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Zach Wilson - BYU vs. Troy
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Zach Wilson’s Leadership Starting To Show As No. 18 BYU Steamrolls Through Troy

PROVO, Utah – Nineteen days had passed since BYU last played a football game. The concerns of rust, injuries, dipping into the depths of the personnel were no concern for the No. 18 ranked Cougars who rolled through a Troy team that had no answer for anything BYU threw its way.

BYU crushed Troy on Saturday night in front of an empty LaVell Edwards Stadium by a score of 48-7.

The win gives BYU a 2-0 start to the 2020 season. It’s the first time BYU is undefeated through the first two games in Kalani Sitake’s tenure as head coach.

“Thankful we got to play the game and got the win. Really pleased with the way the guys played in all three phases. Obviously, there are some things we can still improve on for next week,” said BYU coach Kalani Sitake.

How can a team improve after opening its first two weeks outscoring its opponents 103-10? BYU looked as close to a perfect team against Troy, but Sitake is right. A muffed punt in the first quarter from Dax Milne wasn’t a great way to open the game. The good thing for Sitake is that BYU’s defense held strong and stopped the Trojans on a 4th & 1 to give BYU’s offense the ball. From there, quarterback Zach Wilson and the BYU offense went to work to put up 664 yards of offense.

Zach Wilson becoming a leader of the BYU football team

Wilson tossed for a career-high 392 yards and two touchdowns with zero interceptions. He only had passes that weren’t complete. The junior quarterback was calm and in control of the Cougar attack. It’s been something that BYU coaches have seen coming for a while from all the hard work Wilson has put into his craft.

“I think Zach’s leadership is starting to show … he had a great offseason. Before, he had to kind of nurse some injuries and get back from it, right? This year is the first time he had a great offseason, being able just to perfect his craft,” Sitake said.

“He’s throwing the ball really well, and he sees things well. There’s still a lot of room for improvement, and I know that Zach will think that this wasn’t good enough. I know there are some plays that he wishes he could have back, and I like the way’s working [right now]. I like the way he’s leading this team. He’s played a lot of games for us and a lot of minutes, and the team looks to him as a leader. ”

Targets in the passing game for Wilson to target

Wilson has a lot of experienced players to target in this BYU offense that is suddenly clicking on all cylinders. The likes of which Cougar fans haven’t seen since BYU became an FBS Independent team ten years ago. Milne, who bounced back from his muffed punt, and Gunner Romney went off for 140 and 138 yards, respectively, the first time a Kalani Sitake-coached BYU team produced two 100-yard receivers in one game.

Along with Milne and Romney were running backs Lopini Katoa and Tyler Allgeier. They were safety valves for Wilson in BYU’s pass attack that’s now averaging over 300 yards per game through the first two weeks of the season.

“I’d say we’re very versatile. We’ve got great running backs –dudes making big-time plays, making guys miss– and then at the same time I can throw a swing route to a back. I can throw an arrow to a wide receiver, and those guys are going to make guys miss, and they’re going to make big-time plays down the field. I think we have that playmaking ability where guys aren’t letting the first one take them down.”

Don’t forget about Khyiris Tonga and the BYU defense

The BYU offense is pulling down most of the headlines early in the 2020 season, but the Cougar defense had another dominant performance. Through two weeks, BYU has allowed only 10 points and has recorded nine sacks, music to the ears of Cougar fans everywhere.

Nose guard Khyiris Tonga had a career-best two sacks on the night. He and fellow senior Zac Dawe were consistently providing that three-man rush that allows for dropping back eight personnel to work masterfully against an Air Raid attack.

“I think just trust in our play,” Tonga said on why the defense is getting to the quarterback more in 2020. “We’re just playing ball and trusting in our technique and everything we’ve practiced, and it’s just going out and executing what we’ve been doing in camp.”

Techniques, execution, leadership, whatever it is specifically, BYU is rolling right now, and it sets the table for them to continue to stay in the national conversation for the rest of this season.

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

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