Updated: Mar 8, 2019
After almost three months of reliving Zach Wilson’s 18 for 18 masterpiece in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl BYU Football is back! The pain of November 24th has faded and all eyes are looking ahead to the looming matchup with the University of Utah in week one of 2019. As spring football kicks off BYU looks to improve and grow into the team Kalani Sitake and co. envision. Improvement is the goal for every player and coach on the roster, but there are 5 questions that need to be answered.
1. Will the cloud of doubt around the RB group grow or shrink?
I hope to see Lopini Katoa emerge as a leader in the Running Back’s room, and others must step up. Tyler Allgeier, Sione Finau, and Kavika Fonua all have the potential, but are all unproven. BYU needs someone to step up if this offense wants to be truly dynamic. Although signing day has passed, don’t be surprised to see AJ Steward add to the group already on campus. If he can find a difference maker in the transfer portal, cougar fans will feel much more confident heading into 2019.
2. Who is WR1?
Although BYU returns 72% of last years receiving TDs and receiving yards, they lack a clear go-to guy. Zach Wilson needs someone to step up that he can rely on in the biggest moments. I expect Gunner Romney to be the one who separates himself and emerges as Zach Wilson’s primary wide receiver. Romney was a highly touted recruit out of Chandler, Arizona with offers from Utah, Iowa State, Arizona and Arizona State, but he was hampered all of 2018 with a nagging hamstring injury. If he can remain healthy Gunner will prove why many considered him the crown jewel of last year’s recruiting class.
3. How will BYU fill the role of Corbin Kaufusi?
Corbin Kaufusi was BYUs main pass rusher this past season which leaves a hole as big as he is in the cougar defense. The leading candidates to step up are Langi Tuifua, and Devin Kaufusi. However, I anticipate we will see an improvement from the D-Line as a whole in getting to the quarterback as opposed to one player doing all the heavy lifting. Lorenzo Fautea and Khyris Tonga must emerge as the dominant presences they can be inside, and the entire unit should benefit.
4. Who will win the QB battle?
No the starting job is not open, Zach Wilson is comfortably locked in to his role as the starting quarterback in 2019. Nevertheless, there will be a battle of the green jerseys to determine who his back up will be. The early front runners are Joe Critchlow, Jaren Hall, and Baylor Romney (the older brother of Gunner). BYU will need one of them to step up because BYU fans know as well as anyone how important a backup QB is. I expect Jaren Hall to emerge because of the ability he has with his feet to get outside the pocket and make plays, but don't allow the fact that Baylor Romney is a walk-on to cloud your judgement. Just like his brother, Baylor is a great athlete and will push Jaren throughout spring.
5. Will the streak end?!
The most important game of next season comes week one, and it is nothing short of a must win. Last November it looked like the streak was about to end… then the second half happened. Depth, depth, depth. BYU lacked the depth to beat Utah and it is something that has to change this spring. Backups need to develop and prove that they will be ready to push the starters, and play well when called upon. Zach Wilson has stated that he is already looking at film and preparing and I imagine the coaches are as well. A win in week one will set BYU up for a very successful season. In Zach we trust.