COUGAR TRACKS

Will BYU Slow Down Kansas QB Jalon Daniels?

Sep 21, 2023, 7:35 PM

PROVO, Utah – BYU football has another tough test in the form of an opposing quarterback this week.

After upsetting Arkansas on the road led by QB KJ Jefferson, the power five gauntlet continues for the Cougars with the start of Big 12 play.

BYU looks to slow down Kansas QB Jalon Daniels

This week, BYU is tasked with containing Big 12 preseason offensive player of the year Jalon Daniels, star quarterback for the Kansas Jayhawks.

Daniels came into the season with back tightness. He was limited during fall camp, and the stiffness caused him to miss the season opener against Missouri State.

Daniels returned in week two against Illinois. His passing numbers in two starts have been excellent. He’s passing for 575 yards, completing 75% of his passes and is averaging 10.3 yards per attempt.

One thing that has been surprising with Daniels is the lack of success on the ground.

A dual-threat prospect, Daniels rushed for 425 yards in nine games last season. In his two starts this year, he’s only rushed for 20 yards on 18 attempts.

Perhaps it’s a byproduct of the lingering back tightness. Regardless, BYU knows Daniels is a talented quarterback.

BYU football still has areas to improve on defense

Through three weeks, BYU’s defense has been solid. But still, a lot of room to improve.

“We left a ton on the table [at Arkansas],” said BYU defensive end Tyler Batty to KSL Sports on the Cougar Tracks Podcast. “Our guys are confident. We know what we’re capable of; it’s just when the moment comes, we’ve got to execute.”

Defensive coordinator Jay Hill was happy with last week’s effort in the win over Arkansas. But noted that he doesn’t like the “bend but don’t break” style of play.

Any carryover between Arkansas and Kansas quarterbacks?

“I would say [Daniels is] more elusive,” said Jay Hill. “He does a great job of getting the ball out of his hand, does a good job with the RPO game, doesn’t hold on to it very much. And when he does, you’ve got to catch him when he’s scrambling. So he brings a lot of problems to the field.”

BYU is 59th nationally in Havoc rate on defense through three weeks. It’s a measure of plays that end in a sack, TFL, pass deflection, or turnover. They’ve created havoc on 18.6% of their snaps. It’s a big jump from last season, where they were only at 12.9%.

That 18.6% clip will likely need to go up if they hope to contain Daniels.

Trying to simulate Daniels

During practice this week, BYU had scout team quarterback Nick Billoups taking on the role of Jalon Daniels.

Billoups was wearing a No. 6 jersey (a retired number at BYU) to get BYU’s first-team defense used to the number six in an opposing backfield.

“There’s a reason why he was the preseason Big 12 Conference Player of the Year. We’ve got to go out and contain him,” said Hill on Daniels. “We gotta go out and do some things that cause him some consternation and some disbelief in what he’s trying to do based on our coverages and our blitzes and the things we’re bringing at him.

BYU had a career performance from Batty last week in the win over Arkansas. Batty finished with nine tackles, 1.5 sacks, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery.

That impact garnered Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week honors for the fourth-year defensive end.

A collective effort to contain the Kansas offense

He, Ben Bywater, Max Tooley, AJ Vongphachanh, Eddie Heckard, Jakob Robinson, and others will have to come up with significant contributions as they did against Arkansas to contain Daniels and the Kansas offense.

The Jayhawks boast one of the more complex offensive schemes in the Big 12. There will be a lot of motion, maybe some option package, pistol, shotgun, you name it; Kansas is going to throw it out there with Daniels leading the way.

“They’re a really good team,” said Batty to KSL Sports. “A really disciplined team. They execute at a really high level and their offense is talented. They’re a high-effort team as well. … So I’m really excited and the team is really excited for the challenge ahead of us.”

BYU (3-0) vs. Kansas (3-0)

Date: Saturday, September 23, 2023

Location: David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium (Lawrence, Kansas)

Kickoff: 1:30 p.m.

TV: ESPN

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

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. Follow Mitch’s coverage of BYU in the Big 12 Conference on X and Threads: @Mitch_Harper.

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Will BYU Slow Down Kansas QB Jalon Daniels?