Kalani Sitake says Kedon Slovis will be BYU’s starting QB vs. Oklahoma — if he’s healthy
Jake Retzlaff has started the last two games as Slovis has recovered from elbow and shoulder injuries
There aren’t a lot of positive things to talk about these days regarding the BYU football team, which has suffered three straight blowout losses and is still looking for that elusive sixth win to get eligible to play in a bowl game.
But discussing the quarterback situation never gets old.
“I am not in Kedon’s body, but I can tell you that if he’s ready to go, and if he is full strength, then he is our guy, usually.” — BYU coach Kalani Sitake
Sitake said during his weekly press briefing Monday that if — and it is a big if — Slovis is healthy he will get the nod vs. the Sooners (8-2) at 10 a.m. MST Saturday in Provo.
“I am not in Kedon’s body, but I can tell you that if he’s ready to go, and if he is full strength, then he is our guy, usually.” Sitake said.
Sitake said Slovis practiced last week, and was available to play in the 45-13 loss to Iowa State in an emergency situation. The graduate transfer warmed up with the other five QBs before the game, but only made short throws.
“He is still banged up, not 100% yet,” Sitake said. “Last week, we felt like Jake gave us the better chance (to win). This week, we will kinda see what it looks like and let you know.”
Offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick said during his “Coordinators’ Corner” program that Slovis is “progressing,” but “not fully healthy yet.”
Asked if that means that Retzlaff is the starter for the foreseeable future, Roderick replied, “I would expect that, yes.”
Roderick said Slovis was “already dealing with a couple of things, and then in the Texas game (a 35-6 loss) he had an injury in that game that is the one that is really keeping him out right now.”
Retzlaff struggled to throw the ball effectively against the Cyclones, and was just 10 of 27 for 104 yards, with a touchdown and two interceptions. His first throw of the game was picked off, setting the visitors up for an easy opening touchdown.
That came on the heels of a strong game against West Virginia in which Retzlaff played turnover-free.
“I think that’s why these reps he is getting right now are really important. We are finding out a lot about him, and still believe in him very much, but would like to see if we can play a little better this week,” Roderick said. “I thought he did a nice job in the West Virginia game. And then this week probably wasn’t his best. Second start, going against a really good defense. So we need to give him time.”
Retzlaff and the Cougars were without star receiver Darius Lassiter in both games, due to an undisclosed injury.
Sitake said Monday that there is “a good chance” that Lassiter will return this week against Oklahoma, which is tied for second place in the Big 12 standings.
“I do want him on the field. … And I am excited about his return,” Sitake said.
As for the plethora of defensive players who have missed time recently, the reports is not as favorable. Sitake said starting defensive linemen John Nelson and Caden Haws haven’t practiced yet since their injuries and probably won’t play.
Gunner supreme Marcus McKenzie also remains out, while defensive end John Henry Daley has appeared in four games and won’t play again unless BYU gets to a bowl game because he wants to preserve his redshirt year.
On the subject of practice, the Cougars did not hold a formal one Monday because it is their NCAA-required civic engagement day, which has to be held within 15 days of Election Day.
Sitake said they’ve planned to hold it on this day for months now, and it has nothing to do with the opponent or how they’ve played recently.
“And you can’t use a day you usually take off, so for us, everyone knows that we take Sundays off. So you can’t say that is our day off. … It has to be a day that you normally would use for football operations and practice and meetings and things like that. So we will honor it.”
Players were free to conduct their own practices or workouts, but coaches were not allowed to be present.
Cougars on the air
No. 14 Oklahoma (5-2, 8-2)
at BYU (2-5, 5-5)
Saturday, 10 a.m. MST
LaVell Edwards Stadium
Radio: 102.7 FM/1160 AM
“So I trust our guys to get stuff done. But we can’t organize anything. The players have to do their part. I can’t instruct them to do stuff,” Sitake said. “Thankfully we have players that love the game and love this matchup and are excited to get going today.”
As was mentioned earlier, kickoff time for BYU-Oklahoma is at 10 a.m. MST, matching the earliest known start at LES in 20 years. BYU lost 21-14 to New Mexico on Nov. 13, 2004, in a game that also kicked off at 10 a.m.
Sitake said the players will get a 6 a.m. wakeup call Saturday morning because they try to eat a meal three and a half hours before kickoff.
“It is going to be weird going home after the game and having the sun out,” he said.