I’m trying to preach to them that before we play our first game, we’ve got to be on it because there’s just not that many reps during the season to keep improving. —BYU passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach Aaron Roderick
PROVO — First-year BYU passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach Aaron Roderick started spring practices managing eight QBs on the roster.
Heading into the final week of spring ball, junior Beau Hoge, sophomore Joe Critchlow and freshman Zach Wilson have been getting all of the reps. The starter is expected be determined during fall camp.
How does Roderick assess the progress of his quarterbacks?
“We have a long way to go. I can say that I feel like we’re on schedule of where we need to be by the end of spring. One thing I’ve tried to express to the guys is that you get 15 practices in the spring and 29 in the fall before your first game. That’s 44 practices,” he said. “Then you practice three times a week. Your practice season is more than halfway over before you play your first game. I’m trying to preach to them that before we play our first game, we’ve got to be on it because there’s just not that many reps during the season to keep improving. You can’t keep adding a lot of stuff and doing a lot of new things. Every day is critical and I feel like we’re on track but a lot of work to do.”
Senior Tanner Mangum, who started eight games in 2017, suffered a season-ending Achilles injury last November. Mangum has recovered quicker than expected and has been participating in non-contact drills this spring.
“I’m surprised. He seems to be way ahead of schedule. He’s running with no limp, full speed and sprinting. He looks good,” Roderick said. “It’s been good because he’s getting time every day with our guys, he’s learning our offense and he throws in all our throwing drills. Even the 7-on-7 drills are important, and he’s involved in all of that and throwing completions.”
Hoge started two games last year and was hampered by injuries while Critchlow started the final three contests.
“Beau’s doing a good job. Other than a little bit of sickness he dealt with and missed a little time, he’s been good in the spring,” Roderick said. “He’s athletic, smart and he’s taken good care of the ball. I don’t think he’s turned one over that I can think of. I like where he’s at. His experience shows and even Joe as well. The little bit Joe played last year, you see the level of poise and calm, even when things aren’t going well, they’ve been there before. You see that out of both of those guys.”
Wilson, a Corner Canyon High product who enrolled at BYU in January, has been impressive during the spring.
“He’s a talented guy and he can make some plays. (At times) he tried to do too much. That’s part of being a young player,” Roderick said of Wilson. “It’s learning when to take chances and when to be smart. But his upside is really high. He’s got a lot of talent.”
Does the type of offense BYU runs this season depend on which quarterback emerges as the starter?
“I would say the offense we run is going to pretty much be the same, but we can adapt,” Roderick said. “It’s multiple enough that we can adapt to the quarterback’s skills. The personnel groups we play with, the formations, shifts, motions and tempos would be the same no matter who plays quarterback. It’s just that depending on who the QB is, we might have slightly different bells and whistles. The core stuff will be the same no matter what. That’s what we like about this offense. We’re repeating the same stuff over and over and getting good at core plays in the run game and the passing game.”
It would seem that overseeing a quarterback battle is a stressful experience.
“There’s always anxiety. That’s the nature of the business. Your next game feels like it’s life or death. That’s just how it is,” Roderick said. “Every game is the biggest thing that’s ever happened in your life and every decision you make, we agonize over every single thing. Yeah, it would be nice to have everything completely sorted out. But I enjoy the process. I think the competition will make everybody better. Hopefully through this process we don’t just find out who our starter is, but we also make every single guy in the group perform at a higher level than they were before. That’s the plan.”