BYU Football Held ‘Boring’ Scrimmage For TV Cameras

Mar 31, 2023, 9:32 PM | Updated: Apr 3, 2023, 12:48 pm

PROVO, Utah – For only the second time, BYU football held a spring scrimmage in front of a TV audience. The first time it happened was in 2017. It hasn’t happened until the 2023 scrimmage.

On Friday, BYU coaches reluctantly had a spring game on TV again. This time as they prepare for their first season as a member of the Big 12 Conference.

BYU OC Aaron Roderick: “That was pretty boring”

Knowing that the cameras were rolling, BYU coaches didn’t want to show much to their future conference foes.

“Yeah, that was pretty boring. Sorry for that,” said BYU offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick after the scrimmage. “We just didn’t want to show anything on offense, especially with the first group. And we didn’t want to get anybody hurt. Then we weren’t tackling. So the first-team offense was down when they touch you. That makes it kind of hard.”

Kedon Slovis made his debut in front of BYU football fans

The effort to prevent injuries benefitted the defense as they got after BYU’s first team offense. Pitt transfer QB Kedon Slovis made his debut in front of BYU fans at LaVell Edwards Stadium. Slovis threw an interception to starting cornerback Jakob Robinson, who made an excellent play on the ball.

That was an uncharacteristic bad pass from Slovis, who has had a solid spring and immersed himself as one of BYU’s leaders.

“It’s always frustrating. I think any spring game I’ve ever had, you kind of walk away wanting to do more. But it is what it is. You don’t show too much for TV,” said Slovis. “We did have a scrimmage on Tuesday, and we felt really good after that. So you know, you’ve got to keep perspective with all of that stuff.”

Slovis finished Friday’s afternoon scrimmage 6-of-13 for 50 yards and an interception. He also had two rushes for no yards.

“I was looking for good decision making and I think he did that for the most part except for a couple of plays,” BYU coach Kalani Sitake said on what he wanted to see from Slovis. “I think the defense did some really good things. It’s kind of hard in this situation, when you’re doing “Thud,” to even run the ball. Guys are down on contact, and you saw with the live work, it’s not easy to make tackles.”

Buy stock now on the BYU defensive line

BYU’s defensive line made an impression that they are a completely different group than the one last year that struggled to create pressure. Defensive ends Tyler Batty, Boise State transfer Isaiah Bagnah, and interior linemen John Nelson and SUU transfer Wyatt Dawe all had QB hurries.

New BYU defensive coordinator Jay Hill wasn’t ready to claim the defense won the scrimmage as he, too, admitted that not much was shown.

“I know A-Rod kept things very generic on their end. We did the same thing; we didn’t want to give away a lot,” said Hill. “When the ones went against the ones, that was about getting better. That was about getting the right guys on the field. We had some of the twos working with the ones at that time to see if they deserved to be with that group. Bottom line, today was about getting better, and I thought we did that.”

Players in the second, third, and even fourth units got an opportunity to compete in front of fans at LaVell Edwards Stadium.

Digging into the BYU football depth chart

Some players currently deep on the depth chart that showed well include running back Nukuluve Helu. Helu, a former star ball carrier at Tooele High, had six carries, 56 yards.

Also preferred walk-on tight ends Anthony Olsen and Nason Coleman combined for six catches for 48 yards.

The backup QB battle continues

JUCO transfer Jake Retzlaff made the most of his opportunity to get second-team QB reps. Retzlaff finished with 69 passing yards, completing 70% of his 10 pass attempts and rushing for 12 yards on two carries.

Roderick gave snaps to all of his quarterbacks on Friday. Cade Fennegan finished with four yards through the air. Preferred walk-on Nick Billoups had a highlight-worthy touchdown run that saw him truck BYU freshman Ty Burke on his way into the endzone.

Then freshmen Ryder Burton got some run throwing for 69 yards and walk-on Cole Hagen, the older brother to BYU WR signee Cody Hagen.

The battle to be the primary backup behind Slovis will likely rage on after spring practices conclude in two weeks.

Roderick did say that Retzlaff and Fennegan are the two players battling for that No. 2 spot on the depth chart.

BYU will take next week off from practice and focus on conditioning. They will return to the practice field on Monday, April 10, and then conclude spring practice on Friday, April 14.

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Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow Mitch’s coverage of BYU moving to the Big 12 Conference on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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BYU Football Held ‘Boring’ Scrimmage For TV Cameras