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Despite BYU’s struggles, Jaren Hall making his mark

Cougars QB continues to climb the BYU record book heading into tough game at Liberty Saturday

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BYU quarterback Jaren Hall escapes a Baylor defender during game against the Bears at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo.

BYU quarterback Jaren Hall scrambles against Baylor at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022. Despite the Cougars’ recent downturn, Hall continues to play at a high level.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Jaren Hall isn’t a perfect quarterback and his fingerprints are on a number of mistakes during BYU’s two-game skid, but his performance at Liberty on Saturday could push him into the third tier of quarterback lore in program history.

During Arkansas’ field day last week at LaVell Edwards Stadium, Hall quietly threw for a career high 356 yards and three touchdowns. He needs 209 more passing yards at Liberty (1:30 p.m., ESPNU) to pass Virgil Carter and crack into the top 15 all-time at BYU.

Hall needs 915 more yards to pass Hall of Famer Gifford Nielsen and Tanner Mangum is within reach at No. 13 by the season’s end — just behind Taysom Hill and Steve Sarkisian.

The second tier includes Zach Wilson, Marc Wilson, Steve Young, Kevin Feterik and John Walsh. They each threw for 7,652 yards or more over three seasons of consistent work. Hall will need another season to bust into that group.

The first tier of legends stand alone with Robbie Bosco, Jim McMahon, John Beck, Max Hall and the all-time passing leader Ty Detmer with his untouchable 15,031 yards and 121 touchdowns.

Still, Saturday is significant for Hall because of what he’s doing on the short end of collegiate starts (19) and against more Power Five defenses (12) than any of his predecessors — including Detmer, McMahon, Young and Bosco — ever faced.

Some of his 4,917 yards came against teams that won the Big 12 (Baylor) and Pac-12 (Utah) championships last year. In addition, Hall picked up a number of yards on the road against the likes of Washington State, USC and Oregon. His seven P5 wins are the most in school history with Stanford still on the schedule in late November.

Should he decide to return for his final season of eligibility, Hall could face another ten and possibly 11 P5 opponents in 2023 as BYU enters the Big 12.

The junior from Spanish Fork has also thrown 38 career touchdown passes. He needs 13 more over the next six games to leap Mangum, Hill, Gary Sheide and Carter into 13th all-time.

Hall isn’t perfect and he isn’t completely healthy either. Playing with a throwing shoulder that was banged up by Utah State, his interception on the first play against Notre Dame and another interception in the second quarter against Arkansas both proved costly. 

Despite the 17-point defeat, Hall looked healthier against the Razorbacks and appears set for the stretch run against four consecutive non-P5 opponents before facing Stanford and a possible bowl game.

There are plenty of excuses available to explain away BYU’s 4-3 record, including the injuries that have adjusted Hall’s running backs and receivers rotation on a weekly basis and a defense that is allergic to third-down stops. To his credit, he never mentions them, saying only “I need to get better.”

Nothing comes easy in college football and Liberty (6-1) is vowing to put up a fight on Saturday in what the Flames are calling the biggest (and sold out) game in the history of their school. This will be a test of Hall’s most valuable skill — leadership.

Notre Dame and Arkansas left BYU wounded both physically and emotionally. It will be Hall’s job to rally the troops and lead a determined march through Lynchburg, Virginia, in the same way he is moving up the record books — destined to leave his impressive mark on history no matter when he plays his last game.

Dave McCann is a contributor to the Deseret News and is the studio host for “BYU Sports Nation Game Day,” “The Post Game Show,” “After Further Review” and play-by-play announcer for BYUtv. He is also co-host of “Y’s Guys” at ysguys.com. 

Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Jaren Hall (3) comes off the field after the Cougars’ loss to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022.

BYU quarterback Jaren Hall exits the field after the Cougars’ loss to the Notre Dame at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022. The Cougars signal caller has been impressive this season.

Spenser Heaps, Deseret News