PROVO — Call it a curtain call for BYU quarterbacks who were not a bowl game MVP.
Jaren Hall, Joe Critchlow and Baylor Romney will get almost all the snaps during BYU’s spring camp as starter Zach Wilson goes through post-surgery rehabilitation, according to quarterbacks coach Aaron Roderick.
“It’s a great opportunity for them. It will be good for Jaren since he wasn’t here all of last year," Roderick said. "He really only had a few reps in fall camp and then did a great job developing during the season. He just found a way to always do enough to stay in our minds and so this spring is really huge.
"It’s a great chance for Joe to show where he should rank in this thing and it is a chance for Baylor to show what he can do and pass one of those guys up," he continued. "It will be fun. I’m excited to see all these guys and how it shakes out."
As reported, Wilson’s surgery is the result of an injury he suffered back in high school.
“We knew that he had it and was dealing with it all year, and I knew that we might need to do something as the season went on,” said Roderick.
“It was just taking him longer and longer to warm up in practices each day and for games. At the end of the season, it was taking quite a while to get warmed up. It began as five, then 10 or more minutes. There were a bunch of us who were involved in the decision with his parents. We wanted to take care of him. We care about his future and not just now and winning games. It was time to get it cleaned up. It’s going to be fine and he is getting the best care. It is not going to be a problem.”
Wilson had his surgery in Southern California and told BYUtv he would be working with former BYU and NFL quarterback John Beck in San Diego to get his arm back in throwing shape during the offseason. Thursday, Pro Football Focus rated Wilson the nation’s No. 3 true freshman quarterback behind Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence and Iowa State’s Brock Purdy.
Roderick said Wilson had learned to deal with the injury for some time. He played at a high level, evident by his performances in the last six games of the 2018 season.
“He would never complain about it, but I could just see it in his body language,” said Roderick.
Aside from this challenge leading up to the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, Wilson stunned a national TV audience by completing 18 of 18 passes in Boise, a school record at BYU.
BYU scored 42 of 49 points in the second half, 28 in the third quarter. Wilson’s perfect completion percentage resulted in 317 yards, 17.6 yards per completion and an efficiency rating of 321.27.
“That didn’t have anything to do with me,” laughed Roderick. “I think it was just a credit to him and to our players.”
The perfect throwing game got off to a slow start in the first half in Boise, but Roderick said it wasn’t how people like to describe it — that suddenly the BYU offense woke up.
What happened, said Roderick, is Western Michigan came out with a defense it had not shown before and it took time to make adjustments. At halftime, BYU’s staff designed a counter-attack and in the second half it worked, as the Cougars scored on nearly every possession.
“We were playing our butts off that first half. It just took us a while to get used to what we were seeing. It wasn’t what we had prepared for," Roderick explained. "I thought we came up with good answers at halftime. We thought we could attack what they were doing.”
Roderick said Wilson was “in the zone” and “a bunch of receivers made plays.” The protections were good and BYU got the run game going.
Western Michigan’s half a month prep to confuse Roderick and offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes worked. In 2019’s opener, Utah will have an entire offseason to do the same.24 comments on this story
“Yeah, they’re probably going to see some things they weren’t expecting either, but I can’t re-create everything that’s out there and prepare for it. You can guess. I know Kyle (Whittingham) and (Morgan) Scalley and how great they are when they have a lot of time to prepare. They are great coaches.
“But we also have a great amount of time to prepare for them and do some things they may not prepare for," Roderick said. "Opening games are all about guessing and limiting your own mistakes. Those who win are usually the ones who do what they do best and just execute what they are used to doing.”
The offseason factor is always filled with drama.
The rehab of Wilson just adds to the script.