As BYU’s offensive coordinator, Jeff Grimes oversees the quarterbacks, linemen, tight ends, wide receivers and running backs. With injuries in just about every group, Grimes has had to adjust the offense for every game.
The weekly disruptions, however, aren't really out of the usual duties for Grimes. It's part of his daily routine, he said.
“Part of our day-to-day work is to get all of our players ready, and sometimes it's a little bit easier than other times,” Grimes said. “Really, it's not hard on a daily basis. It's really just a challenge in practice to try to make sure you get the right guys the right number of reps in practice.”
The offensive injuries have been piling up since the Cougars played host to Washington and starting running back Ty’Son Williams suffered a season-ending ACL tear. Emmanuel Esukpa, who took over the starting running back role, has since been in and out with undisclosed injuries.
LIBERTY AT BYU
When • Saturday, 5:30 p.m.
TV • ESPNU
When visiting Toledo, quarterback Zach Wilson fractured his right (throwing) thumb. Jaren Hall stepped up to finish the game and then got his first career start at South Florida, but suffered a concussion in the fourth quarter. Third-string quarterback Baylor Romney led BYU’s final two drives.
Romney recorded his first career start against Boise State, and played the full game. At Logan last week, Hall was back to get the start against Utah State, but had to leave at the end of the first half with another concussion. Romney took over, but limped off the field at the end of the game with a noticeable foot injury.
There have also been injuries along the offensive line, where Thomas Shoaf, Tristen Hoge, Kieffer Longson and Keanu Saleapaga have all been in and out of the lineup.
“We’ve certainly had more injuries, but in a way, here of late, I think it’s been a real positive — more guys have had opportunities to prove themselves,” Grimes said.
Despite that constantly changing cast, the Cougars finally had the breakout they’ve been looking for since preseason camp last Saturday. BYU finished with 639 total offense yards and season-high drives of 97 and 93 yards on their way to a resounding 42-14 victory over Utah State in Logan.
Wide receiver Micah Simon said that’s always been the goal — to put up a lot of points, sustain drives and create explosive plays. Even more impressively, the Cougars did it with two quarterbacks.
“As a receiver, you run the route — you run whatever play is called and if the ball’s in the air coming to you, you’ve got to make the catch,” Simon said. “That’s what we expect from our group, it doesn’t matter who’s back there. And we’ve shown we have the ability to do that.”
While Grimes has already locked in most of the starters for this weekend, he will continue to make adjustments up until game day. Zach Wilson, Hall and Romney are all listed as possible starters at quarterback.
Come Saturday, the team that will take on Liberty will look very different from the squad that opened up the season against Utah, but BYU coach Kalani Sitake, like his offensive coordinator, believes the long list of players who have had to step in and perform has been a net positive — especially looking forward to the season’s final stretch.
“Even when things are looking really rough, these guys had each other,” Sitake said. “That’s the wonderful thing about adversity sometimes — you’re allowed to know who actually has your back and who’s there for you. And these guys are enjoying each other’s company and having a lot of fun and they’re working really hard and looking forward to seeing how hard they work this week to get this win for this weekend.”