After the second day of fall camp Jamaal Williams announced he would be suspended for one game for his violation of team rules. Per usual we do not know what team rules were violated leading to his suspension. Although he did mention is was a combination of events as stated in the following tweet by Jay Drew of the Salt Lake Tribune:
BYU's Williams said his punishment is from a combination of the spring under age drinking incident and a subsequent misstep.— Jay Drew (@drewjay) August 2, 2014
With "J Swag Daddy" missing the opener it does leave the Cougars without one of their greatest offensive weapons. This raises concerns on the effectiveness of BYU's 2014 edition of the "Go Hard, Go Fast" offense. Starting the season strong has not been on of BYU's strong suits over the past few seasons. This could make starting the season off on the right foot a little more difficult, but far from insurmountable.
Taysom Hill is a very talented quarterback, particularly in the run game, but even he can't carry the load completely on his own. Though Hill did run for more than 1300 yards last season, eclipsing 100 yards five times and even more than 250 yards in BYU's rout of Texas at Lavell Edwards Stadium last September. Williams was the second leading rusher last season with 1233 yards last season and eclipsing 100 yards in five games too.
Hill didn't appear overly worried about missing Williams when he said, "We've got a lot of weapons with Hine, Lasike and Alge Brown."
The running back position group is one of the deepest positions for BYU with Paul Lasike, Alge Brown and Adam Hine likely to pick up the bulk of the carries with Williams sitting out. Lasike could possibly be one to immediately benefit from Williams absence. Though he looks to be more suited to play as the other runner out of the backfield, not the primary ball carrier. Adam Hine is more in the mold of Jamaal, though he has less game experience at that position and less carries than Lasike and Brown. After Jamaal went down with a scary neck injury against Utah last season, Brown had the most carries of the backs in the following game against Middle Tennessee State.
The likely solution appears to be that the three ball carriers will split up the load relatively evenly without Williams. Hine is the shiftiest and fastest of the remaining three backs, Alge Brown is a straight bull dozer and Lasike, though with good speed, is still closer to a bruiser like Brown.
One thing to keep an eye on is how Hine responds. BYU fans have been waiting for Hine to break out for what seems like a very long time. This would be the perfect opportunity for him to do it. With Williams sitting out the first game it gives Hine, or the other backs, to establish themselves as good chance of pace backs to give Williams a breather this season.
BYU is not unfamiliar to the prospect of starting the season without one of its biggest weapons. All-time leading receiver, Cody Hoffman sat out last season's opener with a hamstring injury. Hoffman's absence was certainly a factor in the heart breaking loss to Virginia as receivers struggled to get open and catch passes from Hill. The "Go Fast, Go Hard" offense went fast that game but sputtered without a reliable passing attack.
Jamaal Williams missing the game against UConn does definitely hurt the offensive attack for BYU. But it shouldn't hurt them enough to cost the Cougars a victory. BYU still has one of the most athletic quarterbacks in the country leading the charge and with a talented group of running backs to step in for Williams and a reloaded receiving group the Cougars shouldn't skip a beat. Look for Williams' absence to have a small effect on the outcome of the game and for BYU to start the season 1-0.
A few other tidbits that came out from the practice is that WR Brett Thompson, DB Drew Reilly, and DE Kevan Bill will no longer play football due to ongoing medical issues.