BYU football: Meet Joe Critchlow, the next Cougar backup QB

October 11, 2017

With two minutes to go in Friday’s 24-7 loss to Boise State, the BYU football team turned its offense over to a guy most Cougar fans probably don’t know very well.

“It’s been a long time since I played football but I really did enjoy it,” freshman quarterback Joe Critchlow said after practice on Tuesday. “I felt the jitters, the excitement. I’m anxious to get some more playing time in for sure.”

But the four downs that Critchlow played indicated that right now he is the next guy on the depth chart.

“We didn’t play him at the end just to waste a year for him,” BYU offensive coordinator Ty Detmer said. “He’s got to be ready at any moment. That was a time in the game where we felt like we could get him in and get him some reps. It’s been awhile for him, so this was a time to let him get that feel and get the juices flowing.”

So just who is Joe Critchlow?

The freshman is from Franklin, Tenn., and grew up as a fan of nearby Vanderbilt University (where his mother worked in the admissions office).

During his high school career at Franklin, he amassed 4,427 passing yards and 50 touchdowns. According to his BYU bio, he was also recruited by

The freshman has only been back from his LDS mission to Montreal for 3.5 months but Detmer said Critchlow has done a good job learning what he needed to do.

“He picked up the offense really quickly this summer and had a pretty good feel for it,” Detmer said. “It’s one thing to learn it on paper and another to be out there running it and have it happen naturally.”

The initial plan was for Critchlow to redshirt, but as injuries and performance have impacted junior Tanner Mangum, sophomore Beau Hoge and sophomore Koy Detmer Jr., the Cougars needed Critchlow to be ready.

“I always prepared like I was going to see the field, watched all the film and participated in all the QB meetings with Coach Detmer,” Critchlow said. “I was preparing to play even though I didn’t know when exactly that would be. I was happy to contribute in any way I could.”

Detmer said BYU has been getting the freshman more practice repetitions this week to speed up his progress.

“He got a bunch last week with Tanner being out on Monday and limited on Tuesday,” Detmer said. “He’s getting more than a normal backup would because No. 1 with Tanner’s ankle you don’t know if a re-injury is going to happen and No. 2 he needs that extra work to understand the playcalls and the game plan.”

But the BYU offensive coordinator said there are no set plans to get Critchlow into the next game at Mississippi State on Saturday (10 a.m. MDT, SEC Network).

“It depends on how the game is going,” Detmer said. “If Tanner is seeing it, making the right reads and doing all the right things, then we’re going to play the guy who gives us the best chance to win. If not, then we expect Joe to go in and play. That will be determined by the situation of the game and how Tanner is playing.”

Critchlow said he trusts the BYU coaches to make the decisions about who to put on the field.

“I will control what I can control,” Critchlow said. “I’m going to prepare like I’m going to play, but how many reps I will see, I’m not sure.”

If he does get in the game, it will have added significance because of his ties to the area.

“Growing up I always loved the football atmosphere of the South,” Critchlow said. “Being able to go back close to home is a great opportunity. I have a lot of family who will be able to come to the game.”

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