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Jaren Hall’s Status Remains Big Question For BYU Entering Bowl Week

Dec 12, 2022, 3:57 PM
Jaren Hall, BYU Football, QB Update...
BYU quarterback Jaren Hall has passed for 31 touchdowns in 2022. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)
(Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

PROVO, Utah – BYU quarterback Jaren Hall continues to navigate through an ankle injury. So it begs the question, will he play this Saturday when BYU takes on SMU in the 2022 New Mexico Bowl?

It’s still to be determined.

Will Jaren Hall play in the New Mexico Bowl?

“Jaren has not been eliminated from contention to play. So there’s that,” said BYU coach Kalani Sitake on Monday. “He hasn’t participated as much as we’d like him to be in practices, but this week will tell.”

Sitake noted that the Monday practice will be “important for us to see how much he’s progressed and where he’s at.”

Hall suffered a right ankle injury during the regular-season finale at Stanford on November 26 in Palo Alto. In the days following the injury that BYU coaches and Hall deemed “precautionary,” Hall told KSL Sports on November 30 that he planned to play in BYU’s postseason bowl game.

Jaren Hall has had the best year statistically of his BYU career in 2022. In 12 games, Hall completed 66% of his passes, throwing for 3,171 yards and 31 touchdowns to only six interceptions. Hall’s quarterback rating this season is 160.8.

Along with his passing numbers, Hall has played in 782 of BYU’s 809 offensive snaps in 12 games this season. Plain and simple, BYU’s offense goes through Jaren Hall. And it has been that way since he took over as the starting quarterback in 2021.

There is a precedent for Hall to play in games despite limited practice time. In October, Hall didn’t practice until the Thursday before the Las Vegas tilt with the Irish, and he still started and played the entire game. A game BYU lost 28-20.

Last year, he suffered a cracked ribs injury but returned in short order to start against Boise State. BYU lost that game as well. That was a loss when they were ranked No. 10 in the country.

What’s different this time around is that Hall might have a pro career ahead of him in the near future. Hall hasn’t officially announced what he plans to do after this season. However, he said with a smile on Senior Day last month that the media would be the last to know of his decision. So maybe he’s just keeping us media types in the dark.

Hall does have a year of eligibility remaining to return to Provo if he wishes to do so. Or he can leave for the NFL, where he is viewed as a potential day two pick.

“If there’s a chance that he can play, he wants to. If you guys know anything about him and his competitiveness, he wants to get on the field and play,” Sitake said on Jaren Hall. “But it’s our responsibility to keep him safe, knowing that he has the potential to play at the next level and to make sure that he does it the right way.”

Backup QB options for BYU football after Hall

Who will BYU turn to if Hall is sidelined for the bowl game?

The answer is likely Cade Fennegan. That’s a change from the regular season backup in Jacob Conover.

Earlier this month, Conover entered the transfer portal and has since landed at Arizona State.

Fennegan is a former Boise State transfer who stood out on BYU’s scout team last season. He hasn’t appeared in a game for BYU during his two seasons with the program. Last month, Fennegan was dealing with an ankle injury of his own but is back now and competing at practice.

Along with Fennegan, BYU has Sol-Jay Maiava-Peters and preferred walk-on Nick Billoups.

When BYU turned to Conover in the regular season finale at Stanford, the Cougars attempted only one pass attempt. They had a nine-point lead, but they became a one-dimensional offense. If Hall doesn’t play, does Sitake have the trust in the backups to run the offense as currently constructed?

“Of course. That’s what they are here to do,” said Sitake. “So a lot of confidence in Sol-Jay Maiava, Nick Billoups, and Cade Fennegan. Those guys, they’ve gotta roll. That’s our mindset. They’ve practiced really well so far. So we get it going into the game this week. Obviously, we want to get Jaren ready to roll. But if he’s unable to go, I trust those guys.”

BYU will take on SMU in the 2022 New Mexico Bowl this Saturday at 5:30 p.m. on ABC and KSL NewsRadio. The team leaves for Albuquerque on Wednesday, December 14.

BYU vs. SMU

2022 New Mexico Bowl

Kickoff: 5:30 p.m. (MT)

TV: ABC

Radio: KSL NewsRadio (102.7 FM, 1160 AM – Extended pregame begins at Noon)

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Mitch will be in Albuquerque for the 2022 New Mexico Bowl between BYU and SMU. Follow his coverage on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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Jaren Hall’s Status Remains Big Question For BYU Entering Bowl Week