Quarterbacks standing out after Monday's practice
PROVO, Utah – The BYU football team began its second full week of fall camp with a late afternoon practice Monday.
A Look at the Quarterbacks
BYU’s quarterback position is well stocked for the 2018 campaign. A starter hasn’t been named by the coaching staff but the position race was narrowed to two following Monday’s practice.
“We feel like we’ve narrowed it down to two guys,” offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes said. “We feel like Tanner Mangum and Zach Wilson right now are the two guys that we’re going to concentrate our reps on. Those two have been neck and neck since the day that we started and have outperformed all of the other guys.”
Mangum has started 21 of 26 career games and has thrown for 5,158 yards and 34 touchdowns. Mangum started eight games last season, passing for 1,540 yards and eight scores in an injury shortened season.
The freshman, Wilson, enrolled in January to get familiar with the new offense and has impressed since arriving on campus. A local Utah product from Corner Canyon High School, Wilson threw for just shy of 3,000 yards and 24 touchdowns as a senior and added 752 yards and eight scores on the ground.
Joe Critchlow, a sophomore, is back after starting the final three games of 2017. The Franklin, Tennessee, standout has a big arm and threw for 642 yards and three touchdowns, winning two of his three starts last year.
Recently returned from an LDS mission, Jaren Hall is another quarterback competing for time. A dual-threat star from Maple Mountain High School, Hall is the brother of running back KJ Hall and son of former BYU running back Kalin Hall.
Stacy Conner and Baylor Romney also joined the team in January and have added depth to the position group. At 6-foot-5, Conner is a long, talented athlete with a big upside and Romney is another athlete that can contribute in multiple ways.
Beau Hoge, who moved to running back in fall camp, hasn’t taken any reps at quarterback as he focuses on learning a new position. However, the redshirt junior has game experience, starting two games at quarterback in 2017.
The following quotes are from Monday’s post-practice media availability.
Offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes
On evaluating Saturday's scrimmage
"It was a solid first scrimmage. I thought we could have executed better, but overall statistically pretty good. We had no turnovers. The run game wasn’t bad. We had about 4.8 yards per carry. We’d like to be higher than that, we’d like to be five-plus ideally. We were 62 percent efficient on runs, meaning we got what we needed 62 percent of the time. We did a decent job throwing the football too. We threw 67 percent overall and 63 percent on third down completions."
"We didn’t always protect great. Some of the time it was the offensive line, some of the time it was the routes, some of the time it was getting rid of the football a little sooner. We gave up too many pressures in protection. Overall it was a solid first day. We scored in a two-minute drill which is real positive. It was a good start but also good for me because there are a lot of things I can chastise them about in improving for the next scrimmage."
On the quarterback situation
"We feel like we’ve narrowed it down to two guys. We feel like Tanner Mangum and Zach Wilson right now are the two guys that we’re going to concentrate our reps on. Those two have been neck and neck since the day that we started and have outperformed all of the other guys. Those two guys will be the ones who will be getting pretty much all of the reps with the ones and most of the reps with the twos. Jaren Hall has positioned himself to compete with Joe Critchlow for the third team spot. I think he’s done some really nice things and Joe has too, he’s just been outperformed by those other two guys."
"I think the most important thing is naming the right guys rather than the right time. Sooner rather than later is good but we haven’t tied ourselves down to a specific day yet."
Quarterback coach Aaron Roderick
On quarterbacks play in Saturday’s scrimmage
“I thought they were efficient. We had zero turnovers, which was a huge emphasis during spring and will continue to be. I feel like if we take care of the ball like that, we’re going to have a chance to win no matter what. Tanner and Zach had the exact same numbers, 16 of 21. I thought that Joe and Jaren got in and did some good things as well.”
Thoughts on Tanner and Zach
“They’ve both done a great job at pushing each other. They’ve thrown a lot of completions out here. They’re making my job tough because they’ve been very sharp. We have a lot of work to do still, but I’m impressed with both of them.”
On the focus for Tanner and Zach before the next scrimmage
“Ninety percent of our offense is in, so now it’s just refining all the details of these plays. Just getting through our reads quicker and getting the ball out of our hands quicker. Not turning the ball over is No. 1 and now the next thing is to get it out of our hands. We don’t want to be a team that takes sacks. We’re going to get rid of it quick and find the open man.”
Factors on determining the starting quarterback
“Our criteria that we talk about every day is to take care of the football, move the team and score points. Points is not always throwing touchdowns. Sometimes it’s converting a third down on third and one before scoring three plays later on a run play. Whoever does that best will get the chance to start in the game. I’ve also made it clear that just because you get to start doesn’t mean it’s your job for 12 games.”
“The best guy is going to play at every position on this team. Coach Grimes has been really demanding of our offense that we’re not going to lower the bar for anybody. You’re going to play up to our expectations. It doesn’t matter how old you are or how long you’ve been here.”
Quarterback Tanner Mangum
On competing with Zach for the starting quarterback position
“Nothing changes. Every day we still have to attack with the same mindset to go out and do our job each play. We take each play one at a time, one day at a time. That’s just how you have to approach it and everything else will take care of itself. My mindset and approach, same with the other guys, still comes down to us coming out, competing and executing.
On his biggest takeaway from the scrimmage on Saturday
“We ran a lot of plays and got a lot of reps, which was great. I think we needed that, not only just to get more reps but also for conditioning to get a game-like feel of how it’s going to be. I thought our running game looked really good. That was a big takeaway. Our offensive line has put in a lot of work and it’s paying off. Our running backs are hitting the holes and it was great to see that run game take off. We did a good job of taking care of the ball in the turnovers in almost 120 plays. That means we’re taking care of the ball and making good decisions. That was definitely a highlight as well.
On Coach Grimes’ emphasis on no turners from spring ball
He’s harped on that since he’s got here. Since day one we have ball security taking care of the football. We’re not going to win games if we give it away and especially as a quarterback group we have to put a big premium on that. We can’t play scared or hesitant, but we can make smart decisions and do the best we can. If we can play turnover free then we can give ourselves a good shot.
On the quarterback competition
I’ve been a part of a few competitions. In 2015 when I first got here, I was competing for the backup spot behind Taysom. In 2016 I was competing with Taysom for the starting spot. This year there’s a heavy competition. I’ve been a part of competitions before and it’s always good. It’s healthy and pushes everyone to be at their best. You can’t take any days off. You can’t take any plays off because every rep counts. It’s been good for us to help push each other to be at our best. That’s good for us as a team as well.
Quarterback Zach Wilson
Thoughts on Saturday's scrimmage
"There were a lot of promising moments from the scrimmage. The mental errors and those things will clean up but I think there’s a lot of promise in what we have and the team has bought in. We could see a lot of things going the right way."
On no turnovers in the scrimmage
"It was huge. Turnovers are what lose ball games and the coaches have been preaching that since day one. Taking care of the ball is one of the biggest keys to winning a game."
On being named one of the final two quarterbacks
"It’s humbling of course. That’s just how football is, it’s a competitive kind of thing. You feel for everybody but it kind of pushes you to the next level. You have to take everything up a step. Tanner and I are going to push each other to do the best we can and I know someone else that’s not in the running is going to push themselves to try and get there."
On internal quarterback competition
"You see all of the quarterbacks pushing each other every day. I think the competition is there. If someone just had it easy and he knew was the guy he wouldn’t be pushed every day so I think the competition definitely helps."