BYU head coach Kalani Sitake was noncommittal about quarterback Jaren Hall’s status for the bowl game this week.
Unlike past weeks this season, he didn’t say Hall would be fine or that the two-year starter had to play. Instead, he talked about hope.
“Jaren is banged up,” Sitake said. “He is not out for the game. … Hopefully we can get Jaren through this and get him on the field.”
Hall injured his ankle in the second half of the Stanford game two weeks ago. For the first time all season, Hall couldn’t play through the pain and he was taken out for the entire fourth quarter of a close game.
Afterward, Sitake indicated the X-rays on his ankle came back negative. Immediately after the contest, Hall said he was fine and would “100%” play in the Cougars’ bowl game.
But with a short turnaround for a Dec. 17 bowl game, it might not be enough time to heal. This week, Sitake seemed to be preparing for the possibility that Hall would not be available.
And behind Hall, the options are inexperienced to say the least.
The main backup to Hall all season was Jacob Conover. However, Conover entered his name in the transfer portal on Friday and will leave the program. No other quarterback on the roster has taken a snap at BYU.
Down in the depth chart all year has been Cade Fennegan, Nick Billoups, and Sol-Jay Maiava-Peters. Sitake said all three are taking reps in practice this week to earn the backup, and potentially starting, position for the bowl game.
Fennegan played at Boise State as a freshman before he transferred to BYU. He has 28 career passing attempts.
Billoups and Maiva-Peters are guys who are dual-threat options and can run. Billoups also has a reputation for having a strong arm.
“What I saw so far, I liked what all of them have done in practice thus far,” Sitake said. “I think they have really good coaching. I like the way [offensive coordinator] Aaron Roderick coaches them and [analyst] Matt Mitchell coaches them. So they will be ready.”
Notably, Fennegan had his own foot injury this year that kept him off the active roster recently.
“We are excited if Jaren can’t go to see those guys step up,” tight end Isaac Rex said on BYUtv on Monday. “... We will see what happens in these next couple of weeks of practice.”
While Hall has not been ruled out, the tenor around this injury has been different than the shoulder injury he dealt with in October.
Unlike in October, Hall said the decision to pull him in the Stanford game was “mutual” between him and the coaching staff. Before, against Notre Dame, Hall continued to ask to play.
There is still a week before the bowl game. But for an ankle injury, it might not be enough time.
“If we need to, the [backups] will be ready for the game,” Sitake finished.