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BYU’s quarterback competition might be heating up

Slovis will have to “earn” the starting role back from junior college transfer Jake Retzlaff

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Kedon Slovis (10) as BYU hosts Texas Tech, NCAA football in Provo on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023.

BYU football coach Kalani Sitake wouldn’t commit to starting quarterback Kedon Slovis this week, even if the fifth-year senior is cleared to play against Iowa State.

“You don’t just become the starter by appointment only and they are anointed the starter and that is it for the rest of your life,” Sitake said. “That’s not how it works.”

Sitake said the program will decide between starting Slovis or backup Jake Retzlaff based on two factors.

The first is whether Slovis, whose throwing arm was injured last week, is healthy enough to actually play. Second, if Slovis is healthy he will still have to win back the starter role from Retzlaff, who went 24-of-42 for 210 yards against West Virginia.

Slovis hadn’t thrown for more than 200 yards in his last three starts.

“Well, everyone who is coming off of injury, they just don’t jump into the starting role,” Sitake said. “You have to earn the right to get that back. So competition still continues.

“... That doesn’t get settled by just the training room clearing you. We want to play the best guy. If he is cleared, let’s see how far he is cleared. Is he cleared just to be on the field as a player? Or can he throw the ball and make the plays we actually need the quarterback to make?”

Sitake pointed to a different starter, LJ Martin, who also lost his starting role after being injured. Martin has been practicing, Sitake said, but hasn’t played because running back Aidan Robbins has been better.

“That’s how it works,” Sitake said. “If [wide receiver] Keanu Hill comes back and he is not able to be at a higher level than what we are getting from [receivers] Parker [Kingston] and those guys, that’s how it works. That’s how we run the program.”

Sitake said the decision to sit or start Slovis will likely be made before Wednesday.

“There comes a point where you see who gives us the best chance,” Sitake said. “Who is going to make the throws we are asking them to do? That usually happens right around Tuesday when we have an idea.”