LAS VEGAS — Friday night at Sam Boyd Stadium, Joe Critchlow became the latest BYU quarterback to make his first start as a freshman.
Earlier this week, coach Kalani Sitake announced that there would be an open competition between Beau Hoge, Critchlow and Kody Wilstead to see who would start against UNLV after junior Tanner Mangum went down with a season-ending Achilles injury last week at Fresno State.
Offensive coordinator Ty Detmer said that Hoge would start if he were healthy. Hoge's foot has been in a boot and did not practice this week, Detmer said Friday.
Critchlow, a a 6-foot-4, 200-pound native of Franklin, Tennessee, became the third Cougar to start at quarterback this season.
Four members of the Critchlow family made the trip from the Volunteer State to watch his first collegiate start.
It’s marks first time that a BYU quarterback listed fourth on the depth chart at the beginning of the season has started a game since Tom Young in 1992.
Koy Detmer, Jr., who saw action in the Utah State game in place of an injured Hoge, started the season No. 3 on the depth chart.
In the first half, Critchlow completed 10 of 14 passes for 119 yards and a touchdown as the Cougars took a 14-7 halftime lead.
It’s not uncommon for a freshman to start at QB for BYU, at least in recent years.
In 2015, Mangum started 12 games as a freshman. Taysom Hill started two games as a freshman in 2012 and Jake Heaps started in 10 games as a freshman in 2010.
Critchlow’s backup Friday night was Wilstead, who is also a freshman. Both Critchlow and Wilstead are recently returned missionaries.
Detmer said earlier this week that Wilstead would prefer not redshirting this season if he has a chance to play.
AN ALUM’S PERSPECTIVE: Former BYU running back Kalin Hall returned to his hometown of Las Vegas for Friday’s game, although his son, KJ, did not play as he is still recovering from an injury.
Hall said he supports the coaching staff despite the monumental struggles this season.
“I understand the ups and downs trying to start a program essentially from scratch trying to get your own philosophy, players and terminology,” he said. “It’s been a little frustrating but at the same time, I understand the process. We’re behind our coaching staff and our kids 110 percent. Obviously, we want to see more and better. It will get better. I have full confidence in the guys, recruiting and getting better. We have some guys coming next year that will help immensely. We’ll look forward to progression.”
NOTES: BYU safety Zayne Anderson made his second interception of the season in the first half, picking off UNLV’s Johnny Stanton in the end zone It was Stanton’s first interception of the season Cougar punter Jonny Linehan had a 52-yard punt that pinned the Rebels on their own 7-yard line in the first quarter.