BYU’s Jaren Hall laments ‘lost opportunity’ against Notre Dame, says he wasn’t limited by injury
Cougars’ star quarterback attempted just 17 passes as BYU fell 28-20 to Notre Dame at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas
LAS VEGAS — About the only person at Allegiant Stadium on Saturday night who didn’t think BYU quarterback Jaren Hall looked himself was Hall himself.
The Cougars (4-2) didn’t get the usual outstanding performance from their fifth-year junior QB and fell 28-20 to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in front of a sellout crowd of 62,742.
Hall got dinged up in BYU’s 38-26 win over Utah State last week, and although BYU managed to keep it quiet that he was suffering from a shoulder issue, word spread before the game that he wasn’t quite right, and he spent a lot of time with trainers in pregame warmups stretching a lot and throwing very little.
“No, no, no. Contrary to popular belief, no shoulder injury. I feel good.” — BYU quarterback Jaren Hall.
But after attempting just 17 passes, completing nine, for 120 yards and two touchdowns, Hall insisted he was OK.
“No, no, no,” he said in the postgame news conference, when asked if he felt limited against the Irish. “Contrary to popular belief, no shoulder injury. I feel good.”
Asked why he attempted just 17 passes, a season-low, Hall said it wasn’t because the defense didn’t get off the field enough to provide the offense more opportunities. BYU ran just 46 plays, to Notre Dame’s 73.
“It had nothing to do with (the defense) and everything to do with us on offense,” he said. “When you get the first drive of the game, first play, and throw an interception, that is on the quarterback, that is on me.”
It was Hall’s first interception, and BYU’s first turnover, since the season opener at USF.
Later in the first half, Hall was sacked in the end zone for a safety — he had time to throw, but a couple receivers got tangled up and he didn’t have any options.
“All that stuff is on me. I am the quarterback, with the ball in my hands,” he said of the offense’s worst performance of the season.
“So it is not on our defense, and then you don’t get a snap pretty much the whole second quarter, just another odd quarter for us, in the first half. It is just not sustainable and you can’t score points that way and it is just really hard to win games.”
Asked for a second time about his condition, Hall slightly acknowledged that he’s not completely healthy.
“Everybody is dinged up. Everybody has their thing. I felt 100%. Earlier in the week, a little different story, but tonight I felt great. So yeah,” he said.
Head coach Kalani Sitake said he didn’t think Hall was 100% but it was still the best option to play him.
“I think he was banged up,” Sitake said. “We need to go back and figure out what our game plan was and see what we can do (better). I thought he made some really good throws, especially in the second half.
“We will see how he feels after this.”
Receiver Kody Epps, who caught four passes for 100 yards and two touchdowns, said Hall didn’t appear limited to him.
In the second half, Hall almost pulled off more magic, boosting his passer rating to 139.3. On the 4th and 1 play that Notre Dame stuffed in the fourth quarter, stopping Lopini Katoa cold, Hall said it was the “same play” that was called before the timeout.
“We have that play for a short yardage play in that situation. We have run it before this year, and it has worked. We just didn’t make it work,” Hall said.
The Cougars also didn’t get the ball to star receiver Puka Nacua enough. He had just one catch, for 10 yards, and dropped a ball on a crucial 3rd and 7 play in the fourth quarter after Max Tooley picked off Drew Pyne.
Nacua was held on the play by a Notre Dame defensive back, but flags didn’t fly.
Both teams were penalized just once in the clean, hard-hitting game.
Hall wishes the Cougars could have a couple plays back, like that one and the fourth-down flop, calling the contest an opportunity lost for BYU.
“The opportunity was there for us. We just let it slip through our fingers. Just didn’t make enough plays, so it was very frustrating,” Hall said.
“It breaks your heart. We love to win and play this game, but sometimes you lose and you come up short. But we gotta battle back and that will be a test of what we are made of as a team.”