BYU QB Competition Continues Entering Oklahoma State Week

Nov 20, 2023, 8:21 PM

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PROVO, Utah – BYU football has a quarterback competition entering the final week of the regular season.

Kedon Slovis or Jake Retzlaff, who will it be getting the start to try and lead BYU to its sixth win that clinches bowl eligibility and ends a four-game losing streak?

“I think going into this week, it’s, who’s going to help us put points on the board, extend drives, convert first downs and that’s what the goal is going to be,” said BYU head coach Kalani Sitake during his Monday press conference.

Kalani Sitake wants competition at QB

Last week, Retzlaff got the start against the nationally ranked-Oklahoma Sooners. It was his third consecutive start since Slovis was ruled out due to shoulder and elbow injuries on his throwing arm. Retzlaff had a productive day, going 15-of-26 for 173 yards and two touchdowns. But he was part of three costly turnovers that sunk BYU’s hopes of pulling off the upset.

It was the second straight week Retzlaff had a devastating turnover that hurt BYU’s chances of winning. Against Iowa State, the first offensive snap resulted in an interception to the Cyclones.

Still, Retzlaff’s ability to run has opened up BYU’s ground attack, which was among the worst in the nation until last week against the Sooners. BYU rushed for a season-high 217 yards against the Sooners.

In his press conference on Monday, Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy discussed his thoughts on BYU and referred to the Cougars as “an option” team. BYU rolled out some new looks with Retzlaff against OU that they haven’t run at any point earlier this year. It was a mixed bag of results, but BYU’s offense showed life in a far different offensive look with Retzlaff compared to Slovis.

So that creates a competition this week and Kalani Sitake isn’t ruling out the possibility of playing both.

“Kedon hasn’t been healthy. He’s been practicing; they’ve been competing against each other. Whoever gives us the best chance will be the guy taking the first snap. It’s not to say that the other one is eliminated from being in the game; that’s just where we’re at right now.”

BYU football players have to “earn the right” to play

Earlier this month, Sitake said that Slovis had to “earn the right” to be BYU’s starting quarterback again. He shared similar comments again in his presser.

“You have to prove it on the field, guys. We have to see it, so I know guys are playing banged up; we have a lot of guys playing banged up, they have to compete with the guys on the depth chart to earn the right to be on the field. So whenever there’s a change-up in the starting position or the depth chart, it is because guys have earned their spot. Guys that have dropped, whether it’s production or whether it’s health. That’s all factors in us making the decision.”

Retzlaff has passed for 487 yards, three touchdowns to three interceptions, and has completed 51.6% of his attempts. Slovis, in eight starts this season, has passed for 1,716 yards, 12 touchdowns to six interceptions.

Kedon Slovis will practice all week

Saturday could serve as the last game of Slovis’ college football career if BYU doesn’t get the win and reach a bowl game.

“He’ll be practicing this week,” Sitake said of Slovis’ availability leading up to Oklahoma State. “In terms of [being] fully healthy, there’s a bunch of guys on the team that aren’t at 100%. But maybe 90% gets it done. We settle it on the field. That’s why we do it. We settle the competition and who plays the best by what we do on the field, and like I said, that’s the only way I know how to do it.”

On the flip side, Retzlaff still has two years of eligibility remaining and Saturday could prove as another opportunity to earn valuable playing time in an effort to try and have the inside track at contending for the starting role in 2024.

BYU vs. No. 21 Oklahoma State

Date: Saturday, November 25, 2023

Location: Boone Pickens Stadium

Kickoff: 1:30 p.m. (MT)


Radio: KSL NewsRadio (102.7 FM, 1160 AM)

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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BYU QB Competition Continues Entering Oklahoma State Week