What If Struggles Continue For BYU QB Kedon Slovis?

Sep 7, 2023, 1:06 PM

PROVO, Utah – The debut for Kedon Slovis as a BYU Cougar didn’t go well last week.

BYU’s offense only scored 14 points against an FBS newcomer Sam Houston. Slovis, who transferred in from Pitt for his final season as a collegiate quarterback, earned high praise throughout spring ball and fall camp practices. But when game time arrived last week, the offense sputtered.

Slovis finished with 145 passing yards and completed 60% of his 33 pass attempts. He averaged 4.4 yards per attempt.

“Pretty harshly. I’m not happy,” Slovis said on how he assessed his performance from the Sam Houston game. “Obviously, I’m happy we won and happy we didn’t turn the ball over and won by more than one possession. But I have higher expectations for myself and I have higher expectations for the offense; really, everybody felt that way after the game.”

BYU’s offense was ragged to open the 2023 season

Slovis wasn’t the cause of all of BYU’s struggles on offense against the Bearkats. The offensive line had costly penalties that killed drives. There were miscues on routes. As offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick said on Coordinators’ Corner earlier this week to sum up the play, “We looked ragged at times.”

BYU has since turned its attention to Southern Utah from the FCS ranks. It’s a game that many will expect BYU’s offense to have a bounceback performance. But what happens if they don’t and Kedon Slovis continues to struggle?

Hans Olsen saw encouraging signs from Kedon Slovis in week one

KSL Sports Zone’s Hans Olsen and Scott Garrard on “Hans & Scotty G.” discussed that during their Cougar Preview Show (Wednesday, 1-3 p.m.). Olsen, a former BYU defensive lineman in his first year as the radio analyst of BYU football broadcasts, believes in Slovis turning things around.

“I saw things out of Kedon Slovis that encourage me,” said Olsen. “I think Kedon is going to be OK. I want to see the ball released a little bit quicker, and I want to see him get better, for sure. He needs to get better and they need to hit some of those deep ball strikes.”

But what if the struggles happen again for Slovis against an SUU defense that gave future Big 12 foe Arizona State everything they could handle in a 24-21 setback last week in Tempe?

“There is no reason if it’s not working, and this offense doesn’t find a rhythm through Southern Utah and Arkansas, there’s no reason not to try something different.”

Is there a comparison?

Olsen made the comparison to what Utah experienced in 2021 with former Baylor quarterback Charlie Brewer before making a switch to Cam Rising.

“[Brewer] opens up against Weber State and they blitzed him and he did a pretty darn good job. Then they play BYU and Utah loses to BYU for the first time in [12] years. And things didn’t look real good for Charlie Brewer. Then they go to San Diego State and they’re playing that half against San Diego State, and it’s ugly.”

During that game against the Aztecs, Kyle Whittingham and his staff switched out Brewer for Cam Rising and the rest you could say, is history. Rising nearly led Utah to a comeback win against San Diego State. But after the 1-2 start, behind Rising, the Utes won the Pac-12 Championship. Brewer entered the Transfer Portal before Utah’s fourth game to preserve his collegiate eligibility. He later transferred to Liberty last season.

Kedon Slovis is ‘the guy,’ but don’t be afraid

Despite last week’s struggles, Olsen believes Slovis is the right guy to lead the BYU offense.

The former USC and Pitt signal-caller has eclipsed 10,000 career passing yards and was BYU’s staff’s No. 1 Transfer Portal target. But like what BYU did last week at running back by switching out Aidan Robbins for LJ Martin if a spark is needed, don’t be afraid to make a change.

“Give [Slovis] all the confidence in the world. I’ve got confidence [in him]. I think he’s the guy; I think he can do it. If he doesn’t, don’t be afraid,” said Olsen. “Kalani Sitake has already shown he’s not afraid to fire friends and bring in a new defensive staff. He’s not afraid to fire friends and bring in a new offensive staff when they let go of Ty Detmer. Kalani has already shown some of the guts it takes to be a head coach and the big-time decisions you’ve got to make.

“If it’s not working with Kedon Slovis –let’s just say it doesn’t against Southern Utah and it’s another 14-point game– … then try something.”

Behind Kedon Slovis is junior college transfer Jake Retzlaff. Retzlaff was the No. 1 JUCO quarterback prospect in the 2023 cycle. After Retzlaff, it’s former Boise State transfer Cade Fennegan, who is entering his third year in the program but has yet to take a snap in a game. Preferred walk-on Nick Billoups and a pair of true freshmen, Ryder Burton and Cole Hagen, round out the quarterback depth chart.

BYU vs. Southern Utah

Date: Saturday, September 9, 2023

Location: LaVell Edwards Stadium (Provo, Utah)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

TV: Big 12 Now on ESPN+

Radio: KSL NewsRadio (102.7 FM, 1160 AM); Extended pregame begins at 9 a.m.

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 in the Big 12 Conference on X (Twitter) and Threads: @Mitch_Harper.

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What If Struggles Continue For BYU QB Kedon Slovis?