Eye On The Y: Coaches putting a positive spin on Zach Wilson’s absence from spring practice after the QB’s shoulder surgery

Passing game coordinator Aaron Roderick says Wilson’s absence will give backups plenty of chances to improve

(Jeremy Harmon | The Salt Lake Tribune) Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Zach Wilson (11) takes the field at the start of their game against Western Michigan Broncos in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in Boise, Idaho, on Friday, Dec. 21, 2018.

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Provo • Aaron Roderick has a message for Cougar fans who might be distressed over the fact that rising sophomore quarterback Zach Wilson won’t throw in spring camp next month after having offseason surgery on his throwing shoulder.

Calm down.

“It is going to cost him a little bit of work this spring, but it gives [other quarterbacks] a great chance to really improve as well,” the BYU passing game coodinator and QB coach said Wednesday after the team unveiled its 2019 football recruiting class. “I am not even worried about it.”

As was first reported by The Salt Lake Tribune on Monday, Wilson sustained the injury years ago while playing for Draper’s Corner Canyon High School and not this past season, when he started in seven games and 1,578 yards and 12 touchdowns.

“He knew about the injury, just played through it. Just dealt with it,” Roderick said. “He just got in the habit of playing with it. After the season, the decision was made with a bunch of people involved that he might as well fix it right now. The best thing for him in the long term, for his future, is to fix it right now. So, he should be just fine.”

Roderick said sophomores Jaren Hall and Baylor Romney and junior Joe Critchlow will divide up the reps in spring camp. Another quarterback in the program, 6-foot-6 sophomore Stacy Conner, isn’t quite ready to compete for playing time.

Spring camp will be all about refining the offense installed last fall.

“For Zach’s development, I wish he could get reps, but I think for this offense it is not going to hurt us in the long term,” Roderick said. “I have confidence in Joe and Jaren and Baylor and think we can still practice every day at a high level. And we have enough returning players that we should be able to perform.

“The plan is to pick up right where we left off,” he continued. “We did a lot of different things last year. We would like to do less things this year and just do them better. So that’s the plan for spring ball.”

Roderick confirmed that Hall, a multi-sport star at Maple Mountain High, is indeed practicing with the BYU baseball team, which begins its season next week. Roderick said he is all for Hall trying his hand on the baseball diamond and noted that it won’t conflict with football at all.

“I love it. I encourage it. I think baseball is great, especially for quarterbacks,” Roderick said. “In baseball, especially for quarterbacks, when you are pitching and batting there is nowhere to hide. It is a great test of mental toughness and competitiveness, and I think it transfers over to playing quarterback. I love the fact that he is doing it and it is not going to interfere with football.”

Stories from the past week

• BYU coaches spoke positively about their 18-member recruiting class — who doesn’t? — but that doesn’t hide the fact that they failed to land a bonafide running back to the mix. TRIB

• Every year, it seems, BYU basketball coach Dave Rose adds a glue guy, a guy who doesn’t worry about individual stats and just wants to see the team win. This year, that guy is McKay Cannon. TRIB

• Gavin Baxter became a marked man after his big game against LMU last Saturday. Here’s how the freshman and his coaches are going to handle his success moving forward. TRIB

• With the help of BYU director of player personnel Alema Fitisemanu, we laid out the Cougars’ signing day plans. TRIB

• BYU’s Caitlyn Alldredge never lost the basketball bug after playing on BYU’s softball team the past four years, so she tried out on the hardwoods and made this year’s hoops team. Now she’s arguably the best defender on the team. TRIB

• Former BYU linebacker Kyle Van Noy is having an outstanding NFL career, and has already played in three Super Bowls. The Tribune’s Gordon Monson caught up with one of the best defenders in school history. TRIB

• BYU’s men’s basketball team salvaged a home split lsat weekend after falling badly Thursday to No. 4 Gonzaga. What that means moving forward. TRIB

• Gavin Baxter wasn’t the only Cougar to break out against LMU. Junior guard Nick Emery also posted his best game of the season. TRIB

• What went wrong in the 30-point loss to Gonzaga? Well, just about everything. And the Zags are really, really good. TRIB

• BYU needed to play perfectly to stay with the No. 4 Zags, even at home. Well, the Cougars obviously didn’t. TRIB

Stories from elsewhere

• The aforementioned Kyle Van Noy received a lot of attention before and after the Super Bowl. Here’s a walk down memory lane with Dennis Dodd of CBSsports.com. TRIB

• Here’s a good explainer story from the Deseret News on why the term “preferred walk-on” has risen to prominence at BYU. DNEWS

• And here’s a look at BYU’s signing day efforts from another perspective. HERALD


How will the BYU men’s basketball team finish the season? Junior wing Zac Seljaas believes the Cougars’ best days are ahead of them in 2018-19:

"We had kind of a downer game against Gonzaga,” Seljaas said. “That second half of the LMU game got us rolling, and we are going to roll to finish out the rest of our season. We have that fire to get us going. We knew it was in us. We just have to keep finding that every game. Since we found that, we were able to push it throughout that whole second half. It will help us go throughout the rest of the season with that.”

Around campus

BYU’s men’s volleyball team started the season with four straight wins and looked like it was going to be a contender for the national championship. But things have changed. The Cougars were swept last weekend at Santa Barbara — twice — and then were swept again Wednesday night in their MPSF opener at Pepperdine.

The Cougars don’t pass and serve well, a recipe for a subpar season. They really miss All-American setter Leo Durkin.

• BYU’s women’s softball team starts the season in Mexico this weekend at the Puerto Vallarta College Classic. The Cougars face No. 9 South Carolina and No. 18 Baylor in a doubleheader on Thursday and will face Liberty on Friday and North Carolina on Saturday. The Cougars will count on five seniors this season — Libby Sugg, Allie Hancock, Olivia Sanchez, Ashley Godfrey and Lexi Tarrow. Sugg and Hancock are team captains.

• Junior Shannon Evans is the Mountain Rim Gymnastics Conference Gymnast of the Week after scoring a career-best 39.475 in the all-around against Cal and Arizona State last weekend.

• BYU’s baseball team, which opens the season next week, is picked to finish sixth in the WCC race, but did get one first-place vote. The Cougars’ Brock Hale made the preseason All-WCC team.