Eye on the Y: Kalani Sitake loves him some quarterbacks, apparently

Cougars open spring practices with 10 QBs on the roster, but presumptive starter Zach Wilson is only one not practicing

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) BYU head coach Kalani Sitake argues a call during the first half of the NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018, at LaVell Edwards stadium in Provo, Utah.

Eye On The Y is The Salt Lake Tribune’s weekly newsletter on BYU athletics. Subscribe here.

Legend has it that a famous professional golfer — I think it was Lee Trevino — was once asked why he made an 11 on a particularly gnarly golf hole.

“Because I missed the putt for a 10,” he replied.

That quote came to mind Tuesday when BYU football coach Kalani Sitake was asked why the Cougars have 10 quarterbacks on their spring football roster.

“Because we couldn’t have 20,” Sitake deadpanned.

Ironically, nine of those quarterbacks are practicing this week, wearing the green jerseys that signal they are off limits to contact, while the QB who is expected to take the first snap when BYU hosts rival Utah on Aug. 29 can only watch.

Sophomore Zach Wilson had offseason shoulder surgery and won’t be cleared to throw until this summer. In the first two practices, redshirt freshmen Baylor Romney and Jaren Hall and redshirt sophomore Joe Critchlow did all the throwing in the media viewing portions of the practices.

Passing game coordinator Aaron Roderick said those three are in a “wide-open” competition to be Wilson’s backup.

And the other six guys?

“Quarterbacks are usually the best athletes on their high school teams, and yeah, we just don’t want to go without,” Sitake said, after his quip about needing 20. “I will probably always have a good number of them. They are smart guys who can play other positions. There are some guys who have already asked me if they can play other positions, because they want to get on the field, and there are only so many reps to go around.”

By the way, Critchlow confirmed after his Monday interview that he recently married the granddaughter of Sen. Mitt Romney.

Along with a backup QB, the search for a running back is also underway in Provo.

Was TJ robbed?

The West Coast Conference announced its 2018-19 season individual award winners and all-conference men’s and women’s basketball teams on Tuesday, and a little bit of outrage followed locally.

That’s because BYU junior TJ Haws failed to make the 10-member All-WCC First Team, as voted upon by the coaches, who aren’t allowed to pick players from their own teams. It was the first year since BYU joined the WCC that the Cougars haven’t placed two players on the first team (Yoeli Childs was BYU’s lone first-teamer).

Ben Criddle of ESPN 960 made the case that Haws was robbed, and should have made the team over LMU’s James Batemon, a senior who was held scoreless when the Lions lost to BYU in Provo.

Haws and the rising Cougars probably don’t care. Having defeated San Diego 87-73 last Saturday at the half-full Marriott Center, they are busy preparing for the West Coast Conference tournament this weekend in Las Vegas.

Also, BYU coach Dave Rose announced Wednesday this addition to the Cougars’ 2019-20 roster.

BYU’s women’s basketball team is the No. 2 seed in its WCC tournament, and probably has more on the line in terms of more postseason competition, because the Cougars are on the NCAA Tournament bubble, according to several bracketologists.

The Provo Daily Herald’s Darnell Dickson, one of the state’s most underrated sportswriters, in my opinion, offered this primer on the WCC tournament.

Also, here’s an interesting piece from Dick Harmon of the Deseret News on a former Idaho basketball state championship team, with plenty of Utah ties.


Here’s BYU offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes on the difference between spring practices this year and last year, when he and most of the offensive coaches were new:

“Well, I think the expectation is higher,” Grimes said. “The standard is higher, because last year, you are just starting from scratch and they didn’t know what the standard was. Our standard is higher. Our tolerance level as coaches is smaller, which might be the reason I lost my voice a little bit right now.

We are trying to not start at square one, but start right where we left off after the bowl game.”

Around campus

• Winners of six of its last seven games, BYU baseball will host Milwaukee for four games this weekend at Miller Park. The Cougars improved to 8-3 with a 5-1 victory over Utah Valley on Tuesday.

Senior righthander Jordan Wood (1-0, 2.60 ERA) will pitch in Thursday’s series opener against the Panthers (6-3).

• The BYU men’s tennis team earned the No. 22 spot in the latest ITA/Oracle Collegiate Tennis national rankings, the Cougars’ highest ranking in 34 years. Sean Hill is ranked No. 97 in the country in singles with an 11-1 record in 2019, and Hill and Jeffrey Hsu are ranked No. 37 in doubles, having gone 7-2 this year. BYU will face Boise State on Saturday.

• A squad of 10 BYU athletes will compete in the 2019 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships in Birmingham, Ala., this weekend. Connor Mantz, Clayton Young, Connor McMillan, Andrea Stapleton-Johnson, Whittni Orton, Erica Birk-Jarvis, Lauren Ellsworth-Barnes, Brenna Porter and either Anna Camp-Bennett or Kate Hunter will make the trip.

• BYU’s No. 16-ranked women’s gymnastics team will compete at No. 11 Boise State on Thursday night at Taco Bell Arena in Boise, Idaho. The Cougars had their highest road score of the season last week, posting a 196.500 to win a tri-meet against George Washington and Maryland in Washington, D.C.

• BYU golfer Peter Kuest continues to make his case as one of the top golfers in the country. Kuest has won four tournaments during the 2018-19 collegiate golf season and is coming off an impressive victory at the John A. Burns Invitational in Lihue, Hawaii. He birdied the final host to post a 54-hole total of 206 and edge Walker Lee of Texas A&M. Kuest is among 28 golfers on the Ben Hogan Award watch list.