The Daily Herald’s BYU sports experts Jared Lloyd and Darnell Dickson weigh in on five of the biggest questions facing the Cougars this week:
1. New NCAA announcement on athlete pay
1. The NCAA has announced it will let athletes make money on their likeness, name and image. How will this affect a program like BYU?
LLOYD: The reality of this latest announcement is that no one really knows. There are still so many details to be ironed out that I could see it being positive, negative or basically a non-factor. I can see Cougar boosters showing their support by providing opportunities for BYU athletes. I could see the university choosing what it sees as the moral high ground and limiting the way Cougar athletes are allowed to profit. The most likely outcome, in my opinion, is that this will get mired in legislation and legal wrangling for years and won’t be implemented any time in the near future. If the move turns out to be as bad as some think it will and ruins amateur college athletics, then I will definitely remember fondly when college players played sports for the love of the game and not for the money.
DICKSON: I agree with Jared on this one. While I think it’s a good idea for college athletes to be able to make money from their likeness, name and image, it’s a very complicated issue. I fear this will create an even bigger gap between the Power 5 schools, Group of 5 schools and independents in terms of recruiting. All the top recruits pretty much go to Power 5 schools anyway, but when a big-time school can offer a $100,000 bonus that is perfectly legal, why would any 4- or 5-star recruit go to a smaller school?
It can also create a huge financial gap between, say, a quarterback at a P5 school and a swimmer, or tennis player, or women’s soccer player. Sure, those athletes are getting scholarships but not the lucrative deals available to football or basketball players.
2. Key to winning at USU
2. What will be the key factor in a Cougar football victory against Utah State in Logan this weekend?
DICKSON: It’s pretty hard to ignore the brutal fourth quarters we’ve seen lately. BYU has been outscored 42-0 in the fourth in the past three games. But I think a fast start for the Cougars will be really beneficial against a Utah State team still reeling from a beatdown at Air Force. If BYU gets out to a two-score lead early, it will give the Cougars confidence and bring doubt to the Utah State sideline. Aggressive play calling on both sides of the ball could accomplish a fast start and make the Aggies play catch-up.
LLOYD: I think it is going to come down to finishing once again for BYU. This is a Cougar squad that has found itself in a lot of close games and I don’t think the Aggies are so good or so bad that this game will be one-sided in the fourth quarter. I see both teams having the pressure ramp up at the end, which is something BYU is certainly familiar with. Against Tennessee, USC and Boise State the Cougars had success in those moments while they failed at Toledo and USF. Look, it doesn’t matter when you score points in football. All that matters is that after 60 minutes of gametime (plus overtime, when necessary) you have more of them than the opponent. BYU has to come up with a way to finish strong because if it does, it wins.
3. Reaching the 30-point mark
3. Will the BYU football team’s offense finally score 30 points or more on Saturday?
LLOYD: Utah State has allowed an opponent to score 30-plus points three times in 2019 — all of which were losses. In the four Aggie wins, the other team never scored more than 24 points. That seems to be a reasonable benchmark for the Cougars to be shooting for but I don’t think the 30-point mark is likely. I think BYU is going to look to possess the ball and keep Utah State’s offense off the field like Air Force did last week (the Falcons had the ball for more than 3/4ths of the game). I’m still not confident enough in the Cougars being able to finish long drives with touchdowns to believe BYU will be able to have that kind of breakout scoring performance.
DICKSON: It’s bound to happen eventually, right? It should have happened last week, when the Cougars scored 21 points in the third quarter alone against Boise State and had a season-high (during regulation, anyway) of 28 going into the fourth. It’s tough to predict because if BYU starts Jaren Hall, which seems likely, will coaches have him run as much as he did against South Florida or will they attempt to play it safe? I would guess the Cougars fall short of 30 in this one but not by much.
4. BYU hoops exhibition starters
4. The BYU men’s basketball team opens the 2019-20 season with an exhibition game against UT Tyler on Friday. Who you got in the starting lineup?
DICKSON: I will say T.J. Haws, Jake Toolson, Colby Lee, Dalton Nixon and Connor Harding will start against UT Tyler, but minutes will be interesting to follow. A Division II team like UT Tyler is going to be guard heavy so there will be plenty of minutes for Alex Barcello as well.
Redshirts can play in exhibition games, and so can senior Yoeli Childs, who will sit out nine regular season games due to an NCAA suspension. How will Mark Pope distribute the minutes during an exhibition game with Childs, Richard Harward and Wyatt Lowell available to play?
LLOYD: Let’s start with a couple of obvious selections. I will be pretty surprised if TJ Haws and Jake Toolson aren’t on the floor to start that game. I’m going to say that BYU head coach Mark Pope sticks sophomore Colby Lee out there with senior Dalton Nixon to fill the front court roles. That leaves one guard spot up for grabs and honestly I could see Pope going a variety of directions with the position. I think Zac Seljaas, Jesse Wade, Connor Harding and recent NCAA-waiver addition Alex Barcello are in the mix but I’m going to give the nod to Wade. I see the exhibition game as a chance for a lot of guys to show what they can do under the lights, so there will be a lot of rotation. I just look forward to seeing who shines.
5. Cougar women's soccer MVP so far
5. Who is the MVP of the 15-0-1 BYU women’s soccer team: Playmaking midfielder Mikayla Colohan, high-scoring forward Elise Flake, stalwart goalkeeper Sabrina Davis or someone else?
LLOYD: As a former soccer player and referee as well as a long-time reporter, I always place tremendous value on midfield performance. The athletes in those positions have so many responsibilities from the front to the back and thus have a tremendous impact on the outcome of the game. I think BYU’s midfield has been solid throughout the season but junior Mikayla Colohan has been the most dynamic and most consistent in the group. She has the most shots (72) and most shots on goal (35) on the team, while she is second in goals (11) and game-winning goals (4). She can be the type of player that can completely change a game and I think she deserves to be recognized for that.
DICKSON: I can’t fault Jared for choosing Colohan. Even a soccer dummy like me can see her affect on the game from her midfield spot. She is very much a catalyst for everything the Cougars do offensively. But let me argue for Elise Flake. She’s a senior and every single opponent’s game plan has to start with figuring out a way to protect the goal against her advances. Flake leads the team with 15 goals on 51 shots, a very good percentage of .294. Once her shot is on goal, that percentage is up to .588, meaning more than half the time Flake takes a shot on goal it’s finding the back of the net.That’s as dangerous as they come.