Fans and media members have to wait just one more day to find out who will start at quarterback for the BYU Cougars when they face Arizona in their college football season opener on Sept. 4 in Las Vegas.
After the last day of preseason training camp Tuesday, BYU coach Kalani Sitake announced that the starting quarterback will be named Wednesday in conjunction with the program releasing its two-deep chart for the Arizona game.
“We will have the majority of our depth chart figured out tomorrow, including our quarterback,” Sitake said in a Zoom meeting Tuesday afternoon.
The Deseret News has reported throughout camp that redshirt sophomore Jaren Hall is the front-runner, but has not been specifically told he’s the guy. Freshman Jacob Conover and redshirt sophomore Baylor Romney have also been in the mix.
Because Tuesday was the last scheduled news conference of the week, many speculated that Sitake would make the announcement that day after offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick said Saturday that a decision was imminent.
“We are going to go through meetings, use our time to talk to players, notify them what the situation is in a lot of different positions, and quarterback will be one of them. So obviously we will talk to the players first and be ready to have that announced to the rest of you guys tomorrow.” — BYU coach Kalani Sitake
Sitake said he didn’t want to tell the media before the players themselves, conversations he said would take place Tuesday afternoon and evening.
“We are going to go through meetings, use our time to talk to players, notify them what the situation is in a lot of different positions, and quarterback will be one of them,” Sitake said. “So obviously we will talk to the players first and be ready to have that announced to the rest of you guys tomorrow.”
In a one-on-one telephone interview before Sitake’s remarks, walk-on receiver Hobbs Nyberg said the three quarterbacks in the derby had received equal reps on Monday and Tuesday, as far as he could tell.
“It is still a battle. They are all really good,” Nyberg said. “I don’t think they even know yet. I think they are all still up for (consideration). They all rotate in and I don’t know who it will be.”
Roderick said Saturday that the players would have a good idea who was emerging as the starter during the last couple of practices of camp, but apparently not.
“They haven’t said anything about who will start, and it certainly isn’t (obvious) to me,” Nyberg said.
Throughout the summer and camp, Sitake had said he didn’t want to be held to a deadline regarding the naming of a starter. He even toyed with the idea of not announcing it until kickoff against Arizona.
“We decided to make this (Wednesday) the deadline, give guys the opportunity to finish out camp and then communicate with them who the starter will be,” Sitake said.
It is not clear whether the two-deep chart will include a backup, or if that competition will be decided during game prep week. Quite likely all three QBs will be listed, with an “or” between QB2 and QB3.
Sitake said it also hasn’t been determined yet who will be the scout team quarterback, the guy who imitates the opponent’s starting quarterback in practices leading up to kickoff.
“There are a number of guys that we can use there,” Sitake said. Roderick “has looked at a number of guys, even a left-hander, with Rhett Reilly. We have a bunch of different guys that can give us different looks and (have) a different skill set. We are going to use all those guys.
“Then we are going to figure out who are going to be the quarterbacks that will travel as well,” he continued. “So that will all be factored out tomorrow.”
Coincidentally, Arizona on Tuesday announced that it will use a two-quarterback rotation against BYU. First-year coach Jedd Fisch said both redshirt freshman Gunner Cruz and freshman Will Plummer will play in the game at Allegiant Stadium in Vegas.
BYU’s Roderick told the Deseret News last Thursday that he told the QBs last Wednesday where they stood at the time on the depth chart, but still wanted to give them equal reps in the scrimmage Saturday and throughout the remainder of camp to give them the chance to confirm his ranking, or change his mind.
Sitake said Tuesday all three quarterbacks “stepped up” the final week and put their best out there for consideration. He said he’s confident the Cougars can win games with any of the three.
There was some news Tuesday beyond the quarterback situation.
Sitake said junior receiver Brayden Cosper sustained a season-ending injury a few days ago in practice.
“He had surgery and is going to be recovering,” Sitake said. “He’s back with the team in meetings and helping the guys out. He is basically coaching and keeping positive and trying to be a leader like he’s been all year long.”
Sitake said Cosper “made a great catch” during practice but “came down on it wrong” and is out for the year.
Aside from Cosper and a few other guys who were injured over the spring and summer such as defensive backs Micah Harper and Talan Alfrey, the Cougars are relatively healthy coming out of camp, Sitake said.
“There are still some guys who got banged up during camp; it was a physical camp,” he said. “Right now they are all in play for the game, though. We will see when we get closer to the game if those guys will be ready to roll.”
And which quarterback will be taking the snaps.