Provo • After watching both starting quarterback candidates perform reasonably well in the final practice of preseason camp Wednesday, BYU football coach Kalani Sitake said he’s almost ready to name a starter for the Sept. 1 opener at Arizona.
“We’re really close, so stay tuned,” Sitake said. “it is about that time where we are getting close to making a decision and moving on with preparations for the first game and getting the right guys the reps. I think we should get that all nailed down in the next little bit.”
The Cougars will conduct their third and final scrimmage of camp Thursday at LaVell Edwards Stadium, then break camp and begin preparations in earnest for the Wildcats. Sitake said the scrimmage won’t be a make-or-break contest for senior Tanner Mangum or freshman Zach Wilson, but could be looked at to “confirm” what coaches already think.
“Being that close to a game I don’t think we will do as much live work as in other scrimmages,” Sitake said.
Mangum played a bit better than Wilson in the media viewing portion of Wednesday’s practice, but both threw touchdown passes as the Cougars primarily worked on their two-minute offense. Wilson threw a touchdown pass to fellow freshman Dax Milne, a walk-on from Bingham High, and Mangum connected with junior Akile Davis, who has been a pleasant surprise in camp.
Quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator Aaron Roderick said the offense is “not quite game-ready yet” but is on schedule.
“I think we have a good team,” Roderick said.
As for a timeline to name a starter, the former University of Utah assistant coach echoed Sitake’s comments.
“We are really close. Really close. I mean I am just about there,” Roderick said. “Coach [Jeff] Grimes and Kalani and I will decide soon. We are close. I know you guys are tired of waiting and stuff, but I think we have a good plan and are just about there.”
Roderick said the three other QBs in the derby, sophomore Joe Critchlow and freshmen Jaren Hall and Baylor Romney, are also capable of leading the offense some day.
“The gap from our top guy to a guy maybe down the list, the margin is pretty narrow,” Roderick said. “These guys are all good players and it is fun to coach them.”
Roderick said Thursday’s scrimmage “is a factor” in the race, but won’t be the overriding one.
“I mean, the whole body of work leading up to this has played into it as well,” he said. “Tomorrow is just another day of information that we gather to decide what we are going to do.”
Roderick has hinted that coaches may decide to wait until kickoff on Sept. 1 to make it official, but many camp observers believe the announcement will be made Monday during Sitake’s first game-week news conference.