Provo • Will BYU change its starting quarterback after a pair of lackluster offensive performances in losses to Washington and Utah State?
Head coach Kalani Sitake didn’t answer that question directly Monday at his weekly news conference, but he did make one thing clear. He will be the person who makes the final decision.
“Everything is my call, so yeah,” he said. “It will be all of our call [to discuss]. But it will come down to me.”
Before fielding the inevitable starting quarterback question after Zach Wilson relieved Tanner Mangum late in the 45-20 loss to the Aggies and marched the team down the field for a touchdown, Sitake said he was “open to anything” that could make the Cougars (3-3) play better as they prepare to host Hawaii (6-1) on Saturday at LaVell Edwards Stadium (8:15 p.m., ESPN2).
“That’s the game of football,” he said. “You just can’t keep doing the same thing and expect different results.”
Sitake said every personnel group will be evaluated this week, and “everyone will compete [in practice] and we will see who plays on Saturday at every position.”
When he was asked if he is leaning any particular way at the quarterback position, he said, “I am leaning for whatever can get us the best opportunity to win. That’s where I am leaning.”
Mangum has started in all six games, and delivered wins against Arizona, Wisconsin and McNeese. However, he made two costly turnovers against USU, including an ill-advised fourth-down pass that was intercepted and returned for a touchdown.
Wilson’s touchdown drive included a 26-yard run, the Cougars’ longest of the game.
“Yeah, [Wilson] came in and had a good drive and became the leading rusher on that drive with one run, so I think he did pretty good,” Sitake said.
Receiver Dylan Collie, who will face his former team this week, said the players will trust whatever decision the coaches make.
“No matter who is starting at receiver, offensive line, quarterback, running back, whatever, all that matters is what we are doing for one another,” Collie said. “Luckily this is a really good football program we have here. That means there is a lot of talent in a lot of places. And so however they are used and however they are trusted, we have 30 or 40 guys on offense and I trust every single one of them to go out there and play the best that they can every week.”
Offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes said on his “Coordinators’ Corner” program that he asked Sitake late in Friday’s game for the go-ahead to put Wilson in, and Sitake gave it to him.
“Zach is a talented player and the kind of guy who has playmaking ability,” Grimes said. “We have a lot of confidence in Zach and will continue to look forward to his growth and giving him new opportunities.”
Grimes said coaches “probably” would not announce a change publicly, if there is one. He acknowledged that Wilson’s performance — which came mostly against USU’s first-teamers — earned the freshman more playing time.
“It puts him in position to compete for that, for sure,” Grimes said. “We are going to play the guys we feel like give us the best opportunity to win. … It is all on the table at this point.”
Along with spotty quarterback play and the inability to run the football the past two games, slow starts have plagued the Cougars throughout the season. They have been outscored 38-7 in the first quarter.
“Yeah, we gotta start faster, and that’s on me,” Sitake said. “I gotta figure out what we are doing schedule-wise [on game days], and what we can do differently so we can start faster as a team. That first quarter has got to be really important to us to get the momentum started.”
The new depth chart BYU released Monday still shows Mangum as the starting quarterback and Wilson as his backup. The only offensive change has freshman Gunner Romney now listed as a starter at one of the three starting receiver positions.
“He is a guy that is a big playmaker, and we have a lot of them," Sitake said of Romney. "We just have to find a way to utilize them in the game plan.”
Regardless of who is taking the snaps.
Hawaii at BYU, 8:15 p.m.