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Anonymous Coaches: Zach Wilson ‘Might Not’ Be BYU’s Best Option At QB

PROVO, Utah – It’s later than usual because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but we’ve reached the portion of the college football off-season where preseason magazines hit newsstands.

I recently picked up the Athlon Sports preview and the most intriguing part of the publication is anonymous coaches giving a scouting report on all 130 FBS teams.

For the BYU preview, anonymous “opposing coaches” sized up the Cougars in Athlon’s 2020 magazine, and it started with a bold take on BYU’s quarterback room and junior Zach Wilson.

Their returning starting quarterback (Zach Wilson) might not be their best option. I think there’s going to be a full-on race through camp, and they might make a change this season. With his injuries, he kind of plateaued.

Last season, Wilson started in nine games posting a 4-5 record. Through 16 career starts, Wilson is 8-8 overall. As noted by the anonymous coach injuries played a big role in Wilson’s sophomore campaign.

In 2019, Wilson was recovering from an off-season shoulder surgery and then an in-season thumb injury which was suffered due to Wilson attempting to tackle a defender after throwing an interception against Toledo.

Wilson saw dips in completion percentage, TD-INT ratio, quarterback efficiency, rushing yards, and the number of fumbles put on the turf. How much of those numbers are a by-product of the injuries?

Jaren Hall and Baylor Romney filled in during Wilson’s four-game absence and the Cougars were 3-1 in that stretch highlighted by wins over undefeated Boise State and rival Utah State.

“When a guy is out of the lineup for whatever reason, it gives opportunities for other guys,” said BYU offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes in March to KSL Sports. “I have not been a lot of places where we had two really good quarterbacks and I haven’t been any places where we felt really good about three of them. But when those opportunities were provided [last season], Jaren and Baylor stepped in and competed and did well and proved that we can win games with those guys. I think when you have that, you’ve got three guys who you can win with and all three of them deserve an opportunity.”

Wilson when asked about a potential quarterback competition during spring ball said, “every day is a competition … I’m going to come out there every single day like I’m the guy and talk to my guys like I’m the guy and just bring that leadership presence. But it’s ultimately up to the coaches.”

BYU legend and former NFL QB John Beck has been working with Wilson in Huntington Beach, California at 3DQB and the former BYU great has been “raving” about Wilson this off-season.

Like Wilson, Beck had experience starting as a freshman and went through growing pains as a sophomore quarterback before ultimately capping off his BYU career with an 11-2 senior season in 2006.

In the six spring practices BYU conducted before COVID-19 shut down all athletic activity, Wilson’s arm appeared to have the strength that he showcased during his perfect 18-for-18 performance as a freshman in the Potato Bowl win over Western Michigan.

Along with the renewed strength in his arm, Wilson is also expected to have a bigger frame this fall. The junior quarterback-to be wants to play around 210 or 215 pounds this season.

With a bigger frame and a livelier arm, Wilson seems poised for a big bounceback in 2020. But he’ll have to care of business first in the “full-on race” when fall camp starts in early August.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12-3 pm) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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