15 May 2014

A pivotal time

For both BYU football and the Utah Jazz, these next few weeks and months are huge for the futures of these programs.

BYU was just classified as a non-Power Conference caliber team by both the ACC and SEC, a decision that fairly clearly shows what many in the world of college football think of the Cougars.

The upcoming schedule is not an overly difficult one, and there are games against Texas, Houston, Virginia, Boise State and Cal that will be barometers for whether or not BYU belongs at the big kid table. And with a returning quarterback on many  Heisman watch lists, a running back who had the most successful freshman and sophomore seasons ever at BYU and a wide receiver corp that is better than the Cougars have seen in years, they have the talent to prove they belong.

The question is the offensive line.  They have been mediocre to bad since 2009, and the coaching staff has had some time to fix it. If there are not major improvements this season, this team will lose games it should not. It's that cut and dried.

Overall, I have to admit I am not that optimistic. I attended the Spring Scrimmage, and Taysom did not look very improved over last season. Overthrew some balls, underthrew some, shorted a few, etc. Accuracy was a big problem, in my opinion. And the offensive line needs to take such a big leap from last season to this, that I just don't see it happening. BYU will likely go 8-4, a middling record considering the schedule.

As for the Jazz, they are sitting on a potential top-5 pick in the best lottery of the last decade, are searching for a new head coach, and have five young players all taken in the top 12 of past drafts (Burke, Hayward, Kanter, Favors, Burks). That is a lot of talent, and adding another very nice piece this summer will put Utah is a fantastic position to succeed in the ensuing years.

And a lot of that is dependent on who the new coach is. If the new guy is like Mike Brown, the Jazz's young guys will wallow in a terrible system with no structure, little development, and few wins. If the new guy is the second coming of Greg Popovich, the young players will flourish, talent will develop into elite talent, and the Jazz could compete for the Western Conference title within three or four years.

Of course, that also hinges on the Jazz picking an alpha-level, franchise player in the draft. The Jazz have a lot of capable second and third bananas, but no one who can carry a team, scoring 25 points a game and getting 10 assists or rebounds to go along with it. Add one of these guys, and Hayward can slide back into his natural spot of being Robin to someone's Batman, as this last season clearly proved he is not capable of being The Guy.

So two jobs, Jazz brass: Find the next Greg Popvich and draft the next LeBron. No big deal.

And BYU? Just win. Stomp Virginia. Embarrass Texas again. Don't let Boise State sneak past you. Win the tough games, up the respect you have nationwide, and hopefully you won't be on the outside looking in when this Power 5 Conference thing is finalized.

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