Kelsey Brunner, Deseret News
Joe Critchlow hands off the ball while running plays at the BYU Cougars' first practice of the season in Provo on Thursday, July 27, 2017.

STARKVILLE, Miss. — While his hometown of Franklin, Tennessee, is about 270 miles away from Mississippi State, for BYU freshman backup quarterback Joe Critchlow, Saturday’s game between the Cougars and Bulldogs is a little like a homecoming.

About 75 of Critchlow’s family and friends will be attending the contest at Davis Wade Stadium.

Last week in the waning moments of BYU’s loss to Boise State, Critchlow made his collegiate debut. He could get more snaps Saturday.

Growing up in the South, Critchlow followed the Southeastern Conference. He said he liked the University of Tennessee “but I was more of a Vanderbilt fan, being from Nashville. My mother was employed at Vanderbilt for quite some time. It was a little bit closer to home.”

Though he’s only been home from his mission for 3½ months and had been planning on redshirting this season, Critchlow said he’s ready to see more playing time.

“Being on a mission, you get really accustomed to some hectic situations,” he said. “Being able to come back and hop right into a situation like I was in was difficult but not too much of a challenge for me to handle. I really feel comfortable with the campus and with the football team. I’m really happy to be here.”

BYU wide receiver Neil Pau’u said he likes what Critchlow brings to BYU’s offense.

“He’s calm. He’s willing to learn. Now that he’s getting this opportunity, I think he’ll run away with it and take full advantage of this opportunity,” Pau’u said. “He’s a smart kid and he’s willing to work and learn. He’s patient in the pocket.”

3 comments on this story

TRAVELIN’ MEN: BYU has already traveled to New Orleans this season and this week the Cougars are in Starkville. There are games in the coming weeks at East Carolina, Fresno and Hawaii. With six road games and one neutral-site game this season, BYU will travel 17,246 miles.

MSU VS. NON-CONFERENCE FOES: Mississippi State is 34-7 under coach Dan Mullen in all non-SEC games. During that span, the Bulldogs are 20-3 against non-SEC opponents at home.

MSU’s only home losses against non-SEC foes came against Georgia Tech and Houston in 2009 and last year against South Alabama.

The Bulldogs have outscored non-conference foes 106-21 this season.