PROVO — During fall camp, senior Tanner Mangum and true freshman Zach Wilson battled for BYU's starting quarterback job, with Mangum earning the nod a week before the season kicked off.
Six weeks into the campaign, looking for a way to jump-start an offense that had become stale, coach Kalani Sitake replaced Mangum with Wilson, who helped lead the Cougars to a 49-23 thumping of Hawaii last Saturday.
From the sideline, Mangum cheered on Wilson, who directed two touchdown drives on the Cougars' first two possessions.
Wilson was supportive of Mangum through the first six games and Mangum returned the favor this week.
“We have nothing but love for each other. We’re roommates and we help each other out with anything,” Wilson said. “It’s always a tough spot to be put in that situation. It went the same with me in the beginning. But we separate life from football. We realize there’s no reason to be mad or hate. We always want what’s best for the team. Tanner’s one of my biggest supporters and I am to him as well. I think we have a good friendship.”
How did Mangum take the news about the demotion?
“Really professional. He was all about the team,” said coach Kalani Sitake. “I can’t say he was happy. But I didn’t expect him to be happy with the decision. He handled it really well and was supportive of our team and of Zach.”
Wilson, who became the youngest QB, and the seventh true freshman, to start in BYU history, completed 16 of 24 passes for 194 yards and three touchdowns and an interception. He also ran for another TD.
Wilson’s three TD passes are the most by a true freshman quarterback in their first start and he recorded the highest pass efficiency rating (167.5) of any true freshman BYU QB in his first start.
“He stepped up and he played really well. He made some plays,” Cougar center James Empey said of Wilson. “Having him back there was great and having him perform that way was great too.”
YOUNG GUNNER: As the season goes along, true freshman wide receiver Gunner Romney is getting more playing time and he's becoming a key playmaker.
Romney has started the last two games for BYU and has caught a touchdown pass in both, including a 26-yard TD pass from Wilson late in the fourth quarter against Hawaii. He also had an impressive one-handed 13-yard reception.
On the season, Romney has caught nine passes for 127 yards and two touchdowns.
The highly regarded recruit had a slow start to the season partly because he entered fall camp with a hamstring injury.
“Coming off an injury, you have to take time to get back to 100 percent, even when you’re 100 percent you haven’t practice for a long time so you have to get back into your technique and your rhythm,” Romney said. “Then again, I’m coming to a new offense. This is my first year here. I had to get acclimated into the schemes and the techniques the coaches wanted me to. Hopefully, I keep getting better throughout the season.”
KICKOFF TIME ANNOUNCED: While BYU is enjoying a bye this week, the school announced Monday the kickoff time for the Oct. 27 game against Northern Illinois. The Cougars and Huskies will play at 1:30 p.m. MDT on ESPNU at LaVell Edwards Stadium.