Stewart Set to Make First Start Against UCF

With the season-ending injury to Taysom Hill, the focus now turns to BYU backup quarterback Christian Stewart. The Cougars were once looking at an undefeated season with one of the more prolific players in college football at the helm, but now place their hopes and the season on the back of a quarterback with zero division one starts under his belt.

With a 35-20 loss to Utah State last Friday, BYU was knocked out of the national polls with the rest of the season placed upon the shoulders of an unproven backup with zero division one starts, a 63.61 pass efficiency rating, and only four games played. With Halloween is just around the corner this is a nightmare scenario for BYU.

“A lot of work has already been put in,” said BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall. “We’re already working on the next opponent. I’ve already just talked to Christian, and he’s an amazing, amazing person and is optimistic and positive and ready to lead the team.”

Christian Stewart will get his first start against a UCF defense that is very talented. Defensive backs Clayton Geathers and Jacoby Glenn are both listed on the Jim Thorpe Watch List while Terrace Plummer is listed on the Bednarik, Lombardi, and Butkus Watch Lists.

“They’re tough, they’re tough,” said wide receiver Mitch Mathews. “Their head coach is a defensive-minded guy. They’re hard-nosed and they tackle really hard. Coach Holliday has played against them for five years in the last seven years. He said they play defense really hard and that’s been their mantra”

The Cougars spent the bye-week looking inward to polish up their scheme, execution, and level of play. Unfortunately, that effort didn’t result in a home victory over Utah State. Coach Mendenhall drove home the notion that the season cannot rest upon the shoulders of a now injured Taysom Hill, but the season must rest upon a higher level of execution across the board in order to facilitate the loss of Hill.

“What happens now, and what I thought, is that the team has to execute at a higher level,” said Mendenhall. “Taysom is gone and one player does not make a team, even though Taysom is a fantastic player, but the execution of all positions within their assignment and technique has to improve right now.”

“Christian is a great quarterback,” said Mathews. “He has all the tools necessary to win the rest of the games we play. He’s a smart guy and we love him and we trust him in whatever he does.”

Stewart has the arm to make all of the throws in the passing game of BYU’s offense. He doesn’t, however, have the same athleticism as Taysom Hill in the run game although he is a mobile quarterback.

“You know, if he’s more creative then we’ll adapt to him because our quarterback is the center of our offense,” said Mathews. “We’ll do everything we can for him.

“He’s really good and he’s always been good because he’s a great quarterback. I’ve been with him- I think this is our third year with him- and I know exactly where he’s going to throw the ball and where he wants to put the ball. He’s really good at throwing the ball, so there’s not going to be no steps back in our passing game, which we’re exciting about.”

Right now UCF is ranked 57th among NCAA programs in pass defense, sixth in the American Athletic Conference. The UCF defense isn’t the best secondary that BYU has faced all season long, which is good for Christian Stewart. However, UCF front seven are very, very good ranking 16th in the nation in sacks led by junior defensive end Thomas Niles.

“We have a great quarterback and we’re moving forward,” said Mathews. “Our guys are excited to make Christian look as good as possible and do everything we can to make the team look as good as possible.”

Christian Stewart

In this video, Christian Stewart talks about taking over for the offense in place of an injured Taysom. He talks about how the offense will go forward and what he expects to do now that the season rests upon his shoulders and much more.

Cougar Cam: Christian Stewart

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