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Why experienced QB room is all the more important for BYU in 2020

With quarterbacks Zach Wilson, Jaren Hall and Baylor Romney all experienced heading into the 2020 season, the Cougars should be prepared should virus flare up

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Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Zach Wilson warms up before the game against Idaho State at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

PROVO — In the world of COVID-19 football, quarterbacks who test negative will be worth their weight in gold.

This COVID-19 sports world has us on the virtual edge.

It’s like living in a science apocalyptic tale. Dr. Anthony Fauci said don’t wear masks, then to wear them, and now advises adding goggles to fight the virus. Power conferences are electing to play intramurals — play just in-league games — but want to travel outside county and state lines to do so.

Will there even be games? Will there be a season? Will it start on time? What if a few players get sick? Tests will be given every week, how’s that for game prep? What if a position group room gets infected? What about sick opponents? How long will a guy who tested positive have to be quarantined? Will those who had contact with him have to go into seclusion too?

COVID QBs could be the thing. If healthy, they could be the real key.

In this realm, it looks like BYU offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes is rich. He has three QBs who have started on his roster when/if camp opens next week.

You’ve got junior Zach Wilson, who folks say is in the best shape of his life.

You’ve got freaky athletic Jaren Hall, chomping at Wilson’s tail, who’d better have a role if you want him to stay out of the transfer portal.

You’ve got your Utah State-Boise State slayer Baylor Romney, just waiting for a chance to show his timing and touch strengths.

All can perform.

All have proven valuable.

All are ready to play if a coronavirus storm hits and takes a quarterback out — just so it isn’t the entire room.

And that’s the thing, if there is a season, it could come down to a numbers game.

A great team could have the wrong number and the right positions test positive and end up with a junk game or forfeit.

Of course, other positions are important, too, like the O-line guys.

But no position on a football team has more influence — for good or bad — than the QB. He’s the cornerstone of a football team. You may get lucky with a bad one and win; you can scrape by with an average but consistent one, but you can’t consistently win without a really good one.

Lou Holtz once said, “If Tiger Woods had played football, he would have been a quarterback.”

Ask Alabama, Clemson and LSU how big an edge that position can make.

Grimes and pass game coordinator Aaron Roderick aren’t breaking in rookies. They aren’t waiting to see what they’ve got. They have veterans who faced Tennessee and Southern Cal and found ways to win.

Wilson, who led the Cougars to wins over the Vols and Trojans, had a 130 pass efficiency rating with 62% completion percentage. His backups, Romney and Hall, were at 159.82 (63%) and 151.26 (67%) last year.

And yes, they and their mates should have somehow found wins over Toledo, South Florida, San Diego State and Hawaii after losing Ty’Son Williams, then Sione Finau. 

And yes, that still haunts everyone that had a stake in last season, including head coach Kalani Sitake.

This is where you pick up with BYU football — erasing inconsistencies — not all the fault of the QBs, but they feel it probably more than most.

They’re the 2020 QBs in the year of COVID-19.

And they’re expected to be good.

They are also expected to have the rug pulled from underneath them at any time if the virus flares like it did with a couple of Major League Baseball teams last Monday.

They are not playing in a bubble as is the NBA near Disneyland in Orlando.

They’ll start fall camp next week, with only rumors of who will be their first opponent. Or second. Or if there will be an opponent.

Like their teammates, they’ll have to approach things with tremendous flexibility, an open mind, a ton of focus, more so than any season of their lives.

If their first game is Alabama, it’s automatically a big stage out of the chute, an opponent you don’t sleepwalk into. 

But playing Alabama, Tennessee, USC, Texas and Michigan as routine parts of seasons is why they came to play at independent BYU. This is what they signed up for.

They are one of the most experienced QB rooms around, protected by the best equipment, helmets, pads and braces on the market.

And they’ve never been more vulnerable.