BYU Football: It’s time to give Zach Wilson his shot as starter

(Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images) /

Tanner Mangum has done well so far this year, but not well enough to make up for other holes in the offense. It’s time to give Zach Wilson his shot.

This is a complete turnaround for me. Throughout the offseason and the early part of this season I’ve advocated for Tanner Mangum as the starting quarterback. I still don’t put the lion’s share of the offensive woes on his shoulders.

But it’s time to give Zach Wilson his chance with this offense.

There’s one caveat to this. If Kalani Sitake plans to have Wilson redshirt, and if that redshirt would be an important part of BYU Football’s long-term schedule, then the Cougars should go ahead and ride it out with Mangum.

But that’s a big if, especially after last weekend. If Sitake were worried about preserving the redshirt he wouldn’t have put Wilson in for just one drive against Utah State.

The Spark

The fact is, he did play one series, and it was an impressive one. He drove the Cougars down the field in one of the most impressive drives of the season, culminating in a touchdown.

And as Lawless Republic’s Adam Gibby pointed out, he didn’t do it against Utah State’s scrubs. A good number of Aggie starters were still on the field for that drive. They may not have been playing quite as hard with the game already over, but that’s beside the point.

Here’s the difference: the whole offense looked energized in that drive. Not only did Wilson make plays, but the whole offense did. Plays like Talon Shumway’s 15-yard diving catch. Or Gunner Romney’s touchdown catch and run.

There was a spark on offense, one that hasn’t been there since the trick pass touchdown against Wisconsin.

It’s a spark that’s been missing from the offense on a consistent basis for years.

Can Wilson replicate that spark consistently? Who knows.

But it’s time to find out.

Soft Landing

And this is the perfect time to give Wilson the reigns.

Throwing a brand new quarterback, especially a freshman, into a tough game as their first start is a recipe for disaster.

Just look at Beau Hoge last year against Wisconsin.

Hawaii isn’t Wisconsin. They give up nearly 30 points per game and more than 250 passing yards per game. It’s a good chance for Wilson to make his first start facing a less-than-stout defense.

Then there’s a bye week, a chance to get him more time with the first team in practice, then another home game against Northern Illinois. They’re better than Hawaii defensively, but not by much. They’re still giving up 24 points and 230 yards per game through the air.

Of course Boise state looms after that, but Wilson would have two games under his belt to get accustomed to being the starting quarterback at an FBS school.

Will Wilson be any better down the stretch than Mangum? Who knows. Mangum has played pretty well so far this season, but he isn’t good enough to make up for the myriad of other deficiencies in the BYU offense.

Wilson may not be either, but Mangum has had his chance, and now it’s time for the newcomer to have his.

Maybe he’ll give BYU the spark that they’re sorely lacking.