Provo • BYU coach Kalani Sitake didn’t provide an update on injured quarterbacks Zach Wilson and Jaren Hall, other than both are still considered day to day. That’s why Wilson, Hall and Baylor Romney were all listed as possible starters on the Cougars’ depth chart against Liberty on Saturday.
Last week, Wilson found himself slowly getting back into it, throwing a few passes during Wednesday’s practice — the first real action he’s had with the team since fracturing his right (throwing) thumb at Toledo. However, Sitake said the chances of the team’s season starter coming back to take on the Flames is somewhere “between questionable and doubtful."
And Hall suffered his second concussion in as many starts. The redshirt freshman was injured during the fourth quarter at South Florida and during the second quarter at Utah State.
“I just want him to be healthy,” Sitake said. “His life is all that matters right now.”
Romney, the team's third-string QB, has stayed healthy through his full-game winning performance against Boise State and second half stint against the Aggies.
It may just all be a ploy to keep Liberty on its toes, like the Cougars did with Utah State last week.
The coaching staff refused to announce who would get the start between Hall or Romney, and didn't make any of the quarterbacks available for post-practice interviews.
The Flames will have to study up on all three possible starters before making their trip to Provo.
Even if the starter won’t be announced publicly until Saturday, the Cougars plan to be ready. And quarterbacks coach Aaron Roderick has been key in getting the group prepared.
Roderick and Sitake’s playing days at BYU overlapped a bit and were later reunited on the coaching staff at the University of Utah. Sitake worked with the Utes’ defense from 2005 through 2014 and Roderick worked on the offense 2005 to 2016.
“I’ve seen him, the relationship that he has with his group — his position group, and I’ve seen how they’ve all worked together,” Sitake said. “That’s what you’re seeing right now. Collectively, they’re doing a great job. Whether our guys can play or not, they’re involved in the game plan and involved with their feet back. It’s been a really cool thing to see. ARod is doing what I always knew he could do.”
Gunner Romney hadn't even realized his older brother went in for Hall at the end of the first half until he saw Baylor Romney take a knee to go into halftime.
Once the Cougars were back in the locker room, coaches informed the players that Hall would be out for the remainder of the game and Baylor Romney would be BYU’s quarterback.
“Baylor played great last week, so everybody was ready for it,” Gunner Romney said. “They knew he could step up and do a good job.”
Hall’s concussion was a result of a no-call helmet-to-helmet tackle as the redshirt freshman crossed the goal line on a seven-yard scoring rush. Considering it is Hall’s second concussion in three weeks, it doesn’t seem likely that he would recover in time to start Saturday.
While Wilson’s recovery has moved along faster than expected, it’s only been five weeks since being injured and undergoing surgery. It would seem too early to try to get Wilson back in.
All signs point to Baylor Romney being the safe choice as starter.
Baylor Romney started his career at El Paso’s Franklin High School as the third-string QB on the freshman squad. As a senior, he passed for nearly 3,000 yards, threw 29 touchdowns while only throwing three interceptions and completed more than 70% of his passes.
Although a late bloomer, Baylor Romney's hard work eventually paid off in high school.
“And I think it’s showed here, too — he started third-string this season,” Gunner Romney said. “His entire life, he’s just been working. He’s been consistent in everything he does. Obviously, that type of work ethic is not going to go unnoticed and eventually he’s going to rise to the top. I think it’s really shown with Baylor and all the hard work is paying off.”