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Countdown to Kickoff (37): Previewing BYU football's quarterback group

Zach Wilson is the starter, but how will his shoulder hold up? And how much will we see Jaren Hall?

NCAA Football: Utah State at Brigham Young Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

The Starter

Everyone knows Zach Wilson is the starting quarterback for BYU football, and deservedly so. Wilson started 7 games last season and threw for 1,578 yards with a 66% completion percentage, 12 TD passes, 3 interceptions, 221 rushing yards (370 if you exclude sacks, like the NFL does) and 2 rushing TDs. The bowl game performance versus Western Michigan where he went 18/18 cemented himself as the unquestioned guy at QB.

Questions still surround Wilson, however. The biggest question surrounding Zach is his right shoulder. He had offseason shoulder surgery that caused him to miss all of spring ball, miss valuable reps in the offense and build greater rapport with receivers. He has started ramping up his throwing the past few months, including training with Saints QB Drew Brees, but we won’t know for sure how his shoulder will hold up for an entire season when he’s throwing thousands of passes and taking hits during games. Many NFL QBs have had major shoulder surgery and recovered just fine — e.g., Drew Brees and Andrew Luck — but it’s still definitely something to keep an eye on.

BYU will go as far as Wilson takes them. If he can stay healthy and build off last season’s promise right from the get go, BYU could surpass expectations and win 9+ games. If he’s not healthy or hits the dreaded “sophomore slump,” BYU could be fighting for bowl eligibility late in the season.

Either way, the number one factor of BYU’s success will on the shoulders of QB1.

The Next Guy Up

Jaren Hall (RS FR) was the main beneficiary of Wilson’s absence during spring ball and took the opportunity to firmly establish himself as the number 2 QB. BYU hasn’t had a QB start every game in a season since Taysom Hill in 2013; even if Hall doesn’t start a game at QB, coaches will find a way to get him on the field. He is one of the best athletes on the team and should see time as a wildcat QB or at another position. QB coach Aaron Roderick said that Hall is “gonna play” when asked if he’ll see the field this season.

Others to Watch

Baylor Romney (RS FR)- The older brother of WR Gunner Romney, Baylor Romney redshirted last year after returning home from his mission. Baylor is another really good athlete and could play other positions outside of QB.

Joe Critchlow has the experience factor over Romney, but Romney’s athleticism could get him the nod as the 3rd string guy.

Joe Critchlow (RS SO)- After Wilson, Critchlow is the lone QB on the roster with starting experience. Critchlow started the final three games of the 2017 season, going 2-1. He’ll fight with Romney for the 3rd-string spot and brings valuable game experience down on the depth chart.