PROVO — As BYU’s offense sputtered Saturday afternoon against UMass, the Cougar coaching staff considered replacing freshman Joe Critchlow with his backup, freshman Kody Wilstead.
Not that the offense’s struggles were all because of Critchlow.
Critchlow was sacked seven times and threw four interceptions, including a couple of tipped balls, and, at times, his receivers failed to make plays on his passes.
When asked about giving another quarterback a shot Saturday, Sitake said, “Yeah, we thought about doing that. They’re all young quarterbacks that haven’t had a lot of reps. We made the decision that we made. Without getting into specifics, Joe was the best option for us at the time.”
Critchlow completed 21 of 34 passes for 257 yards with one touchdown. He threw for 206 yards in the second half.
Did Critchlow appreciate the coaches' leaving him in for the entire game?
“I’ve felt confidence throughout this season from the coaching staff and my teammates. They’ve always had my back,” he said. “They’ve always been willing to show me support, even in times of adversity. That’s something the seniors have taught us well this year, how to handle adversity. We’ve faced a lot of it this year.”
Sitake said the offense needs to get better.
“We just got behind and had to play catchup. It was hard to score points,” he said. “It’s difficult to win games with 10 points on the scoreboard.”
WHERE’S SQUALLY?: BYU running back Squally Canada, who rushed for a career-high 213 yards last week against UNLV, ran eight times for 44 yards in the first half but finished with 11 carries for 51 yards.
“He got banged up a little bit earlier in the first half,” Sitake said. “I don’t think it was anything that shouldn’t have kept him out.”
KJ Hall, who suffered an injury in the San Jose State game, returned Saturday and ran eight times for 37 yards and caught four passes for 33 yards.
SENIORS HONORED: Before Saturday’s final home game, BYU honored 18 seniors against UMass — tight end Tanner Balderree, placekicker Corey Edwards, defensive back Kamel Greene, linebacker Matt Hadley, safety Micah Hannemann, linebacker Grant Jones, offensive lineman Tuni Kanuch, offensive lineman Tejan Koroma, defensive back Hiva Lee, punter Jonny Linehan, linebacker Va’a Niumatalolo, offensive lineman Keyan Norman, running back Creed Richardson, defensive back Cody Stewart, offensive lineman Handsome Tanielu, defensive lineman Kesni Tausinga, wide receiver Jonah Trinnaman and linebacker Fred Warner.
Hadley and Jones, who suffered season-ending injuries and are on crutches, were carted onto the field.
BY THE NUMBERS: Trinnaman, who has worn No. 3 during his BYU career, wore No. 7 Saturday. That’s the number he wore in high school.
Holder Gavin Fowler wore No. 37 to honor Jones.
NOVEMBER HOME STREAK OVER: Before Saturday, BYU hadn’t lost a home game in the month of November since a 41-34 loss to Utah in 2005.
EXTRA POINTS: Michael Shelton had eight punt returns for 86 yards, including a 39-yarder. Placekicker Rhett Almond booted a 40-yard field goal in the third quarter. It was his second career field goal of 40 yards or more after drilling a 46-yarder against Fresno State on Nov. 4.