BYU fans far from consensus on a starting quarterback, but show preference for a young QB

Courtesy Deseret News

The BYU Cougars finished Spring football last Saturday with its Spring Game. There was no official announcement of a starting quarterback, which is fine. No one was expecting there to be one. That doesn't mean a depth chart can't be established. Which is why, Blue Cougar Football wanted BYU fans to answer the question: "After Spring practices, who is your number one QB?" Over the last week, fans have been able to weigh in by voting on either this website or the @BlueCougarFball Twitter poll.

The composite poll results revealed that the Cougar fan base is far from a consensus on who they have at the top of their depth charts. None of the top four quarterbacks on the roster received more than 34 percent of the vote. However, it was very interesting to see that the two most experienced quarterbacks received the fewest votes. With 57 percent of voters selecting either true sophomore Joe Critchlow or true freshman Zach Wilson, it is fair to say the fans have a preference for a young guy to be the quarterback this fall. The official results are below.
Official Results
34% Joe Critchlow
23% Zach Wilson
21.5% Tanner Mangum
21.5% Beau Hoge
It is probably fair to say that Critchlow ended up with the most votes because he clearly outplayed the other quarterbacks in the Spring Game. He completed 75 percent of his passes and averaged over 10 yard per attempt while leading BYU to 17 points on his three drives. While the coaches will make their final decision based on what they have seen in practice every day, the way Critchlow played in a game-like situation should not be ignored. There is a very long list of football players who weren't "practice players," but in game situations, they perform better than those who show well in practice.

Although Critchlow led the pack by more than 10 percentage points, it is intriguing how the results were radically different on the two voting locations. Critchlow received the majority of the votes (52%) on this website, but came in third on Twitter (23%).

The Twitter results, in and of themselves, were fascinating. No quarterback received less than 20 percent of the votes, and no quarterback received more than 29 percent. The top two quarterbacks were Zach Wilson (29%), who is completely inexperienced, and Tanner Mangum (28%), who has the most question marks.

Wilson got the most publicity during the entirety of Spring practices, which is, kind of, the nature of the beast. Every Spring, it is the new and the unknown players who attract headlines, but when the season rolls around, the status quo is kept. As a 2018 recruit who enrolled early, Wilson was the shiny new toy. However, he did earn some of the attention he received.

The Corner Canyon product did many good things to show he is qualified to be a starting quarterback at this level, but is he ready for that this year? Maybe. With the stable of running backs that BYU has to take pressure off Wilson to win games, the new coaching staff might decide Wilson is the best guy for the job.

Mangum, right now, is a mystery. He didn't participate in the contact portions of practice because he has not fully recovered from his Achilles injury. Once he receives a clean bill of health, will he be susceptible to reinjury?

Even before he was lost for the season, Mangum was not playing well last year. Can he return to his 2015 form? Was the problem with Mangum or the offensive scheme that was being run? As a fan, remembering 2015 can be very persuasive when setting a depth chart for 2018. No one wants to see Mangum sit on the bench his senior season. After seeing what a pocket passer like Critchlow did in the Spring game, why not give a more experienced, and maybe more talented, guy like Mangum an opportunity?

Why Beau Hoge didn't receive more votes is up for debate. He had some good moments last year during the Utah State game and at the end of the first half at Fresno State. It could be because he also had heath issues in 2017. It could be that fans see Hoge and Wilson as interchangeable, and in a situation like that the fans prefer the guy who has more eligibility, which might lead to a perceived higher up side.

As for myself, at this point in time, my depth chart would read:
  1. Joe Critchlow
  2. Tanner Mangum
  3. Beau Hoge
  4. Zach Wilson
I like that Critchlow has some game experience, and that he rose to the occasion on the "big stage." I still believe Mangum can play great again. With a fresh start in a new system and more experienced players around him, he could put up big numbers. He also matches Critchlow's style, so the entire team doesn't have to adjust to a new "skill set" if the starter goes down. Hoge is now in his fourth year in the program. I value that, and think he has gained enough experience now that he can play well, if needed. Wilson comes in last because I would prefer to redshirt him and create two years separation between Crichlow and him.

Thank you to everyone who voted. A breakdown of the votes from each polling source is below. Please vote in this week's poll: When will BYU have two or more players drafted in the same NFL draft?

 Vote Breakdown 
12% (3)
 Tanner Mangum 
28% (11)
24% (6)
 Beau Hoge 
20% (8)
 52% (13)
 Joe Critchlow
 23% (9) 
 12% (3) 
 Zach Wilson
29% (12)
 100% (25)
 100% (40) 

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