Flashback: Marc Wilson and Steve Young

Credit: Mark Philbrick, BYU Photos

The BYU Quarterbacks Timeline was published yesterday. Among the many quarterbacks on that timeline are Marc Wilson and Steve Young. In fact, Wilson and Young are two of the greatest quarterbacks in Brigham Young Cougars history. Both have their jerseys retired. Five years ago, BYUTV did a "Looking Back" segment with each of these quarterbacks (embedded below). That has inspired BLUE COUGAR FOOTBALL to do its own little look back for each of these quarterbacks.

For those new to BLUE COUGAR FOOTBALL, during the offseason the weekly flashback looks back in five year intervals. In the case of Wilson, that means we look back 40 years to 1978.

Wilson's career started and ended with a bang, but 1978 was a struggle. It wasn't anything that Wilson did. At the end of the 1977 season, offensive coordinator Doug Scovil took a job in the NFL. His replacement didn't want to use the same playbook. That meant calling plays that didn't take advantage of Wilson's strengths.

Injuries and ineffective play caused Wilson and Jim McMahon to switch back and forth at quarterback for the Cougars. At the end of the season it was McMahon, not Wilson, who was named the first team All-WAC quarterback. That doesn't mean Wilson didn't make valuable contributions to the team that season.

In fact, Wilson had more yards passing (1,499 to 1,307), more touchdown passes (8 to 6), more yards total offense (1,584 to 1,555), and a higher completion percentage (51.9 to 49.4) than McMahon 40 years ago. As far as individual games go, Wilson had the best game by a quarterback in 1978. Against Hawaii, he completed 21 of 30 passes (70%) for 291 yards, and 2 touchdowns with 0 interceptions. He also added 61 yards and another touchdown on the ground.

Wilson fought through the adversity of 1978 and it paid off in 1979 when Scovil returned and Wilson became the full-time starter again.

Steve Young had one of the best seasons ever for one of the boys in blue, and college football as a whole, 35 years ago. In 1983, he set 13 NCAA records, including single season completion percentage (71.3).

The season started with one of the greatest individual performances college football had ever seen, up to that point. Young passed for 351 yards and rushed for 113 yards against the Baylor Bears. He accounted for three touchdowns (1 passing, 2 rushing).

He only got better from there.

With Young at the helm, the BYU offense was the best in the nation, and best in NCAA history, averaging 584.2 yards per game. He led the nation in passing yards (3,902), touchdown passes (33), completion percentage, pass efficiency (168.3), and total offense (395.1 yards per game). He was named consensus All-American, and the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy.

Young passed for over 300 yards nine times. The only games he didn't top 300 was against eventual Pac-10 champion UCLA (270 yards), and Utah (268). Against Utah, Young didn't reach the 300 yard mark because he was so efficient. He only threw the ball 25 times, but still had a career high six touchdown passes.

As one of the original dual threat quarterbacks, Young added 444 yards and 8 touchdowns on the ground.

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