Even though the BYU Cougars have put the Toledo game behind them, Jaren Hall hasn’t stopped thinking about the moment his name got called in the final moments of the game.
Zach Wilson left the contest with an injury to his right (throwing) hand, which led to surgery the following week and a 6-8 week recovery period. Hall came in and strung together a series of plays that crisply moved the Cougars 43 yards. He then threw to Talon Shumway in the end zone as time expired, but the pass was just long and fell incomplete.
“I think that was actually pretty huge,” Hall said of getting some game reps under his belt. “I think about it a lot — just the feelings of being in there finally. The confidence it gave me to know I can go on and compete at the college level. It was good to get in there with the guys and feel the speed of an actual game.”
Hall is set to lead BYU for the foreseeable future while Wilson recovers, and will get his first career start at South Florida Oct. 12. But with a different quarterback, will the offense look any different than it did under Wilson?
Starting running back Emmanuel Esukpa said it simply: “no.”
BYU AT SOUTH FLORIDA
When • Saturday, 1:30 p.m. MDT
TV • CBS Sports Network
BYU coach Kalani Sitake believes both Wilson and Hall have similar approaches to the game. They study the game intently, are good friends, spend a lot of time together, and Wilson is excited for the opportunity Hall has in front of him, Sitake said.
“They’re really competitive, and that’s one thing that’s very similar, but when it comes to style of play I think both of them can run, both of them can throw,” Sitake said. “That’s why we recruited both of them to come here and compete. I’m not trying to give out any scheme or anything like that, but I think they’re very similar. They can play similar styles of football. The only difference is Jaren plays baseball on his off time a little bit.”
As a running back, Esukpa said he doesn’t have different chemistry between Wilson or Hall — there’s no real change for him. It’s all become muscle memory. They still make the same movements, do the same footwork and work on the same assignments.
But there might be one difference between the two quarterbacks: speed.
Wilson has come to be known as a quarterback that doesn’t shy from the run-pass option and who is able to take off with the ball when forced into a scramble. In the season opener, Wilson had 43 rushing yards on eight carries.
However, Hall is even faster. Defensive lineman Khyiris Tonga said Hall’s speed makes him harder to defend.
“He's quicker than Zach and Zach's fast,” Tonga said. “It's going to be fun watching him. We went up against him a lot during practice and during spring when Zach was out and we're excited for him to play and execute plays.”
Since taking over the QB1 position, Esukpa said he hasn't noticed a change in Hall's leadership amongst the team.
But that's because Hall has always served as a leader on the team, even as a freshman.
“Jaren's always been a confident guy in whatever he does, whether just walking around the locker room or walking up to make reps, make calls and adjustments and stuff,” Esukpa said. “I've seen him as the same guy because he's always been ready to do whatever he needs to do to help the team win. That's just him.”
Part of what has helped the team get situated with a new starting quarterback, besides having an extra week to prepare for USF, was having Hall fill in for Wilson in the spring.
Wilson was out in the spring after having shoulder surgery. Hall stepped up and found himself getting more reps.
“Getting increased reps in spring versus fall last year was huge,” Hall said. “Just catching up to the speed of the game, it’s a lot faster so I felt like I got a little more comfortable with the offense and just football in general at the college level. So, I think it was huge for now.”