall.

But if offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick and offensive line coach Darrell Funk are looking for inspiration, turn to Boulder and Deion Sanders. He had about 80 bodies to move around in the offseason and triumphed with an upset win over a ranked opponent and had only six penalties in the opener against College Football Playoff runner-up TCU.

It can be done.

But if you want a real key, watch to see if Robbins runs effectively and efficiently. Yes, even against underdog SUU.

“We got humbled ourselves,” Roderick told reporters this week in explaining lessons learned in a 14-0 win over Sam Houston when his penalty-plagued offense sputtered. “This game will humble you if you’re not ready to play. You have to respect the game and respect every opponent. We won the game and we’re happy about that. We protected the ball and put the ball in the red zone when we got there, but we don’t want to play like that all year. That’s not the way we’ve played the last three years.”

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Roderick said he expects a lot of points, a lot of first downs and for the ball to move down the field with sustained drives and explosive plays.

The veteran coordinator said Robbins didn’t play badly last week, that the offense made mistakes that put them on long distance down situations that didn’t make it easy to run the ball. 

 “We were often in second and long and third and long, which isn’t conducive to running the ball. I’m not down on Aidan at all.”

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Robbins, a transfer from UNLV, gained 23 yards on seven carries in the opener for a 3.3-yard average.

And, yes, it was tough plowing for Robbins, who played primarily just the first half. His replacement, freshman LJ Martin, took advantage of better blocking and play choices in the second half and gained 91 yards on 16 carries, an average of 5.7 yards per tote.

In Waco, expect Utah to beat a reeling Baylor team that lost to Texas State and put head coach Dave Aranda on the hot seat

Baylor will be without starting quarterback Blake Shapen, who sufferred an MCL injury in his knee in the loss to Texas State. Utah, ranked 14th last week, showed a menacing defense in a win over Florida in its opener, and certainly will be a challenge for Shapen’s replacement.

This week’s picks

  • Utah 27, Baylor 10.
  • Kansas State 38, Troy 14.
  • Iowa State 31, Iowa 28.
  • Oklahoma 48, SMU 7.
  • Pitt 27, Cincinnati 24.
  • Alabama 34, Texas 27.
  • Oregon 42, Texas Tech 14.
  • UCF 48, Boise State 21.
  • Houston 38, Rice 10.
  • Oklahoma 47, ASU 14.
  • Colorado 28, Nebraska 21.
  • UCLA 31, San Diego State 21.
  • USC 31, Stanford 17.
  • Utah State 34, Idaho State 9.
  • BYU 34, Southern Utah 7.
  • Last week: 14-2 (.875).
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