Could Transfer Portal Impact BYU Coaches’ Choice To Start Wilson?

Nov 15, 2019, 4:14 PM
Zach Wilson...
BYU Quarterback Zach Wilson - Fall Camp 2019 (Photo: BYU Photo)
(Photo: BYU Photo)

PROVO, Utah – The last time BYU quarterback Zach Wilson was on the football field was September 28 when the team lost to Toledo. He is now cleared to play after having recovered from surgery on his throwing hand but is there any concern that he lost his starting job?

“I don’t really think a starting quarterback should ever lose his job to injury,” said Wilson in an interview during the week leading up to the game.

KSL Unrivaled thinks the only reason this conversation is happening is because the Cougars have been playing well in his absence. The combination of Baylor Romney and Jaren Hall saw the Cougars go 3-1.

“What is hard about this is that Jaren Hall and Baylor Romney have played well,” KSL Sports’ Scott Mitchell said. “That is really the hard thing about this. It is against teams that BYU might have a hard time beating in Boise State and Utah State. They played remarkably well.”

Yes, they played well, but there is a reason why Wilson was named the starting quarterback partway through last season and was the clear No. 1 heading into this season.

Transfer Portal A Reason To Start Wilson?

Coaches now have to worry about players who might put their name in the transfer portal if they don’t get the playing time they feel is deserved. Sometimes the choice about who to start could creep into the mind of the coaches and could be a factor in certain players getting the nod.

However, coaches like to win and BYU has been winning with whoever has been under center the past month.

“Coaches will tell you all that they care about is wins, and whatever helps them win is what they will go with,” Mitchell said. “If a guy has the hot hand why in the world would that be taken away from that player, unless you play in college football where the transfer portal is an option.”

There are other examples of this at an even higher level. Alabama’s Nick Saban swapped quarterbacks two years ago in the biggest game of the year.

“Look at Tua [Tagovailoa] who took over for Jalen Hurts at halftime of the national championship game,” Mitchell said “Nothing is sacred and nothing safe. I don’t care who you are Zach Wilson, I know he thinks he shouldn’t lose his job. You may have played well before but we don’t know how you will play after being injured.”

So, this BYU coaching staff might have to adjust who it might start based out of fear of losing Wilson, or any other quarterback to the portal.

Fair or not, it is just the way college football is right now with this new option to transfer.

Mitchell goes on to give a lot of praise for Romney for how he has played after being thrust into action.

“Wilson may have played well before but you don’t we don’t know how you play after being injured,” Mitchell said. “I am telling you, Baylor Romney has done a better job of managing their offense than any quarterback all year.”

Offensive Changes Led To Better Play

The offense for BYU has changed quite a bit since the Boise State game when Aaron Roderick got more involved with the play calling and it started with opening up the offense to feature more trick plays.

KSL Sports’ Alex Kirry disagrees with Mitchell on quarterbacks because the offensive scheme adjustments are why Romney and Hall have led the Cougars to wins – not necessarily having new quarterbacks in the game. He wondered what the offense would look like with Wilson.

“You have not seen Zach Wilson manage this offense,” Kirry said. “It is way more favorable now for Zach Wilson and if he doesn’t perform now then you have a problem. This Aaron Roderick works perfectly for him. Aaron Roderick is in effect the offensive coordinator right now for BYU.”

One reason Wilson might not be handed the starting job comes from the last time we saw him play, and that was a loss against Toledo. However, he did beat a pair of Power 5 teams.

“We kind of forgot what his real skill set is. We saw him against Toledo not winning that football game,” Kirry said. “The reality is that is the last football game we saw him in was struggling against Toledo. We saw him beat USC and Tennessee and those were awesome wins and he is the better quarterback of all of those guys there. Start this week go out there and crush, then go from there.”

Tune into KSL UnRivaled every Monday through Friday, 7-9 p.m., or download the KSL NewsRadio app to subscribe to the podcast. 

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