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100 Days To BYU Football: What I Can’t Wait To See This Season

BYU head coach Kalani Sitake on the sideline during the Cougars win over Louisiana Tech on October 2nd, 2020. (BYU Photo/Jaren Wilkey)

PROVO, Utah – While you begin your summer vacations, don’t forget BYU football is just around the corner.

In 100 days, the Cougars will open the highly-anticipated 2021 season against the Arizona Wildcats in Las Vegas.

After an 11-1 season last year amidst what we all hope is a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic, BYU sets its sights on building on that success in year six under Kalani Sitake.

With 100 days till kickoff, here are some of the things I can’t wait to see this season.

Fans back in the stands

When BYU announced last week that home football games in 2021 would have full capacity, another sign of normalcy was on the horizon.

Watching games last year in person was a historical experience that I’ll never forget. But I missed seeing The ROC lining up around all of LaVell Edwards Stadium for a big game. The Power of the Wasatch spelling out C-O-U-G-A-R-S moments before kickoff.

The pageantry, the sights, the sounds, the smells of college football were gone without fans in the stands. Having fans back in the stands is enormous.

Historic QB Battle

BYU has its fair share of great quarterback battles over the years. The 2021 battle might be the most competitive since the days of Jim McMahon and Marc Wilson duking it out in the late 70s for the No. 1 spot.

Veterans Jaren Hall and Baylor Romney have shown flashes of their talents in limited game action, while blue-chip recruit Jacob Conover is ready to hang with the veterans.

Power 5 teams on the schedule

After COVID-19 destroyed BYU’s original 2020 schedule, the Cougars cobbled together the best schedule they could. BYU was able to play 12 games, but none of those contests were against Power 5 competition. The first time that had happened on a BYU schedule since 1975.

This year no one can knock BYU for their Independent schedule. BYU takes on seven Power 5 teams with three visiting Provo.

Independent scheduling has gone better than anyone could have imagined, but now folks are starting to see the balance and depth of what schedules can look like as an FBS Independent.

New Swag

BYU football is introducing two new helmets this year. An all-royal and an all-navy lid. Player experience and equipment manager Billy Nixon has done an excellent job linking all of BYU’s different eras together in their new uniforms.

Some might think it’s overkill to have a uniform reveal each week. I find it entertaining and look forward to the different threads BYU plans to wear each Saturday this fall.

Unexpected Star Players

Every year, one or two guys come out of nowhere to be key pieces to a given BYU football team. Last year, many would argue that it was Zach Wilson. But did anyone expect Tyler Allgeier to become one of the nation’s top running backs?

In 2018, who was calling Brady Christensen as the next star at left tackle? What about in 2007 when Harvey Unga beat out Fui Vakapuna to be the No. 1 running back?

Unexpected stars emerge every year. Who could they be this year?

My guesses at who those guys could be this year are Enoka Migao, a true freshman defensive end from California, and second-year running back Miles Davis.

I’ll toss out one more guy who I think could take off this year. Connor Pay. Pay was excellent in relief of an injured Joe Tukuafu in the Boca Raton Bowl with no offensive line coach on the sidelines.

Can BYU “Raise The Bar?”

The 2021 off-season has a lot of parallels to the 2007 season, in my opinion. How do you follow up a breakthrough season with so many new faces in key roles?

In 2007, BYU found answers in Max Hall, Harvey Unga, Dennis Pitta, and Austin Collie. That team soared to another 11-win campaign and delivered what might be the program’s last conference championship ever.

The success of that season lived up to the theme for that team, “Raise The Bar.”

Fast forward to now, the 2020 team brought big-time success back to BYU football, but was it a one-year wonder because of the pandemic and a generational quarterback?

Time will tell. But if this BYU team can win nine games against a schedule that features seven Power 5 foes, that would raise the bar and profile for Kalani Sitake’s program going forward.

We will start to get answers to these questions in a mere 100 days. For now, go jump in the pool, enjoy the summer because the season will be here before you know it.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12-3 pm) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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