Provo • Eight weeks after being sidelined, season-starting quarterback Zach Wilson could make his return to the field this Saturday against Idaho State. But since that time, so much has happened that it’s almost hard to remember just how the Cougars temporarily lost Wilson to begin with.
You have to go back to the Sept. 28 game at Toledo.
The game was tied 21-all when Chaz Ah You recovered a key fumble to give BYU possession on its own 20-yard line. Then Wilson threw an interception — the Cougars’ lone turnover of the game — that was returned by Khalil Robinson and placed the Rockets two yards away from the goal line.
It was during that play that Wilson was tackled and suffered a fractured thumb. But he hadn’t even noticed it at first.
It wasn't until he walked off the field that Wilson noticed he couldn't open up his hand and there was a piece of his thumb that stuck out a bit.
“When I first got injured, I was just wondering how I could get this thumb right to go back in the game on that drive,” Wilson said. “The last thing I wanted to do was come out of that situation.”
At the time, the Cougars continued their way into a three-game skid. The losses at Toledo and South Florida were especially disappointing.
But then the Cougars won two games they weren’t expected to win — against then-No. 14 Boise State, which hadn’t lost a game all season, and in-state rival Utah State.
Now, BYU is on a three-game winning streak. And while there may have been concern about the Cougars losing their starting quarterback, the team has proved it has the depth to recover.
Jaren Hall and Baylor Romney have teamed up since to help the Cougars recover their season.
While Hall got the start at South Florida and at Utah State, he suffered concussions in both games and had to leave early. The redshirt freshman hasn’t been cleared from his most recent concussion, but has thrown for 420 yards and one touchdown on 67% passing this season. He’s also added 139 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 29 carries.
Romney, who came on in relief of Hall, also got the starts against Boise State and Liberty. So far, he’s thrown for 747 yards, seven touchdowns and two interceptions on 64% passing and rushed for 59 yards on 24 carries.
“It was a huge role for those guys — they stepped up,” Wilson said. “I know a lot of people know, we have great quarterback talent here at BYU. I was super proud of those guys, with lack of experience, being able to step up and take advantage of the opportunity and win us some big games. I’m happy those guys were able to step it up.”
During practice this week, both Wilson and Romney have taken a lot of reps.
Quarterbacks coach Aaron Roderick said Hall has been doing some things, but the start against Idaho State will come down to Wilson and Romney.
“We've pretty much decided what we're doing, but we're not going to announce it because why would we want to let our opponent know who's going to be going out there,” Roderick said.
Last week against Liberty, Wilson was on deck in case of an emergency. If he were needed, he would have gone in, but Romney had the game under control.
However, it was the first time Wilson threw on the pads and participated in pre-game warmups since getting injured.
When asked if he should get the starting job when he returns to action, Wilson said that’s not his call.
He doesn’t think a quarterback should lose his starting job due to injury, but understands there are other factors that go into the decision.
“That all comes back to the coaches — what they decide,” Wilson said. “I know they’re going to make the right decision for the team.
“It’s ‘best person plays’ is how the role should work. You’re going to play your best players because you want to win.”