Jazz 2017-2018 Season Predictions

Jazz stadium renovation? Check. New roster? Check. New unis? Check.

Lots of changes have taken place this year for the Jazz. After Hayward turned down millions to lose to Lebron every year, the Jazz had to pivot and make some roster adjustments.

So the Jazz front office got to work. They traded for Rubio, (before Hayward made his decision to leave), they drafted future star (in my opinion) Donovan Mitchell, signed Thabo Sefolosha, Ekpe Udoh, Jonas Jerebko, and resigned Jinglin’ Joe.

If you’re like me, you’re not necessarily pessimistic about this years team, but you’re a little bummed out because the thought of having Hayward on this roster makes you salivate a little.

There are doubts about the Jazz being able to compete in the western conference this year now that Hayward is gone, but that’s mostly because of how stacked the conference is now.

PG13 and Melo end up in OKC. CP3 gets traded to Houston. Jimmy Buckets lands in Minnesota, alongside Jeff Teague and their rising stars. Denver even made a big move adding veteran all-star Paul Millsap.

All of this was happening and I was scratching my head thinking, “Are the Jazz ever going to do anything big?”

Do something meme

Nope. They didn’t. Dennis Lindsey decided to be smart with the salary cap and stayed conservative.

But here we are. And honestly, I feel good about this Jazz roster. After going 5-0 in this years preseason (I know, preseason isn’t a big deal) I’m stoked about some of the guys on this team.

Donovan Mitchell looks like the steal of the draft.

Alec Burks is looking great, considering he’s spent the majority of his career on the bench because of injuries.

Gobert is playing pissed off, which is a good thing.

So I’m gonna make some bold predictions for the Jazz this year.

Team Predictions:

– Season Record: 45-37

– Playoff Seed: 6th

Hot Takes:

– Rudy Gobert will be a first time all-star, and will win DPOY.

– Donovan Mitchell will average 12 PPG in his debut season.

– Rudy Gobert will lead the team in scoring – 18 PPG.

– Alec Burks will be the leading scorer off the bench.

– Ricky Rubio will lead the league in assists – 12 APG.

Donovan Mitchell

The last thing I wanted to touch on is what I think the starting roster should look like.

As we all know, Dante Exum separated his shoulder and could end up missing the whole season, depending on what the team doctors say.

That being said, it opens up some minutes for other guards in the rotation. Neto could end up seeing the floor more than expected. Maybe Burks or Mitchell can play some point? Who knows.

But after what I saw during preseason, this is what I would go with for my starting 5:

PG – Rubio

SG – Mitchell

SF – Hood

PF – Favors

C – Gobert

Mitchell is insanely athletic, and has a bright future in this league. His leaping ability is off the charts, and he has really good defensive instincts. I don’t see Coach Snyder keeping him on the bench for too long. He’s already outplaying most guys on the roster.

Jinglin’ Joe is a fan favorite, and over the last few years he has become one of my favorite Jazzmen. But I think he should come off the bench. He can still get his 20-25 minutes per game, but it’s important for the offense to get a fast start. Having Mitchell and Hood on the court at the same time gives us the best chance to do that.

First 5 off the bench would then be:

PG – Neto

SG – Burks

SF – Ingles

PF – Johnson

C – Udoh/Jerebko

Overall, I think the Jazz are much deeper than they were a season ago.

Looking forward to another great year of basketball. Go Jazz!

 

– Jesse Thayne

 

 

 

 

Afterthoughts of BYU’s Tough Loss to LSU

BYU vs LSU 2
Michael DeMocker – NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

BYU had a rough game. I suppose you didn’t need me to tell you that after the drubbing they took at the hands of LSU this past weekend.

In case you didn’t read my initial blog article a couple of weeks ago about my prediction of BYU going 10-3 this year, I’m here to confess that I was completely wrong. After a suspect game against Portland St., I was hopeful it was just a case of first-game jitters, and BYU would make adjustments and work on some of the areas where they were deficient.

My hope is lost that the Cougars will even sniff at a 10-3 record after what I saw on Saturday. In fact, I’m not even going to start out writing about what I saw, but rather what I didn’t see.

For starters, I didn’t see an offense. I mean that literally and figuratively. BYU wasn’t on the field for two-thirds of the game. LSU had the ball for 41 minutes and 54 seconds while BYU had it 18 minutes and 6 seconds. When BYU did have the ball, they didn’t do anything worth noting. In fact, they never once crossed into their opponent’s territory.

I didn’t see a running game. Squally Canada, BYU’s starting running back, rushed the ball five times for 8 yards. He was the leading rusher for BYU. The Cougars had -5 yards rushing on the day. BYU finished the day with 97 total yards of offense.

I didn’t see much of an offensive line. Because of the lack in the running game, LSU’s defense pinned their ears back and put a ton of pressure on Tanner Mangum. The offensive line barely put up a fight while blocking for their QB. Mangum was on his heels most of the night.

Speaking of the QB, I didn’t see the sharp passing by Tanner Mangum that I’m used to. He seemed like a shell of the quarterback he was two seasons ago when he looked like the second coming of Ty Detmer. He didn’t show he could scramble very well or make an accurate pass down field. He seemed to have regressed.

Did I mention Ty Detmer? You know, the guy that was supposed to bring in a bona-fide offensive scheme to fix the one Robert Anae had. Yep, I didn’t see it either. BYU didn’t show it had any dynamic plays offensively. I thought the vanilla play-calling against Portland St. was a ruse to keep LSU from scouting the real play-calling. It turns out that BYU just doesn’t have any good plays in their playbook. It was predictable and boring.

In the end, I didn’t see the heart of a champion on the field. I didn’t see leadership from any of the players or coaches. I didn’t see passion or much desire to fight. I blame the coaches for that.

Here’s what I did see:

A defense that did their best against a very stout offensive team. If someone would have told me before the game that LSU would only score 27 points, I would have thought BYU had a chance to win.

Derrius Guice was everything I imagined him to be as a running back. He literally pounded the rock, bowling over defenders at every turn. Rarely could one defender bring him down. It took many players to tackle him, but often only after gaining positive yardage. He’s going to be a handful for most teams in the SEC. Fortunately for BYU, they probably won’t face another running back like Guice this year.

I foresee a long season ahead for the Cougars. The dream of going 10-3 this year is over. I  believe I have a greater chance of winning the lottery at this point than that. Realistically, I see them going 6-7, or 7-6.

I see grumbling from Cougars fans about coaching and people calling for coaching changes.

I see another loss at the hands of the team up north.

I see some hope in the latter part of the season against some lesser talent.

I see BYU going to another mid to lower-tiered bowl game this year.

I see that Utah’s inclusion in the PAC-12 has made them a much better program while BYU has seemingly gotten worse.

Coach Sitake has already called out the offense, or rather, the lack of offense. I believe that is a good thing. I also think BYU needs to look for a new OC, and soon. I love Ty Detmer, but he doesn’t have the experience needed to compete in the FBS as a coordinator. It would be wise to bring in a co-offensive coordinator to help Detmer, similar to what Utah did a couple of years ago.

I see many fans wishing BYU had never left the MWC.

And finally, I see hope for better years ahead. BYU will recover and give fans something to cheer about the second half of the season. Down seasons happen to all teams at some point. I remember USC, Florida St., LSU, and Alabama having bad years too.  They have survived just fine. So will BYU.

–Troy Thayne

 

 

Utah and BYU Rookies Look to Make NFL Dreams a Reality

JW packers

As if college football wasn’t enough entertainment to get us through the depressingly cold winter months, the NFL gives me even more to look forward to at the end of each week.

The biggest reason why I like to watch the NFL is because we get to see how some of our former Utes and Cougars perform at the next level.

Guys like Alex Smith, Eric Weddle, Star Lotulelei, Ziggy Ansah, and Kyle Van Noy, make the NFL even more exciting to watch for me. All of these former college studs are now competing at the highest level of football on the planet, and boy is it fun to see them compete with the best. And fantasy football, that’s cool too.

NFL preseason is finally wrapping up, so I thought it would be cool to see where some of these guys ended up as they look to begin their NFL careers.

Jamaal Williams – Williams has reportedly turned heads since being drafted by the Packers this year. He currently is listed as 2nd on the depth chart heading into the regular season, and I’m hearing he is fighting for 1st squad reps with starting RB Ty Montgomery. Expect him to have a solid role as the backup RB his rookie season.

Taysom Hill – Hill was recently waived by the Green Bay Packers and claimed by the New Orleans Saints off of waivers. Hill will be joining a QB list that only contains Drew Brees and Chase Daniels. Hill had a nice preseason with the Pack playing in 3 games where he threw for 149 yards and 2 TD’s with 0 picks, and also ran for 71 yards and 1 TD. It was rumored that the Pack was going to waive Hill then sign him to the practice squad, but it looks like the Saints beat them to the punch.

San Francisco 49ers v Kansas City Chiefs
Jamie Squire – Getty Images

Joe Williams – Williams played well in the preseason and showed his crazy speed at times. From what I’ve read, the Niners are impressed with him, but he’s still a rookie and needs to improve in some areas. He was recently placed on the IR because of an ankle injury.

Harvey Langi – Recently signed to the Patriots practice squad. Langi has a good chance of being called back up to the Patriots 53-man roster if an injury takes place.

Pita Taumoepenu – The Niners must be seeing something they like in Pita, because they recently released their veteran LB Ahmad Brooks, and signed Pita to the 53-man roster. Look for him to have some decent playing time this year as a backup OLB for the Niners.

Jared Norris – Recently signed to Carolina’s 53-man roster. Looks like he has impressed on special teams, and it’s been enough to earn a roster spot.

MW Pick
Michael DeMocker – NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

Marcus Williams – According to reports, Williams has been showing off his ball-hawking skills and will be a much-needed upgrade for the Saints secondary which finished dead last in passing defense last year. Expect him to have a significant role his rookie year as he is currently listed as the backup free safety on the depth chart.

Tim Patrick – After signing with the Niners at the beginning of training camp, Patrick was recently waived on Friday. I would expect him to land on a practice squad somewhere else.

Nacua
John Kuntz – cleveland.com

Kai Nacua – Nacua originally made the Browns’ 53-man roster, but was waived shortly after. Reports say he will most likely end up on the practice squad for the Browns.

Isaac Asiata – Not surprisingly, Asiata made the 53-man roster for the Dolphins. Because of injuries to the O-line, Asiata was seen as someone who could possibly start at the left guard position, even though he’s a rookie.

Gbolles
Ron Chenoy – USA TODAY Sports

Garett Bolles – Bolles was recently named as the starting left tackle for the Broncos after having a solid training camp and preseason.

Algernon Brown –  Waived by the Seattle Seahawks.

 

– Jesse Thayne

3 Takeaways from Utah’s Win Over UND

UU vs UND 2
Ravell Call – Deseret News

On August 31st, the University of Utah kicked off their football season at Rice-Eccles Stadium with a win over North Dakota. The Utes saw great offensive games from Tyler Huntley, Darren Carrington, Zach Moss and Troy McCormick. The Utes made a lot of mental mistakes that took away some big plays and cost the Utes 135 yards in penalties. These are my 3 big takeaways from the Utes first game.

The Tyler Huntley show is here!

This is the first time (in a LOOONG time) that I have been this excited about a quarterback. Huntley threw for 23/32 and 1 touchdown, good enough for 71%. He also rushed for 70 yards and 2 TDs on the ground. Huntley made a bad throw on the first drive of the game that resulted in an interception. After the mistake, Huntley was patient and threw the ball away when he had pressure instead of forcing throws. The best news about Huntley…we get him for 3 MORE YEARS!

Darren Carrington II lived up to the hype!

Carrington finished the game with 10 receptions for 127 yards and 1 TD. He ran crisp routes and always seemed to be open when Huntley was feeling pressure. Carrington and Moss both mentioned post game that Troy Taylor didn’t open up the playbook and kept things very vanilla. It will be exciting to see this offense unleashed against BYU in the rivalry game next week.

The offensive line has a lot of work ahead..

The offensive line was great in the run block but really struggled in the pass block. This seems to always be an issue for the Utah O-line, we can get big push downfield for our running backs, but we can’t give our QB time to make his progression reads. We struggled with the same things against SUU last year and coached Harding was able to correct it. Let’s hope the O-line can turn things around before we have to face the Stanford and Washington D-lines.

There is a lot to be excited about with this Utah football team! We have exciting players on offense and defense. The defense looked solid outside of a few big pass plays in the second half. The D-line was stout in stopping the run but didn’t get much pressure on the QB. Look for the D-line to bring more designed packages against BYU next week.

Tune in next week for a write-up on the rivalry game!

– Jesse Beckstrom

 

 

BYU Football: Week 1 Impressions

BYU vs PSU 17
Isaac Hale – Daily Herald

Last Week I predicted BYU would win the first game of the season against Portland St. 51-10.

If I were just looking at the score I’d say BYU’s defense was a little better than I had projected, and the offense was much worse than I had projected.

But I’m not.

Both sides of the ball were not what I envisioned—at all. Allow me to elaborate.

Offense:

I thought Tanner Mangum would come out big in this game. He didn’t look bad, but he didn’t look great either. Good? Maybe, but not great. I love his passing form and trajectory. To me, it’s the best I’ve seen in a long time, and I suspect he will turn out to be one of BYU’s best passers of all time. However, with all his talent, he didn’t live up to expectations. He went 16/27 for 194 yards and a TD. Normally I’d say that wasn’t necessarily a bad game, but this is against a team that he should have had a 300 yard passing game with 3-4 touchdown passes until his back-up came in in the 4th quarter. Tanner will have to do much better in the weeks to come.

The receiving game was questionable too. I wasn’t at the game, so it’s difficult to tell if the receivers were getting open. I’m curious as to why Coach Detmer didn’t pass the ball more than 27 times. Let’s hope that was just the game plan this week; but it will be critical for BYU’s success to unleash Tanner’s gun-slinging talent against more talented teams.

Squally Canada ran the ball 16 times for 98 yards, averaging 6.1 yards per carry While Kavika Fonua looked good going 7 carries for 59 yards. Not bad, but again, it was Portland St. I’ll hold off on any criticism in the run game until next week.

Defense:

As a whole, the defense wasn’t bad. If it weren’t for the defensive effort, BYU could have easily lost this game; that, and PSU looked horrible offensively. Let’s see how they do against Derrius Guice and the LSU offense this week. But holding any college team to 6 points is notable, and it gives me hope that the defense is on the right track.

The offensive and defensive lines were not great either. They should have blown over the lesser talent, but didn’t. The verdict is still out for now on whether or not there are problems. I am, however, very concerned.

Summary:

I know a lot of fans were disappointed with the outcome of this game, and so was I. If BYU were a glass of water, I’d say they are half full, not half empty. My suspicion is that Sitaki and Detmer went pure vanilla against PSU (or at least I hope so). Why show their cards and why use all their ammunition against an inferior team in the first game of the season? That’s definitely something to think about.

Keep your heads up, BYU fans. I believe Detmer used this game to set up something much bigger against an unsuspecting LSU team. I still think BYU will lose that game, but I think fans will be happier losing a good fought game against a great team than winning an awfully fought game against a bad team.

If there are any doubts about who this BYU team is, then certainly we will know who they are by Saturday night when Coach Sitake and Coach Detmer lay all their cards on the table. Let’s just hope they’re not bluffing.

–Troy Thayne

Utah Football: Weekly Season Predictions

Huntley 18
Photo Credit: Scott G Winterton

It’s that time of the year again. Football season is in the air, and I can’t wait for this Saturday. Summer is fun and all, but let’s be honest, fall is the best season of the year – and it’s not because of the weather.

A lot has changed since last season where the Utes won 9 games. Former starting RB Joe Williams is now with the San Francisco 49ers, fighting for the backup job. The entire O-line is gone, with four of them in the NFL. Along with most of the D-line and linebackers.

So, what can this years team bring to the table? Some fans are taking the glass is half empty approach. As for me, I like to think positively and hope for the best. But you can’t deny the difficulty of the Utes’ schedule this year.

The Utes have a very tough schedule as they play UW, USC, and Oregon all on the road, along with Stanford and WSU at home.

But let’s get down to brass tacks.

Weekly Predictions:

vs. North Dakota – W (35-10)

at BYU – W (17-13)

vs. San Jose St. – W (30-14)

at Arizona – W (21-17)

vs. #14 Stanford – L (14-28)

at #4 USC – L (20-31)

vs. Arizona St. – W (24-14)

at Oregon – W (35-21)

vs. UCLA – W (21-14)

vs. #24 Washington St. – L (24-35)

at #8 Washington – L (17-31)

vs. Colorado – W (24-10)

Regular Season Record: 8-4

Starting off the season 4-0 looks nice. But having to play Stanford and USC back to back is brutal.

FB Schedules has the Utes listed as the 12th toughest schedule in the nation. With all of the roster changes, can the Utes pull out 8 wins with the 12th toughest schedule? Yes. I think its possible. Utah’s defense always seems to bounce back, even with guys leaving for the NFL each year.

The offense is my biggest question mark. The O-line is completely different from last year and QB Tyler Huntley will be a first year starter, along with RB Zack Moss.

Most fans will be looking to see how first year OC Troy Taylor will do with the offense, and see if he can improve the teams horrible red-zone offense. The Utes finished 51st in the nation in total offense last season.

 

– Jesse Thayne

 

BYU Football: The Best Time of the Year!

Tanner Mangum
Photo Credit – Isaac Hale, Daily Herald

It has been a loooong off-season for college football. Like most of you, I have been anxiously awaiting the season to start. In the malaise of summer, I resorted to watching some of the games I recorded last year, and the year before that to fill the void.

Remember two years ago when Tanner Mangum took over for Taysom Hill against Nebraska? How about the very next game against Boise St.? Yeah, I watched those games a few times this year too.

I also remember last year, wondering if Taysom Hill could regain his former athleticism and bring glory to BYU as in years gone by.

The answer for me was no. But that was then, and this is now. Taysom is playing, at least for the time being, for the Green Bay Packers, and the Cougars’ team now belongs to Tanner Mangum.

So what can we expect from the Cougars this year? It’s difficult to say. The front end of the year is brutal, and I mean brutal! With the exception of Portland St., BYU has its hands full to say the least.

So let’s have some fun and gaze into the crystal ball…

Portland St.— This should be a warm-up game for the Coogs. I won’t waste anyone’s time by delving into this one, so I’ll just make a prediction that BYU will easily win this one 51-10

#12 LSU—Now this is where things get dicey. The Tigers come in as the #12 team in the Coaches Poll. Danny Etling, the LSU QB is coming off a sub-par year in 2016 averaging only 138 passing yards per game. How much of that anemic passing game was due to Leonard Fournette and the running game is hard to tell. Now some of you might think Fournette’s departure helps the BYU’s cause, and you could be correct; however, LSU has reloaded at running back with Derrius Guice. Who is Derrius Guice you might ask? Well, for one, he’s a Heisman Trophy candidate, and two, he averaged 9.0 yards per carry last year. The question that surrounds LSU is their defensive front seven. LSU lost a handful of defensive players to the NFL. But knowing the SEC, they probably have plenty of talent to fill the void. LSU’s secondary should be their strength, so BYU needs to be able to match up well in the passing game, or have a back-up plan to run the ball.

Prediction: LSU 31-21

byu vs utah

Utah— Is this the year BYU finally pulls out a win against their arch rival? Utah won in a squeaker last year, 20-19. This year’s game is at home, so that should help. With Joe and Jamaal Williams both gone to the NFL, who is going to step up in the running game on both sides? I don’t see either team racking up great numbers running the ball, so passing and play selection are key to success in this game.

It was just announced that sophomore QB Tyler Huntley was named the starter for Utah. This was surprising because everyone automatically assumed that last year’s starter, Troy Williams was a lock. So there is a big question mark about Utah’s passing game right out of the gate. Before that announcement I had envisioned a Utah victory; but now I have to give the edge to BYU.

Prediction: BYU 24-20

#9 Wisconsin— This Wisconsin team is sort of an enigma this year. They are projected as the Big10 favorite. Both of Wisconsin’s running backs from last year are gone, but when one factors in the huge offensive lineman averaging around 330 pounds, it probably doesn’t matter so much who runs the ball. The QB position is questionable this year, so expect a heavy dose of the run from the Badgers. Their top 10 defense is sure to cause problems for Tanner and the gang.

Prediction: Wisconsin 27-17

Utah St.– This is always an interesting match-up because of the rivalry factor. With most rivalry games, anything can happen, but I believe the Cougars will be battle-tested coming in to this game at Logan.

Prediction: BYU 38-14

byu vs bsu

Boise St— If there’s one game I dread this year, it’s this one. BSU always comes in ready to play, and they always bring with them a ton of talent. QB Brett Rypien is a formidable opponent for any defense out there. BYU will have their hands full trying to keep him under control. BYU has had success against BSU at home in recent years, but BSU will be ready this time around.

Prediction: BSU 35-31

Mississippi St— Even with the Davy O’Brien watch-list quarterback, Nick Fitzgerald, I see the Bulldogs beatable at home this year if BYU brings its ‘A’ game. It is quite possible that MSU with all of its SEC size could wear down the Cougars if they aren’t healthy.

Prediction: BYU 27-24

The rest of the schedule is downhill from there. I would be cautious if I were BYU because an East Carolina or San Jose could surprise us. If the Cougars can maintain focus and remain healthy, they should finish the season strong going 6-0.

Season Prediction 10-3

A 10-3 record with a tough schedule might get BYU into a bigger bowl game this year if the cards fall into place. Ah, the possibilities!

If BYU somehow can’t get it together the first half of the season, which is still possible, even finishing the season with a winning record and a trip to a mid-tier bowl game, it will be a disappointment.

I hope next year I’ll be watching some new recordings on the DVR of wins at LSU, against Wisconsin, and Boise St. I doubt it, but then again, it’s just part of being a BYU fan I suppose, and I can dream, can’t I?

-Troy Thayne