We’re all planning to play this fall. We want to compete and lead this team and help the entire team. —BYU sophomore QB Joe Critchlow
PROVO — BYU’s spring practices concluded last Saturday — but the quarterback battle continues.
Sophomore Joe Critchlow turned in an impressive performance in the spring scrimmage at LaVell Edwards Stadium as one of five QBs who directed at least one series.
Meanwhile, Cougar coaches are not providing any hints about who might be the starting quarterback this fall. Even the QBs themselves are in the dark.
“We haven’t been told anything about the quarterback race. The mentality for us all hasn’t changed," Critchlow said. "We’re all planning to play this fall. We want to compete and lead this team and help the entire team. Who that guy is? We don’t know yet. But I’m pretty sure he’ll come forth eventually.”
Critchlow, sophomore Beau Hoge and freshman Zach Wilson have been getting the majority of the reps during the spring.
Senior Tanner Mangum, who has the most experience of all of the quarterbacks, has made a rapid recovery from an Achilles injury suffered last November. He didn’t participate in any 11-on-11 drills during the spring, but he did get a lot of reps in 7-on-7 drills.
“He’s really close to going live. He’ll join the competition and we’ll get going,” coach Kalani Sitake said of Mangum. “They’ll have their player-run practices (over the summer) and we’ll see what happens in the fall.”
BYU opened spring ball last month with eight quarterbacks, including Baylor Romney and Stacy Conner on the roster.
Offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes said after the scrimmage that the number of QBs vying for the starting job has been whittled down, but he wasn’t willing to say how many are still being considered. Grimes added that he needed to look at the film before evaluating the quarterbacks’ performances last Saturday.
“I’m so busy calling plays sometimes I’m not sure which quarterback is even in the game until they do something silly,” Grimes said.
Critchlow completed 9 of 12 passes for 130 yards and a touchdown in the spring scrimmage and led three scoring drives. He felt like he helped his cause.
“For sure. Any positive plays or drives or touchdowns, especially in a scrimmage like this, helps the quarterback. But as far as the race, I’m not sure,” Critchlow said. “There were definitely things that I could improve on. But the thing I was most pleased with today is that I sustained some really nice drives. We had a field goal and two touchdowns, and if we’re putting points on the board, then I’m doing my job.”
Wilson was asked if he’s done enough to position himself as the possible starter.
“No, I don’t,” he said. “I can improve a lot. It’s not just me but everyone. It’s still early, and I think we’ll get a lot better.”
What is his plan to get ready for fall camp?
“Just getting my body right. I’m trying to put on some weight and get bigger and stronger and faster,” Wilson said. “I want to spend every day working on the connection with my receivers.”
On the defensive side, senior defensive lineman Corbin Kaufusi said the scrimmage will be helpful moving forward. He added that there’s a lot to do between now and the time practices resume in August.
“Obviously, there’s film that we can watch. We’re using this as a launch pad to go into the offseason workouts,” he said. “A lot of people think once spring’s over, it’s quiet until fall. It’s kind of the opposite. You make a lot of gains between spring and fall camp.”
What’s the next step for the offense?
“We’re going to show if we’re really tied into this offense and if we’re really committed by our offseason workouts,” Critchlow said. “If we’re meeting together often, going through film and working on the timing with the receivers, I feel like that’s the next step for us, being able to do it without the coaches by our side.”
Grimes said a lot of starting jobs at several positions on the offense are still up for grabs.
Naturally, all eyes are on the quarterbacks. The coaches have urged them to keep battling.
“They’ve told us to compete. They’ve told us all to play as if we’re going to play in the fall. That’s what we’ve done thus far. We’ve got a great feel amongst the quarterbacks as well, and we’ll continue to work hard,” Critchlow said. “The quarterbacks, we don’t even know what’s going to happen. We’re all just trying to do our best to show ourselves and prove that we can be that guy and help this team win. I’m confident that the coaches will make a great decision on who will play for us this fall. I hope that it’s me, but we’ll see what happens.”