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Countdown to Kickoff (49): Can Zach Wilson average 300 yards passing per game?

Let’s set some reasonable expectations.

BYU v Utah Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images

As we all know Zach Wilson did a terrible job of tempering expectations for his sophomore campaign after he threw a perfect game in the Idaho Potato Bowl. His record setting performance has let to many BYU fans setting astronomical expectations for what he could potentially achieve in 2019.

To help level set on what we should actually expect to see, we’ll discuss if it’s possible for Zach to average 300+ yards passing per game in 2019.

Ever since the departure of one Dr Robert Anae, the BYU passing game has been more of a water fight than an actually attack. The Ty Detmer era produced two seasons of fits and starts and last year definitely felt like a transition between offensive staffs and ultimately starting quarterbacks. To help put things in context, in the last three years there have only been three games (one each season) in which a BYU QB threw for over 300 yards. In 2015 alone, Tanner Mangum reached that mark five times. The last quarterback to average over 300 yards passing per game was one Christian Stewart.

I’ll be the first to say that straight passing yard totals aren’t the best measure of success. The one time that BYU passed for over 300 yards in a game in 2017 was against East Carolina, one of the worst losses that season. Also, passing for 300 yards or more in a game has a lot to do with coaching philosophy. Your team could have a future NFL starter under center but they won’t top 300 yards per game because the coach wants to keep things grounded.

So with that context placed before us, can we expect that Zach Wilson will average 300+ passing yards per game in 2019? I wouldn’t bet on it.

This has less to do with Zach and his ability to throw the football and more to do with the play calling. If Robert Anae were still calling the shots there is no question that Zach would be piling up the yardage totals; but the Kalani / Grimes contingent doesn’t operate under that same direction. Since Kalani took over offensive balance has been a priority and I would expect that to continue in 2019.

I would venture to guess that there will be at least four games in which Zach hits the 300 yard mark, but being able to keep up that pace throughout the entire season will be difficult. Having a significant number of starters back on the offensive side of the ball will help, along with the fact that the offense will be better suited to the players. We saw the offense make a major shift last year when Zach replaced Tanner Mangum, and now that things are a little more stable we can expect a stronger output.

At the end of the day, the exact output of the offense in terms of yardage doesn’t really matter so long as they’re being efficient on yards per play because that’s what will ultimately lead to more points and wins.