Kedon Slovis would have liked to have thrown a touchdown pass for BYU before an interception, but that’s about the only thing that went wrong Saturday for the graduate transfer quarterback from USC and Pittsburgh.
Slovis bounced back in a big way after Week 1’s mediocre outing against Sam Houston, and threw for 348 yards and four touchdowns in the 41-16 win over gritty Southern Utah on Saturday in front of 60,834 fans at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
“That was probably one of the best throws I’ve ever seen in my time here. 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. … That was quite the throw. It was awesome.” — BYU tight end Isaac Rex.
“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.”
Slovis completed 22 of 32 passes, with the one interception. The 348 passing yards was the ninth-most in his 40 career starts and his passer rating of 195.1 was the sixth-best of his career.
“If you give Kedon the time to throw, he can do it,” coach Kalani Sitake said. “We need to find ways to keep him upright, because when he is there, and can throw and deliver the ball, all within the right timing, he is really good. Now he is getting a lot of confidence running the ball, too.”
Ironically, Slovis had never rushed for a touchdown in his lengthy college career — until he got to BYU. Now he’s rushed for three in the last two games, adding a 6-yarder to the two TD runs in last week’s 14-0 win over Sam Houston.
Of course, BYU didn’t bring Slovis in to replace dual threat QB Jaren Hall and run the ball as well as Hall did, but that little element to his game is a nice surprise.
Overall, the Cougars’ rushing attack has been disappointing, and Slovis knows that will have to improve if BYU hopes to stay with the likes of Arkansas (next week) and some of the Big 12 powers like Texas and Oklahoma.
“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,” he 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.”
In another irony, Slovis’ best throw in the game Saturday didn’t result in a touchdown. He somehow found tight end Isaac Rex streaking down the middle of the field in triple coverage, and Rex got to the 5-yard line before getting tackled.
“I got pretty tired on that one,” Rex said of the 65-yard catch and run.
Rex finished with four catches for 112 yards and a TD, a 20-yarder from Slovis. The fifth-year junior now has 22 career touchdown receptions, tied with the late Gordon Hudson for most by a BYU tight end.
“That was probably one of the best throws I’ve ever seen in my time here,” Rex said. “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. … That was quite the throw. It was awesome.”
Slovis’ other TD throws went to Keanu Hill, Darius Lassiter and Deion Smith. Hill returned to action after missing last week’s game with an ankle injury; Fellow receiver Kody Epps didn’t play for the second straight week, but Sitake said the sophomore should be able to play next week against Arkansas.
Lassiter caught five passes for 73 yards, while Chase Roberts caught six passes for 84 yards. Roberts was flagged for “illegal touching” after catching an 18-yard catch for an apparent first down on BYU’s first possession.
On BYU’s second possession, Slovis was hit by a blitzing linebacker while throwing and the ball fluttered to SUU’s Quadir Lockett-Smith for the interception, Slovis’ first as a Cougar.
“I think we were doing a pretty good job. We were about to convert two third-and-longs and we just had the penalty that kind of took us off the field,” Slovis said of the start.
“I felt pretty confident in the offense as a whole and things just started working out for us. We kept chugging away. Shooters shoot and eventually the shots start to fall.”