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BYU's 'Big Critch' taking his newfound celebrity status in stride

PROVO — After helping lead BYU to a victory in his first start last Friday, freshman quarterback Joe Critchlow admits that he’s getting a little more attention this week on campus.

“I’ve definitely gotten a few more ‘hellos’ and a lot of congratulations,” he said.

Meanwhile, someone has created a faux Twitter account in his honor and there’s a video of him dancing in the locker room in celebration after the Cougars' win over UNLV that's made the rounds on social media.

Critchlow’s taking it all in stride as he prepares for his first home start Saturday against UMass.

The BYU offensive line has given him a nickname — “Big Critch.”

“No matter what, if we block as long as we can and give him the time, he’ll get us in the end zone. He showed at the game that he does and he can,” said offensive lineman Tuni Kanuch. “It gives us a lot of confidence in Joe himself. He’s a freshman, trying to prove himself. He sat there with confidence and great poise. People were coming to hit him and he was taking those shots. He threw great passes.”

Offensive coordinator Ty Detmer liked the way the offense responded to Critchlow and rallied around him for his first start.

“It added some excitement. His personality is pretty bubbly. The guys see that and see his excitement which adds a little bit more in maybe not such a great season that there’s a glimmer of light that came in and sparked people a little bit,” Detmer said. “They like him as a person and wanted to play hard for him and see him do well. You see that everybody’s rooting for him, as they would anybody else that would be in there. His personality is pretty upbeat and confident, even when he makes a bad play, he’s like, ‘But that was a pretty good drop, though, wasn’t it?’ when he throws an interception in practice. He’s always looking for the positive in things, which is good.”

NEXT IN LINE AT LINEBACKER: BYU started the season with Fred Warner, Butch Pau’u and Francis Bernard at linebacker.

Warner and Pau’u are still the starters, though they’ve played with injuries. Matt Hadley, who replaced Bernard, suffered a season-ending injury and a variety of linebackers have gotten playing time since.

“You manage the best you can. It’s not like the NFL, where you have a waiver wire,” said linebackers coach Steve Kaufusi. “That’s the fun part of coaching. You only have so many guys and when you have injuries, you start moving guys around. We’ve had some guys move down from safety. You have injuries and you do the best you can. No excuses. You try to get the next guy ready.”

THE ROAD GRADERS: BYU running backs coach Reno Mahe loved the way Squally Canada played last Friday at UNLV, rushing for 213 yards.

But he also gave a lot of credit to the offensive line.

“You can’t look past the O-line and what they did. Coach (Mike) Empey has done a great job,” Mahe said. “And when our tight ends and fullbacks and wide receivers are blocking, you can break those big ones. Squally had a feel for it and he had one of those special games. He just made plays.”