Provo • Attorneys on both sides have made their final arguments, and the decision has been turned over to the judge and jury.
A self-described aficionado of late-night crime documentaries, senior Tanner Mangum described BYU’s quarterback competition using legal metaphors as preseason camp closed Thursday afternoon with the final scrimmage at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
“It’s the coaches’ decision now,” said the starter in eight games last year. “They are the judges in this courtroom. We are just called to the stand and we are trying to do our best to make a good argument. Let the facts fall were they may and the jury can [render] its verdict or the judge will decide.”
After the scrimmage, which was closed to the media, offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes said no decision has been made and no candidate is in the lead. That came after head coach Kalani Sitake and quarterbacks coach Aaron Roderick said Wednesday that coaches are “really close” to naming a starter.
The cat-and-mouse games continues.
“Overall, I think it was a smooth day [for the quarterbacks],” Grimes said. “The biggest challenge for our entire team today was we wanted to come as close as possible to a game day. … We tried to simulate as many [game situations] as we could today. Backed up, red zone, goal line, short yardage, four-minute, two-minute [drills]. I thought overall both of them handled the situations well.”
BYU’S STARTING QUARTERBACK — THE FINAL ARGUMENTS
• Senior Tanner Mangum
Brings game experience, a reshaped body after losing 15-20 pounds in the offseason, and the maturity to handle early setbacks. Plus, he’s 100 percent healthy after sustaining an Achilles injury last season and impressed teammates and coaches with his rehabilitation efforts.
• Freshman Zach Wilson
Brings youthful swagger, possesses a higher ceiling, and has been more willing to take risks in camp. Plus, he’s won over a significant number of his teammates with his dogged work ethic and enthusiasm for the game. He’s mature beyond his years and has been preparing for this moment since he was a toddler.
If the coaches do name a starter — and the possibility still exists that they may not — it will likely come Monday in Sitake’s noon news conference that traditionally kicks off game week.
“I was really pleased with the work today,” Sitake said. “We pulled back on the live stuff, because I think we’ve seen enough of it. But it was competitive and we put ourselves in a lot different situations that we haven’t had enough work at in camp, and so it was good. It was a good run for our team.”
Both Grimes and defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki said there was too much situational stuff to declare a winner — offense or defense — but Tuiaki mentioned the defense forced a couple turnovers and Grimes lamented just one series when the offense had some formation issues and killed its own momentum.
Grimes said the offense won’t change to fit whichever quarterback emerges as the starter.
“I think they both have very similar skillsets,” he said. “I don’t see that making very much of a difference, if any.”
Wilson, still a teenager, said he can deliver a victory Sept. 1 against Arizona if he gets the starting nod.
“Yeah, I do,” he said. “I think any quarterback in the situation can as well. I think we are all well-prepared. I think any of us in the right situation will be able to make plays on this team.”
Wilson said he doesn’t feel like a freshman because he participated in spring camp and has earned the respect of his older teammates.
“As a freshman, it just kind OF gives you that swagger to go out and attempt things and try things,” he said. “I just look at it like it is just a football game. Anyone can go out there and make plays no matter how old they are.”
Mangum’s final argument, as it were, was similar when asked the same question.
“Oh yeah, we both can [deliver],” he said. “Absolutely. We have both played well this camp. We have both shown that we can run the offense and lead the team and make plays. Regardless of who is in, we are confident that we can go out there and execute and get the job done. … We are both confident players. Regardless of who is in, we are looking forward to the challenge.”