Zach Wilson Struggles In First Game After Shoulder Surgery
PROVO, Utah – Thursday night was not Zach Wilson’s night as the BYU quarterback suffered the worst performance of his young career against rival Utah.
Wilson and the Cougars had the Utes as their number one focus since falling in last year’s rivalry 35-27 after squandering a 20-point third-quarter lead in the 2019 match-up. The fourteenth ranked team in the country proved to be no match for BYU.
Wilson’s stats for the 2019 rivalry weren’t anything to write home about as he went 21/33 for 208 yards. He averaged 6.3 yards per completion but threw two interceptions and zero touchdowns.
The Cougars gifted the Utes 20 points off turnovers helping their rivals on their ninth consecutive rivalry victory 30-12.
— KSL Sports (@kslsports) August 30, 2019
The first game for Wilson since shoulder surgery
Thursday night’s loss to the Utes was Wilson’s first game since having shoulder surgery in January 2019. He was perfect in BYU’s bowl game last December when he went 18/18 on his throws, leading the Cougars to a victory.
A few weeks later he underwent a procedure to repair the labrum in his throwing shoulder.
The health status of Wilson surrounded the BYU football program all offseason.
Wilson did not participate in spring football as he rehabbed. When fall camp arrived in August 2019, Wilson was able to join his teammates but was on a pitch count to limit his throws as he continued to recover.
In the weeks leading us to Thursday’s game, the message from both Wilson and BYU was that the QB would be 100% for the first game.
Pick 6 Times 2
The biggest black-eyes on Wilson’s stat line were the two interceptions, both of which he threw in critical situations.
Wilson first inception came early in the game with the game tied 3-3. Former Cougar and current Utes LB Francis Bernard jumped a Wilson pass and took it to the endzone for a score with 10:17 in the second quarter to give Utah a 9-3 lead. The Utes wouldn’t look back.
Francis Bernard in the right place at the right time. Pressure from Bradlee Anae leads to the pick 6. Bernard has now scored touchdowns for both BYU and Utah in his college football career. #BYUvsUtah #Utes @KSL5TV @kslsports https://t.co/mswkFuB8kZ pic.twitter.com/HDsXdDQIe5
— Jeremiah Jensen (@JJSportsBeat) August 30, 2019
The sophomore QB threw his second pick-six of the game with just over 12 minutes left in the fourth quarter when his second cousin Utah DB Julian Blackmon took the ball 39 yards for six points to break open the game for the Utes 30-6.
Same Old Story
Turnovers more often than not as momentum-changing plays in college football and the BYU/Utah rivalry is no exception.
During the Cougars 9-game losing streak to the University of Utah, turnovers have been common storyline to the Utah victories.
The Utes have recorded nine pick-six interceptions against BYU since the Cougars last victory a decade ago. The Cougars haven’t taken a Utah interception for a touchdown in more than 30 years.
Utah now has had nine pick 6's since 2010 against #BYU.
— Mitch Harper (@Mitch_Harper) August 30, 2019
Wilson has thrown five interceptions in his young career of 10 games played. Three of those interceptions have been returned for touchdowns. All three have come against the Utah Utes.
Wilson moved to 0-2 in his first couple performances against the team he grew up cheering for.
He will have a chance to rebound against another tough opponent when the Cougars head to Tennessee next week to face the Volunteers on Saturday, September 7 at 5 p.m. (MDT).
BYU Cougars Scoreboard
BYU Cougars Team Leaders
BYU Cougars Standings