BYU COUGARS

How Will BYU QB Zach Wilson Respond To NIU Defense, Game Plan?

Oct 24, 2018, 7:32 PM | Updated: Oct 25, 2018, 10:20 am
Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Zach Wilson (11) celebrates the win with teammates and fans as BY...
Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Zach Wilson (11) celebrates the win with teammates and fans as BYU defeats Hawaii at LaVell Edwards Stadium 49-23 in Provo on Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)
(Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

PROVO, Utah – From my first game watching Zach Wilson play at Corner Canyon High School, I’ve been a fan of the BYU quarterback.

He could make most throws, including the deep ball and the deep out – and the touch pass and the “fireball’ when needed.

In high school he already had the size, strength and speed to run the spread offense. I watched as he stood in the pocket and flung the ball anywhere on the field, and witnessed his athletic ability to extend plays with his feet.

No Surprise Wilson Is Starting As A Freshman

Three years ago, I thought this kid had that something special where he makes it look easy, and was on the path to have a very successful college career.

When Zach signed with Brigham Young, like many who have followed his high school career, I expected him to play early. He was good enough to play right now.

That moment arrived when the Cougars hosted Hawaii, and Zach Wilson was everything we thought he would be.


“So far he has met every challenge.”


In his first college start, the true freshman threw 194 yards on 16 of 24 attempts, with 3 touchdown passes.

He made the throws downfield, extended plays with his feet to complete passes, and also used his athleticism to run for a 23-yard touchdown.

What Should BYU Fans Expect Going In Game 2?

Zach wasn’t perfect, but he was good enough to validate the hype that followed him from Draper to Provo. The performance gave frustrated BYU fans a sense of hope for a brighter future after last year’s 4-9 record, and 3-3 start this year.

That being said, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. As much promise as Zach Wilson has and has shown, lets approach this week against Northern Illinois with controlled optimism.

Maybe even temper our expectations, because Hawaii and NIU are not the same.

Four reasons to proceed with caution:

1. Hawaii had never seen a full game of film on Zach Wilson. The Rainbow Warriors didn’t know his tendencies and weren’t able to game plan for his abilities. Northern Illinois has had a full game of film, and two weeks to prepare for Wilson in just his second start.

2. Hawaii’s defense has allowed 18 touchdown passes so far this season. Northern Illinois has only allowed 7 touchdown tosses.

3. Hawaii has allowed 426 yards total offense per game. Northern Illinois allows 351 yards a game – that’s 78 yards less.

4. Hawaii is allowing nearly 33 points per game, while Northern Illinois gives up 10 less points, at 23 per game.

Northern Illinois will be a much more difficult challenge for Zach Wilson and the BYU offense, but I’m still cautiously optimistic about Zach Wilson. I expect him to be good, but I also expect him to be put in a few new positions as a college quarterback.

After those games at Corner Canyon High School, I’m anxious to see how he responds. As a fan of Zach Wilson, I am eager to see how he handles a defense that has set up a game plan just for him. I am optimistic, but realistic and cautious.

So far he has met every challenge.

BYU hosts Northern Illinois Saturday at LaVell Edwards Field at 1:30 p.m. The game will be broadcast on ESPNU.

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How Will BYU QB Zach Wilson Respond To NIU Defense, Game Plan?