Anyone who has spent any time around BYU quarterback Jaren Hall knows he is a perfectionist.
He’s not easily satisfied.
He doesn’t stand for less-than-stellar efforts.
So when Hall took a few minutes to talk about how the Cougars’ recently completed preseason training camp went, he didn’t paint as rosy a picture as perhaps some BYU fans were hoping for.
“Some of the stuff, we use as fuel, for sure. But other than that, all you do is let it bounce off your ears, and that’s it. You don’t worry about it.” — BYU quarterback Jaren Hall on the outside noise.
“We’re not there yet,” Hall said. “We still have a lot of improving to do.”
Hall wasn’t just talking about the BYU offense; He was referring to himself as well.
“It definitely took a couple of weeks to kinda get the game-like energy and focus going, I would say,” Hall said last Tuesday after a no-tackling scrimmage at LaVell Edwards Stadium. “All the parts have been here all along. We knew that.
“But I think being able to find a way to mimic the energy of the game, preparing for the game, while we were at practice, and then practice snaps, has been our focus,” Hall continued. “Finally, this week we made a great stride in that area and are starting to feel good all around the ball.”
Ranked No. 25 in the preseason Associated Press Top 25 poll, BYU faces a difficult opener in 2022. The Cougars and Hall play at USF on Saturday (2 p.m. MDT, ESPNU) in a rematch of the Cougars’ 35-27 win over the Bulls in Provo last year.
Hall didn’t play in that game — Baylor Romney filled in admirably — due to a rib injury he sustained in BYU’s 27-17 win over Arizona State the previous week. But he is familiar with South Florida. Filling in for an injured Zach Wilson, Hall got his first career start in the Oct. 12, 2019, game in Tampa, but wasn’t able to finish, due to a concussion.
USF took a 27-23 win that day, despite BYU having dominated statistically.
Revenge is the farthest thing from his mind, however.
“Long time ago,” he said. “New season, new team, new opponent.”
Hall said he’s happy with the number of reps he got over the course of three scrimmages in camp and pronounced himself “100% healthy and ready to go.”
As far as the mountains of expectations being heaped on Hall and this team, the fifth-year junior who almost certainly just wrapped up his last fall camp as a Cougar said he and his teammates are filtering out the poison and focusing on proving whatever doubters there are wrong.
“Some of the stuff, we use as fuel, for sure,” he said. “But other than that, all you do is let it bounce off your ears, and that’s it. You don’t worry about it.”
Hall said the ability to not get too full of themselves speaks to their maturity and leadership.
“I just think we have been through it too much to let it affect us,” he said. “Ultimately, at the end of the day we just gotta go play and just be ourselves. So whatever people say outside of our team, it really doesn’t matter because it has no effect on us.”
Hall said he was a big Russell Wilson fan growing up and has watched a lot of tape of the former Seattle Seahawks quarterback, now with the Denver Broncos. More recently, he’s worked with former BYU QB John Beck and local QB guru Dustin Smith of QB Elite and studied a variety of styles.
“Instead of trying to be one guy, I just try to be myself, but also see if I can pick up a thing here or there from a handful of quarterbacks,” he said.
Hall threw for 2,434 yards last year and had a passer efficiency rating of 158.48. He threw just five interceptions on 266 attempts. His chief goal is to pile up wins, he said.
“For me, fall camp has been about rounding out everything and getting everything to click together,” he said. “Obviously, as a quarterback, you want to focus on throwing the ball accurately and on time, and that has been a big emphasis for me.
“Over the last couple of weeks, it is about managing the game, managing the flow and energy and things. That’s kinda been the focus.”
Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Aaron Roderick said he hasn’t talked a lot about what Hall was able to do pre-snap last year, but figured it is probably time.
“He gets us in the right play very often. We did more audibles a year ago than we have ever done. He gets us in the right plays,” Roderick said, noting that the 26-17 win over Utah happened largely because of what Hall was able to see and change.
“He was checking a lot of plays, getting us into the right run plays. He does a lot of things at the line of scrimmage for us that give us a chance for success,” Roderick continued. “We don’t always have to call the perfect play because Jaren can get us in it. I would say that is the area he has improved the most.”