Baylor Romney makes his case to be BYU’s starting quarterback this fall, replacing Zach Wilson
Romney and freshman Jacob Conover made more impressive throws Monday than Jaren Hall, who seemed to be taking the lead in the QB derby last week
Don’t crown Jaren Hall as BYU’s starting quarterback just yet.
That was the message delivered by the other two competitors in the three-way QB derby during the media viewing portion of BYU’s practice on Monday, as redshirt sophomore Baylor Romney and freshman Jacob Conover mostly outplayed Hall in practice-ending 7-on-7 drills.
Of course, 7-on-7 scrimmages without pads on aren’t close to real football, as Romney acknowledged after the practice held indoors because of another day of smoky conditions in Provo. But timing and accuracy are important attributes for a QB to have, and on this day Romney and Conover had it.
“I mean, those guys, they want it. I want it. And we will see how it turns out in the next couple of weeks. … The reps have been even so far, between the three of us.” — BYU quarterback Baylor Romney
The session ended with Hall getting intercepted by cornerback D’Angelo Mandell on a throw to the back of the end zone intended for tight end Bentley Hanshaw.
Whereas Hall spoke to reporters after Thursday’s first practice of camp, Romney took his turn Monday and described the quarterback competition as “competitive” and far from decided.
“I mean, those guys, they want it,” Romney said. “I want it. And we will see how it turns out in the next couple of weeks. … The reps have been even so far, between the three of us.”
Romney threw some pretty passes to Hobbs Nyberg, Terence Fall and the running backs, the throw to Fall going for a score. Generally, he checks down more than the other two, for whatever reason.
Conover made the throw of the session, hooking up with tight end Isaac Rex for a touchdown on a perfectly placed ball just beyond a defender’s finger tips.
Fourth-stringer Sol-Jay Maiava-Peters also saw some time and threw a touchdown pass to tight end Carter Wheat.
“Things have been clicking on offense, especially today and on Saturday,” Romney said. “As we keep installing our offense, things keep on clicking and things are going well on both sides of the ball. A lot of guys are stepping up on both sides.”
Romney said the Cougars have so many weapons on offense that it “can be hard” to pick out a target due to the embarrassment of riches. That’s true even though the Nacua brothers — Puka and Samson — have done very little in practice.
“There are not just one or two guys out there who (have) the mismatches, essentially,” Romney said. “You look around the offense, and that is everyone. It is nice to know that at every position you have a guy that is going to win their job on that play.”
Asked Monday to make a case for himself — in the form of a question about what attributes he brings to the table, Romney alluded to the traits that helped him lead BYU to wins over Boise State and Liberty two years ago.
“Yeah, I feel like I play a very poised game of football, and I have my mindset as quarterback to distribute the ball to the playmakers and let them be the ones that make plays on time,” he said.
One of those weapons is his younger brother, receiver Gunner Romney, who said Monday that he’s staying out of talk about the QB derby as much as possible. Little brother said all three QBs are “totally” capable of winning games.
That’s what coach Kalani Sitake, who also spoke to the media on Monday, said will be the deciding factor in who is picked: wins.
“Score points and win, that’s what it is,” Sitake said. “I don’t know if we need to break it down other than we are going to have the best leader out there that can put us into position to score as many points as we can. And that’s going to be the bottom line.”
Judging from comments made by other players and coaches, Hall seems to be the most dynamic leader of the three at this point in his career, but Sitake quickly replied to a question about leadership factoring into the equation heavily that the other two guys can lead, too.
“I don’t know if one is better than the other,” Sitake said. “I am glad that we have this problem with three guys that can play. … Right now because all three of those guys handle that stuff really well, it is about what I see on the field and what I want to see in the meeting rooms and how they connect with (offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick). That’s going to be the key that separates one from the other.”
Sitake said there have been no season-ending injuries through four practices of camp, thanks in part to the players “taking care of each other” and not making unnecessary hits and such. However, on Monday returned missionary Talan Alfrey, a defensive back, announced on Instagram that he tore his Achilles’ tendon during a routine workout last month and will be out for the season.
Sitake said the Cougars will probably go live — scrimmage in pads — for the first time in camp later this week.
He said there will be “enough” hitting in camp to help coaches identify their best players.
“There are enough guys out there that have played enough plays that I don’t know if they need to see a full game’s worth of it,” he said. “But there are times where we are going to need to see guys go live. How much depends on their experience and what we have seen so far in the first part of camp.”
Baylor Romney said he has been hit enough and played enough live football that not being tackled until the first game is fine with him. As far as a timeline to name a starter is concerned, Romney said the message has been sent that it could come as soon as next week.
Roderick “just said the first couple of weeks reps will be split evenly,” Romney said. “I don’t know what that means as far as how far into fall camp we are going to be before reps start to get divvied up differently. But we just gotta take it one day at a time and make the most out of that day.”
Monday, he did that well.