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Realistic Expectations for New BYU QB Kedon Slovis

BYU transitions from the Jaren Hall era and turns to Kedon Slovis. What are some realistic expectations for the new Cougar QB?

NCAA Football: Duke at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

In the days leading up to last Christmas, BYU fans were wringing their hands about who would be their quarterback in 2023. Would Jaren Hall turn down the NFL Draft and make a surprising return? Is Cade Finnegan the guy? Who in the transfer portal could come to BYU’s rescue?

That knight in shining armor became Kedon Slovis, from Pittsburgh by way of USC. This immediately injected excitement in the fanbase and softened the blow of Jaren Hall’s departure.

Slovis comes in with four seasons of starting experience not just on the FBS level, but Power 5. He spent three seasons with the USC Trojans, where he started parts of all three years. He then transferred to Pitt ahead of the 2022 season, where he was the full-time starter.

Now, Slovis is the clear guy in Provo. BYU fans understandably have high hopes for him heading into the program’s first ever season in the Big 12. However, a word of caution would be not to get carried away with visions of Slovis holding the Heisman Trophy in December donning a royal blue custom tuxedo.

Let’s be clear, the results have been mixed for Slovis. In fact, the most recent results are the murkiest, with an uninspiring stat sheet during his year in Pittsburgh. He averaged 218 yards passing in 11 games, with a meager 10 touchdowns to nine interceptions. That kind of ratio is not going to get it done in 2023.

However, context is key. He switched schools with star Pitt receiver Jordan Addison, who caught passes for Kenny Pickett for the Panthers. Addison transferred to USC and became a first round pick in this past draft. The drop-off in talent for the receiving corps at Pitt when Slovis arrived was massive. It’s not unreasonable to expect BYU’s group of receivers this season to be more talented than the group Slovis had at Pitt.

Then there is the issue of the offensive line. According to Football Outsiders, Pitt’s offensive line ranked 41st in sack rate allowed while BYU’s ranked 18th.

It appears Slovis is getting an upgrade in receivers and offensive line around him from his 2022 campaign.

Now the question is, can he return to his form at USC, especially to the one back in 2019? He put up big numbers, ranking eighth in passer rating in all of college football, along with 12th in yards per attempt and 14th in touchdown passes. His TD/INT ratio of 30 to 9 was solid as well.

It’s likely fair to expect something below his 2019 numbers but much better than last year’s dud. He will have more talent around him than he did at Pitt last season. However, the USC teams he played on were busting at the seams with NFL talent. During that freshman season, he threw to guys named Michael Pittman Jr., Amon-Ra St. Brown, and Drake London, all of whom are on NFL rosters now.

Offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick has already proven to be something of a quarterback whisperer. His last two pupils at BYU, Zach Wilson and Jaren Hall, were drafted. There is no reason to believe Slovis cannot make a similar leap.

Slovis has a better career completion percentage than Jaren Hall, at 65.9 percent. His 167.6 passer rating in 2019 was better than Jaren Hall’s last season.

Slovis is bigger than both Wilson and Hall, at 6′ 3″ and 216 pounds. Hall checked in at 6’1”, 207 and Wilson at 6’2”, 214. Slovis has more of a true NFL frame. It will just be a matter of executing within Roderick’s system and connecting with receivers like Kody Epps, Keanu Hill, Chase Roberts, Darius Lassiter, and tight end Isaac Rex.

If Slovis is able to play a full 12 games for BYU in 2023, it’s reasonable to expect at least 3,000 passing yards with no worse than a 3:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio. The amount of wins BYU will have is not entirely up to him, as the defense must show vast improvement and the offensive line needs to remain solid against the toughest schedule in program history.

With BYU staring down the barrel of 10 Power 5 opponents on the schedule, who better to usher in that new era than a quarterback with 19 career wins against Power 5 opponents?