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BYU offense this fall will feature up-tempo style, running quarterback

Passing Game Coordinator and Quarterbacks Coach Aaron Roderick gathers his players after a walkthrough in their indoor practice facility in Provo on Friday, Aug. 10, 2018.
Passing Game Coordinator and Quarterbacks Coach Aaron Roderick gathers his players after a walkthrough in their indoor practice facility in Provo on Friday, Aug. 10, 2018.
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

PROVO — BYU’s offensive identity is taking shape.

In part, the Cougars’ quarterbacks will be managing an up-tempo style and they’ll be making plays with their legs next fall.

That was on display during the spring scrimmage on March 23, when Jaren Hall completed 12 of 14 passes for 203 yards and two touchdowns and ran five times for 59 yards and led four touchdown drives.

“He had a good scrimmage. He played really well. He was very efficient. Every drive he was in, we scored,” said quarterbacks coach Aaron Roderick. “Statistically, he played well but it was more than that. He made some plays that don’t show up in the stats. He did some smart things, he made some accurate throws. You could see that he is a good athlete. He’s one of the best athletes on this team.”

BYU’s No. 1 quarterback, Zach Wilson, who didn’t take snaps during spring drills as he recovers from shoulder surgery, enjoys running when needed — like Hall.

Roderick is not concerned having quarterbacks that like to run.

“I’ve always liked a running quarterback. When I coached up the road, we ran the quarterback a lot. It’s a great equalizer for defenses,” he said. “You don’t want to be foolish about it. We talk every day about which situations in a game that you want to avoid hits and which situations in a game that are acceptable to go get everything you can. The quarterback run-game is definitely going to be part of what we do.”

Wilson feels comfortable directing a hurry-up offense.

“We’re hitting last year in stride. The coaches are smart dudes and they understand what was working for us last year so we’re trying to keep going with what was working,” he said. “Not only that, with the personnel we have, BYU is made for that kind of offense. The coaches are very familiar with it so we’re heading in that direction. When I started playing a little bit we started running a two-minute offense normally a lot of the time. We started trying to install that as our base offense. Now we’re just kind of perfecting it and really turning into that kind of thing.”

Offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes said he’s very happy with the improvement he saw from Hall, Joe Critchlow and Baylor Romney.

Coach Kalani Sitake was asked about Romney, a redshirt freshman.

“He’s a really good athlete. He can run and he’s big and he’s got a big body. He’s been home for over a year now from his mission so he’s more comfortable,” Sitake said. “He really started to come on strong toward the end of spring ball. It’s nice to have that competition. I’ve seen a lot of progress from the three guys that got the bulk of the reps in the spring, with Baylor being one of them.”

HEALTHY SPRING: The Cougars finished spring relatively healthy. Offensive lineman Tristen Hoge suffered a leg injury during the spring scrimmage but Sitake said Hoge should be fine.

"No surgery required. All the injuries we had, no one needs to have surgery,” Sitake said. “That’s a positive. That’s what we pray for. It’s all good.”

PLACEKICKING BATTLE: The competition between Skyler Southam and Jake Oldroyd at placekicker will continue during the summer.

“It’s nice to see Skyler and Jake compete. We’ll continue that competition and see how it goes. It’s good to have two quality kickers that have played in games and have won games,” Sitake said. “We’ll see what happens with Skyler and Jake. That’s still up for grabs. Punting is something we need to look at … We have candidates, it’s just a matter of who’s going to win the spot.”