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Traveling man: BYU's Slovis now hit at third school

by Bob Holt | September 13, 2023 at 7:19 a.m.
BYU quarterback Kedon Slovis (10) throws during an NCAA college football game against Sam Houston State Saturday, Sept. 2, 2023, in Provo, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

FAYETTEVILLE -- BYU has a new starting quarterback with plenty of big-time game experience.

Kedon Slovis, a fifth-year senior who has started 39 games at Southern Cal, Pittsburgh and BYU, will lead the Cougars' offense in Saturday's 6:30 p.m. game at the University of Arkansas.

Slovis, 6-3 and 215 pounds, has career totals of 878 completions in 1,333 attempts (65.9%) for 10,445 yards and 72 touchdowns with 34 interceptions.

After playing three seasons for the Trojans and one season at Pittsburgh, Slovis transferred a second time to replace Jaren Hall at BYU.

Hall could have been a three-year starter this season, but he opted to enter the NFL Draft and made the Minnesota Vikings' roster as a fifth-round pick after passing for 6,174 yards and 52 touchdowns with the Cougars.

"We just wanted to look into the portal and see if there was anyone that could bring some veteran leadership, and [Slovis] was the right guy," BYU Coach Kalani Sitake said. "He fit our program, our culture, perfectly. And he happened to be a really good player that's been really good for us."

Slovis has completed 42 of 65 passes for 493 yards and 4 touchdowns with 1 interception in wins over Sam Houston State (14-0) and Southern Utah (41-16).

After Slovis passed for 145 yards in the opener, he got untracked against Southern Utah and went 22 of 32 for 348 yards and 4 touchdowns.

It was the most touchdown passes for Slovis since he had five against UCLA in 2020.

"I think we just came out and played better and executed," Slovis said. "That's the team that I have seen all fall camp, and that's the offense that we are.

"We still [left] a lot of plays out there and yards on the field. It wasn't a perfect game by any means, but I'm proud of the guys, and when adversity hit, I thought we did a pretty good job executing."

Adversity hit in the first quarter when Slovis took a shot from a blitzing linebacker and threw an interception that gave Southern Utah the ball at BYU's 49 with the Thunderbirds leading 3-0.

BYU's defense forced a punt and Slovis led a 91-yard touchdown drive capped by a 20-yard touchdown pass to tight end Issac Rex.

Slovis connected with Rex for a 65-yard gain in the second quarter to set up a touchdown that pushed the Cougars' halftime lead to 27-3.

"That was probably one of the best throws I've ever seen in my time here," Rex, a fifth-year senior with 22 career touchdown receptions, said of Slovis hitting him in triple coverage. "We rewatched it back in the locker room, and I finally noticed how there were three guys around, but Kedon put it in the perfect spot and I was able to go get it.

"The safety was playing pretty low, so I kept it high. I was just focused on the ball. That was quite the throw. It was awesome."

Slovis also threw touchdown passes to Keanu Hill, Darius Lassiter and Chase Roberts.

"He's handled it great, coming in and getting to know everybody in the locker room," Hill said of Slovis. "He's been playing good teams all of his time on the collegiate level. He's seen a lot of things."

Slovis accounted for five touchdowns against Southern Utah, including a 6-yard run. It was the first rushing touchdown of his career.

"Now he is getting a lot of confidence running the ball," Sitake said. "I think that was a good pull that he did in the game to get a rushing touchdown.

"I do like him throwing the ball, though. He is really clean, and we need to find ways to compliment what he can do on offense so that we aren't predictable and aren't just relying on his arm."

Slovis took over as USC's starting quarterback as a freshman in the second game of 2019 following JT Daniels' knee injury and finished with 3,502 passing yards and 30 touchdowns.

Slovis passed for 7,576 yards and 58 touchdowns in three seasons with the Trojans, but he transferred to Pittsburgh in 2022 when Lincoln Riley left Oklahoma to take over at USC.

Riley brought along quarterback Caleb Williams, who starred as a freshman at Oklahoma and won the Heisman Trophy last season.

Pittsburgh had an 8-4 record with Slovis starting, but he had career lows of 2,397 passing yards and 10 touchdowns, matched his career-high with 9 interceptions and entered the transfer portal.

"Kedon's a really smart quarterback, and he has the physical talent and ability to back it up, so I think that's what makes him really good," BYU defensive end Tyler Batty said. "He's played a lot of football, he's seen a lot of looks, and he knows the game inside and out.

"He's just a pro honestly. He's really good. He can break things down, make the right reads, and deliver when he needs to.

"It was challenging all through spring ball and fall camp playing against him ... I'm just excited for what the offense is going to be able to do this season."

After BYU plays at Arkansas, the Cougars begin conference play as a new Big 12 member with a road trip to Kansas. Other Big 12 opponents are Texas, Oklahoma, TCU, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Cincinnati, Iowa State and West Virginia.

"It's going to be a new challenge every week and there's going to be some games where we play some really good defenses and I think that's why I am here," Slovis said. "I am up for the challenge and I am excited for the challenge.

"I'd take the guys on our side of the field with me anywhere and against anybody. I love our offense, scheme and players.

"It's a great challenge and it'll start to ramp up here and getting into conference play."

Sitake said if Slovis has time to throw, he'll make plays.

"I love coaching him and having him on this team," Sitake said. "He's a great leader for us. It's been an honor for me to have him here.

"I just wish I had him here for even longer. We'll make the most of what we've got, the time that we have with him."

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