PROVO — College football season is here.
It's almost a year-round sport, but the 2021 season is quickly approaching — and in many ways, the earliest passage of time is marked by the publication of the annual college football preview magazines like Athlon Sports, Lindy's, and Phil Steele.
It's football season, with conference previews and media days around the corner; as an FBS independent, BYU will host its own media day Thursday on campus and broadcast on BYUtv.
Until then, here's what some of the early college football preview magazines are saying about the Cougars.
Record in 2020: 11-1
Ranking: No. 11 (AP)
Head coach: Kalani Sitake (38-26, 5 years)
What they're saying
"After the 2020 dream season — the only loss was to Coastal Carolina in a game arranged two days before it was played 2,000 miles away from Provo — the Cougars are fighting against the notion that they have arrived. Seven Power 5 teams on the schedule, in addition to Boise State and heated in-state rival Utah State, should put an end to any complacency," — Athlon Sports.
"BYU's offense won't be as explosive, but the pieces are there to put plenty of points on the board. Entering Sitake's sixth season, the depth continues to improve, evidenced by several head-turning performances by Cougar players at Pro Day in March. BYU is strong at receiver and linebacker," — Lindy's Sports Annuals.
"A winning record and a bowl berth would be considered a success," — Lindy's Sports Annuals.
Biggest question mark: the quarterback
After Zach Wilson's breakout season took him to the No. 2 pick in the NFL draft to the New York Jets, three candidates are vying to fill his shoes. Reliable backup Baylor Romney must contend with a fully healthy Jaren Hall, who is finally back after struggling with injuries a year ago, and recently returned missionary Jacob Conover, the former four-star recruit from Chandler, Arizona, who returned from a two-year mission to Paraguay. Fellow freshman Sol-Jay Maiava-Peters was also competing for the starting job during spring camp, but Sitake said during his summer golf tournament with friend and University of Utah head football coach Kyle Whittingham that the competition has been whittled down to three.
Of course, whoever wins the starting job will have two key weapons in Puka Nacua and his brother Samson, in addition to top returning wideout Baylor Romney. Still ....
"At BYU, it's almost always about the quarterback, evidenced by Wilson's meteoric rise up draft boards last year, and it will really be about the QB this season as four candidates line up to replace the junior who will be plying his trade in the NFL this fall," — Athlon Sports.
Tyler Allgeier, RB: The converted linebacker from Fontana, California, ran for 1,130 yards and 13 touchdowns in a breakout season.
Lopini Katoa, RB: The change-of-pace back from American Fork ran for 444 yards with five touchdowns and caught 23 passes for 293 yards and three scores as a junior in 2020.
Isaac Rex, TE: Named a freshman All-America by The Athletic, the son of former BYU great Byron Rex caught 37 passes for 429 yards and 12 touchdowns — surpassing his father's career scoring mark — in a spectacular freshman season.
Puka Nacua, WR, Washington: Big-play receiver who prepped at Orem High caught 16 passes for 319 yards and three touchdowns for the Huskies.
Samson Nacua, WR, Utah: Puka's brother and younger brother of former BYU star safety Kai Nacua, the former Timpview High standout played in 45 games for Utah with eight starts, and led the Utes with five receiving touchdowns in 2018 and four in 2019.
Anonymous coaches say the darndest things to Athlon Sports when granted anonymity.
"There's going to be regression for sure because they don't have Wilson, but if they lose four games, they're still going in the right direction because you can see better development across the board."
"They had a phenomenal year last year; the downside is that I don't think anyone wants to schedule them because they can see the improvement."