Twelve things bound to happen during the coming college football season â¦
1 • Jake Heaps will have a monster year.
The numbers will be huge. Through preseason workouts, BYU's sophomore quarterback has looked completely at-ease and in-command. He's the leader of his team, he knows he's the leader of his team, and his team knows it, too. Dude now has a comfort zone as wide as Jack Nicholson's. He knows he's good because he is good. All that's left is to keep his head screwed on, stay healthy, and play out what the Fates have scripted.
2 • The Utes will be good, but sit constantly on pins and needles, on nails and spikes.
Although they are a strong team, with front-line talent across their starting units, Utah will be faced with the uncomfortable prospect of teetering every week with the well-being of Jordan Wynn. Nothing particularly unusual about that because almost every team's fortunes rest on the shoulders of its starting quarterback except that, in this case, the diminutive Wynn has already shown a tendency to get hurt. Add in that fast Pac-12 defenses will be attempting to confuse him and rough him up, and Utah's offensive line is a bit shallow, and the backup situation is dire, and the sum of the parts is â¦ living on a weekly prayer.
3 • Pressure on the Ute offensive front will be thick as a brick.
Beyond protecting Wynn, the patched-up line will have to open ample holes for a new running back, whoever that primary back will be, and provide a foundation for an offense depending on a run game as a basic part of its mix.
4 • If Texas A&M bolts for the SEC, the Big 12 will not blow apart.
Many have suggested the league would become feed for other conferences wanting to cherry-pick the remains. But as long as Texas, which does not seek to go independent, and Oklahoma want to stay hitched together, the Big 12 will be OK. The league has billion-dollar TV contracts in place, and, if A&M leaves, only nine pockets to fill. Schools like Kansas and Oklahoma State are more than happy to stand with the Longhorns and Sooners, and benefit by collecting what's coming their way.
5 • BYU will be invited to become the Big 12's 10th member.
The Cougars will accept that invitation, making for some quick-stepping in the months ahead around and completely off the path of independence they previously had graded for themselves.
6 • Utah's front seven on defense will be formidable.
Coordinator Kalani Sitake has said that group is one of the deepest he's ever had, which will be significant in the Utes' efforts to stop the run, always their No. 1 priority. If they get any kind of consistent contribution at the corner spots, the Utes will do what they love to do bring an extra man into the box and make it difficult for any running attack to roll for big games.
7 • BYU's linebackers will be rock-steady.
There's an if and a but here. If injuries plague Jordan Pendleton and Kyle Van Noy, the Cougars' premier outside athletes, that would cut the legs out from under a defense that can't afford any kind of undercutting. But if they stay healthy, adding in Uona Kaveinga on the inside and Jameson Frazier outside, that group will be BYU's defensive core.
8 • The best running back in Utah will be Utah State's Robert Turbin.
There is an unknown, though. He's coming off a bad wheel and that knee is the surgically repaired support upon which so much of the Aggie offense rests. If it holds up, look out Daddy's coming to dinner and USU finishes at least at .500.
9 • Two freshmen receivers will play key roles for Utah and BYU: Dres Anderson and Ross Apo.
According to U. receivers coach Aaron Roderick, Anderson, the son of former NFL receiver Flipper Anderson, is the fastest wideout the coach has seen in his time at Utah. Apo also is fast and physical, 6-foot-3, 206 pounds. Neither is coming in all fresh-faced off the high school fields. Both are redshirts, and ready to go.
10 • Brandon Doman will go big.
BYU's new offensive coordinator will not crawl into a safe sort of stall-and-set-up mode for a field goal on the final drive of a rivalry game when his quarterback is throwing darts and the offense is clicking and the Cougars are down, say, by a point. "No," he says, "I'll be aggressive." Unlike Robert Anae in last season's game at Rice-Eccles.
11 • Norm Chow will not simply play out a legendary coaching string.
The Ute OC is a proud man who, granted, has already made his name and filled his retirement fund with plenty of cake. But that pride should not be underestimated. The last thing Chow wants to submit himself to is a weekly beating in the Pac-12 by opponents he knows well. Even more important, he wants to deprive his former employers, USC and UCLA, the pleasure of kicking his tail in matchups at the Coliseum in September and at Rice-Eccles in November.
12 • One more time: Heaps will be a bad baby-faced killer.
As previously stated, the QB will throw for a bajillion yards. But he also will show an insatiable mean streak, pouring it on whenever possible. He calls Doman's offense "unbelievably advanced," and says he wants to blow the needle off something he refers to as the "aggravation meter" of opposing defenses. "We want to keep defenses aggravated," he says. "We're going to keep mixing things up on them. We're just going to keep getting better and better." Meaner and meaner.
Gordon Monson hosts "The Gordon Monson Show" weekdays from 2-6 p.m. on 97.5 FM/1280 AM The Zone. Twitter: @GordonMonson.