Eye on the Y: Chasing 10 wins, Aaron Roderick’s big year and some quarterback history in the making

BYU Cougars open fall football camp this week in Provo, where they will prepare for their final season of independence.

(Jaren Wilkey | BYU) D'Angelo Mandell participates in BYU football spring practice in Provo, Monday, Feb. 28, 2022.

Good morning,

Welcome to the start of college football season. The Cougars will report to fall camp this Wednesday and practices will start in earnest on Thursday. From there we will be off and running.

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Every week, we will analyze trends, break down performances and offer tidbits we could not jam into our coverage throughout the week. This will also be a home base to gather our past BYU stories and highlight what is coming up.

Already this week, we’ve broken down the top storylines heading into fall camp. But, if we are being honest, there aren’t a whole lot of position battles that are intriguing in the lead-up to Sept. 3 in South Florida.

BYU returns almost 85% of its production from 2021 — the most in the country. And over 80% of the starters last year will be the opening-day starters this year. Aside from some injury reports, we know the cast of characters that will be mainstays come Week 1.

So instead of getting into more minutiae this morning, how about we take stock of the big picture while we still can? Here are some thoughts on what BYU’s final season of independence will and won’t be.

The chase for 10 wins

Here is the truth about this season: It is going to be hard to determine what the outcome actually means.

Regardless of how much BYU wins or loses, this year will always be remembered as the build-up to the Big 12. Unless ...

It would take a near-perfect season for BYU to crack a New Year’s Six bowl game. Because of the way the College Football Playoff games shake out, there is only one at-large spot in the New Year’s Six for an independent team. Maybe if BYU knocks off Notre Dame, and runs the table, that spot can go to the Cougars. But even 11 wins might not cut it, and BYU could be heading for another mid-December bowl game.

That said, there is one thing that BYU can definitively chase this year. That is its third-straight 10-win campaign.

It has only been done three times in BYU history. The last time it was done was from 2006-09 in Bronco Mendenhall’s first four seasons on the job. And the time before that was in 1985 when Robbie Bosco was the quarterback.

If BYU can get to 10 wins it will put a stamp on the Kalani Sitake era, a nice milestone for a man who has had his fair share of ups and downs in his seven seasons at the helm. It will also put a nice bow on the Jaren Hall-Zach Wilson era, but more on that later.

Calling for Aaron?

Aaron Roderick was the new signal caller last year for BYU’s offense. The early returns: above average.

BYU’s offense averaged 452 yards per game, nearly 30 points per game and averaged fewer than a turnover. The red zone efficiency was among the best in the country. What’s more, Roderick turned first-year quarterback Jaren Hall into a legitimate NFL draft prospect.

Now here is what we know about offensive coordinators who can turn quarterbacks into draft prospects: they often get head coaching jobs.

If BYU can put together a similar offensive season this year, it is not out of the question for Roderick’s name to be in the coaching carousel. He worked with Zach Wilson and turned him into the No. 2 overall pick. If Hall is in the mix at the end of this year, Roderick will have the track record typical for a head coaching candidate.

There are other considerations, too. BYU is heading into the Big 12. Does he want to stick around for that, maybe get a bigger head coaching gig after 2023 if the offense stays hot? Or does he strike now?

Again, the offense has to come together this year or this is a moot point. But with nearly everyone coming back, it would be hard to imagine the offense being the problem regardless of how the season goes.

Hall-Wilson, Young-McMahon?

One ESPN mock draft had Jaren Hall as a Top 10 pick in this year’s NFL draft. Maybe that was too high, but the possibility of Hall as a first-rounder is on the table.

That would be significant for BYU, having Hall and Wilson go back-to-back as first-round draft picks. The last time that happened? Steve Young and Jim McMahon.

We will have something on Hall’s thoughts about leaving BYU after this season later this week.

Alright, that’s it for now. We will check back after the first couple of fall practices.