BYU is on the clock.

Saturday’s 105-play scrimmage was in front of an empty LaVell Edwards Stadium. Fast-forward three weeks and it will be a completely different scene as a full house will welcome the Cougars into the new season against Sam Houston (Sept. 2, 8:15 p.m. MDT, FS1).

“It feels like it’s closer,” said BYU football coach Kalani Sitake. “The guys were excited to be out here (at LES), especially the newcomers. We did it in the spring, but now we know this is weeks away. The guys are hungry for it.”

Quarterback Kedon Slovis will make his first start at LES since starting for USC when the Trojans played at BYU in 2019. In between was a one-year stop at Pittsburgh. He transferred to BYU in January.

“It’s good to come into the stadium and play in front of the bleachers and also to get comfortable playing on the grass,” Slovis said. “It feels different with the space around you. It’s just good to play catch in there.”

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Saturday’s scrimmage was played under bright sunshine. The home opener will be under the bright lights. Each setting brings a different kind of heat.

“There is an emotional aspect that we are going to play our games here,” Slovis said. “We want to play well here. We have a couple more weeks and we need it. We are not ready, but I’m happy where we are at.”

Linebacker Ben Bywater sat out spring practice after shoulder surgery. To be running free and hitting again at LES has him licking his chops for Sept. 2.

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“It’s been good to get back and shake the rust off,” Bywater said. “It’s crazy how fast it’s coming. Sam Houston is going to be dope. It’s gonna be fun to have the fans and the boys back together.”

Jay Hill is also 21 days from making his BYU debut as defensive coordinator. 

“We’ve done this long enough that it feels like we are playing tomorrow,” said the former Weber State head coach. “The next three weeks are going to fly by. We have a lot to work on, but we are doing a lot of things well. I can’t wait to play in this packed stadium in front of all our fans. It’s going to be awesome.”

Twenty-one days, and the clock is ticking.

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