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Kedon Slovis Will Need To ‘Earn The Right’ To Return As BYU Starting QB

Nov 6, 2023, 4:19 PM

Kedon Slovis, BYU Football, Quarterback Competition...

Kedon Slovis will have to compete to regain the starting BYU football quarterback spot even if cleared from team doctors. (Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

(Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

PROVO, Utah – Whether Kedon Slovis is healthy or not this week, there will be a quarterback debate for BYU football.

BYU turns the page on a tough 37-7 loss at West Virginia last week towards a home tilt against Iowa State on Saturday night. The big storyline for BYU heading into the matchup with the Cyclones is the quarterback spot. Who will start at quarterback for BYU this week?

Will the starter be graduate senior Kedon Slovis or Jake Retzlaff, who has one career start under his belt?

The quick answer, let there be a competition to decide who starts.

Kalani Sitake weighs in on BYU QB situation for Iowa State week

Kedon Slovis is currently in a “day-to-day” status with his injuries. KSL Sports asked Kalani Sitake via Zoom on Monday if Slovis would return to the starting quarterback spot if team doctors clear him.

“Everybody that’s coming off an injury they just don’t jump into a starting role. You have to earn the right to get that back. So competition still continues,” said BYU head coach Kalani Sitake.

Sitake then pointed out a current example of a previous starter having to work his way back to the starting lineup from injury.

“So you look at like LJ Martin, he’s been practicing,” said Sitake. “But he hasn’t been performing better than Aidan (Robbins).”

Training room doesn’t settle a QB competition

The eighth-year head coach, who is entering his 100th game as BYU’s headman, circled that comparison back to Slovis at quarterback.

“Until we see the competition, who earns it, that doesn’t get settled by just the training room clearing you. We want to play the best guy and so if he’s cleared, then let’s see how far he’s clear. Is he clear just to be on the field as a player? Or can he throw the ball and make the plays that we actually need our quarterback to make.”

Kedon Slovis or Jake Retzlaff?

Jake Retzlaff, in his first career action in an FBS game for Slovis, who is dealing with multiple injuries, passed for 210 yards and was 24-of-42. Perhaps just as important, Retzlaff didn’t throw any interceptions during a 30-point loss to West Virginia.

What’s also noteworthy with Retzlaff is that he will have two years of eligibility after this season. Slovis, whether he plays or not, he’s gone after this season. If Retzlaff shines in losing efforts in the final three games, BYU could use that as momentum heading into winter conditioning and spring ball for next year.

Since Big 12 play began, Kedon Slovis has taken numerous hits due to poor play from BYU’s offensive line. He was banged up at the end of the Kansas game. His shoulder was quickly examined during a blowout at TCU, then the loss at Texas saw him take hit after hit against one of the best defensive lines in college football.

Retzlaff was asked on Saturday night after the loss to West Virginia if he felt he did enough to be the starter for the remainder of the season.

“I don’t know. Maybe, maybe not. That’s not my decision,” Retzlaff said. “I’ll just go back to the tape and dissect what I did and learn from that. I think that’s A-Rod decision at the end of the day. So, you know, I just know that I’m gonna go out there and play my hardest and play my heart out every week. Whatever that comes to, I’ll live with that.”

Three guaranteed opportunities left

There are only three guaranteed opportunities remaining for BYU this season. Time is ticking on a season that began with a 4-1 record and has now stalled at 5-4. If they don’t turn things around in a hurry, they could be staying home for the holidays for only the second time since Kalani Sitake became the head coach in 2016.

“You don’t just become a starter by appointment only and then they are anointed the starter and then that’s it for the rest of your life,” said Sitake. “That’s not how it works.”

Sitake said to the media that “around Tuesday” is when they have an idea in a game week of when they will be able to gauge what direction they will move at quarterback.

Slovis is one of many BYU players on the injury list this week heading into the Iowa State game. BYU wide receiver Kody Epps took a hard hit in the first half on Saturday that forced him to leave the game. Sitake noted that Epps is “looking pretty positive in the testing,” and they will find out more about his availability on Wednesday or Thursday.

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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Kedon Slovis Will Need To ‘Earn The Right’ To Return As BYU Starting QB