Kedon Slovis, the former USC and Pitt player, opened the year ranked fifth among all FBS quarterbacks with 10,118 passing yards in 38 games. Slovis (42-65-1, 493 yards, 4 TD) is completing 64.6% of his passes. He is No. 57 in QB efficiency at 145.56. Slovis has scored 3 of the Cougars’ 4 rushing touchdowns and averages 1.3 yards per carry due to sacks.
KJ Jefferson (31-42-0, 382 yards, 5 TD, 73.8% completions) is ranked 12th in FBS efficiency at 189.5. Jefferson (18 carries, 59 yards, 1 TD) ran more frequently than expected last week. He is responsible for 73 career touchdowns, second at UA behind Matt Jones (77). His 53 TD passes are tied for 4th. Jacolby Criswell (2-2-0, 28 yards, 1 TD) did not see action last week.
BYU big back Aidan Robbins (10-29), a 6-3, 240-pounder, is averaging a pedestrian 2.9 yards per carry. He piled up 1,011 yards and 9 TD at UNLV last year. Freshman LJ Martin (6-2, 205) is the team leader with 22 carries for 118 yards and a 5.4 ypc average. RS senior Deion Smith (10-24, 1), a 6-foot, 200-pounder, led Colorado with 393 rushing yards in 2022.
Arkansas will be without Raheim Sanders (15-42, 2 TD, 2.8 ypc), who rushed for 175 yards on 15 carries at BYU in 2022. AJ Green (19-104, 5.5 ypc) started last week and heated up late, along with Rashod Dubinion (13-51, 1 TD, 3.8 ypc). Dominique Johnson (10-22) had a key block on Dubinion’s short TD. Freshman Isaiah Augustave (4-20) has played in both games.
Kody Epps, who had 9 catches for a career-high 125 yards vs. UA last year, is likely to make his season debut in his return from shoulder surgery. Chase Roberts (11-126, 1 TD), Darius Lassiter (9-116, 1) and TE Isaac Rex (6-127, 1) have been top targets, along with Mason Fakahua (5-30) and Keanu Hill (3-41, 1) who had 4 catches for 61 yards vs. UA last year.
Andrew Armstrong (9-99, 3 TD) and Isaac TeSlaa (6-117, 1) have emerged as the Hogs’ top targets along with TE Luke Hasz (5-45). Jaedon Wilson (5-114, 1) had a key drop last week. The targets have not been plentiful for Isaiah Sategna (2-14), Tyrone Broden (1-3) and Daviion Dozier (1-14, 1). The TE group of Ty Washington, Nathan Bax, Francis Sherman and Var’keyes Gumms is awaiting targets.
The Cougars are one of 7 FBS teams that have not allowed a sack. All but 3 on the BYU 2-deep have redshirted, including 6-6, 325-pound LT Kingsley Suamataia, recruited by Sam Pittman as a UGA assistant, and 6-8, 330-pound RT Caleb Etienne. C Paul Maile is a 300-pound RS senior. The other starters are 6-4, 305-pound LG Weylin Lapuaho and 6-5, 305-pound RG Connor Pay.
Run fits were a huge topic this week. Veterans in LG Brady Latham and C Beaux Limmer and sophomore RT Patrick Kutas have held their spots. The coaches have given Andrew Chamblee and Devon Manuel looks at LT and Josh Braun and Ty’Kieast Crawford looks at RG. The Razorbacks average 3.4 yards per carry, not a healthy figure. Limmer has had one off-target snap per game in ’23.
SE Tyler Batty (8 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 sack, 3 hurries) has 22 career starts. Boise State transfers in DE Isaiah Bagnah (2, 1 hurry) and DT Jackson Cravens (3, 1 PBU) are starters, as is 315-pound nose Atunaisa Mahe (1, 1 PBU). Little Rock product Caden Haws (5, 1.5 TFL), a 13-game starter in 2022, has been productive again. Other reserves: Blake Mangelson (6) and John Nelson (1, 2 hurries).
A deep group is led by DTs Taurean Carter (7, 1.5 TFL, 1 sack, 1 hurry), Cam Ball (6), Keivie Rose (5, 2 TFL, 1.5 sacks), Eric Gregory (4, 1 hurry) and Anthony Booker (2, 1.5 TFL) and DEs Landon Jackson (6, 3 TFL, 1 sack, 1 hurry), Trajan Jeffcoat (3, 2, 1.5), John Morgan (3, 1, 1), Zach Williams (2), Nico Davillier (2) and Jashaud Stewart (2, 1 TFL). Jeffcoat is reigning SEC co-DL of week.
BYU sports a ton of veterans on the second level, including Ben Bywater (16, 1.5 TFL), the team’s tackle leader the last 2 years, 35-game starter and Utah State transfer AJ Vongphachanh (7, 3 hurries), and “Rover” Max Tooley (14), who has 50 college games. Isaiah Glasker (1), Chaz Ah You (1, 1 hurry) and Harrison Taggart (1 hurry, 1 blocked kick) all contribute.
Jaheim Thomas (20, 3.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks, 1 PBU) is the early team tackle leader, while Chris Paul (10, 1 sack) had a big second half last week after his targeting penalty suspension. Antonio Grier (3, 1 INT) notched a 25-yard pick 6 on his first UA snap last week. Jordan Crook (3, 1 PBU) and true frosh Brad Spence (5, 1 INT, 85-yard TD) have also been contributors.
CB Eddie Heckard 6, 1 INT, 1 PBU) was a 1st-team FCS All-American at Weber State in 2022 with 43 career starts. Other top CBs: Jakob Robinson (7, 2 INT, 1 PBU), Kamden Garrett (6, 1 TFL, 1 INT) and Caleb Christensen (2, 1 TFL). Ethan Slade (9, 1 TFL, 1 PBU), Tanner Wall (5), Malik Moore (3, 1 PBU) and Crew Wakley (2, 1 hurry) are the leading safeties.
Veteran secondary gave up a few open looks on the edges and TE drags. Top safeties: Jayden Johnson (13, 1 INT, 1 FF), Hudson Clark (3, 1 TFL, 1 INT) and Al Walcott (5, 1 PBU). Transfers Jaheim Singletary (7, 0.5 TFL) and Lorando Johnson (3, 1 TFL, 1 PBU) have 2 starts each. Kee’yon Stewart (1) got run last week after turf toe by Dwight McGlothern (1, 1 TFL, 1 INT).
P Ryan Rehkow, the Ray Guy Week 1 national punter of the week and a 3-time All-Independent first-team selection, has 8 of 13 punts at 50-plus yards and 6 inside the 20 with only 3 return yards. The Cougars, like Arkansas, have no FG attempts. Parker Kingston averages 27 yards on 4 KORs. Hobbs Nyberg has 22 punt return yards on 6 attempts. Will Ferrin is at 90% touchbacks on kickoffs.
Max Fletcher’s punting (47.4 avg., 5 fair catches, 3 inside 20) has been a weapon. His average is 12th in the FBS. Isaiah Sategna averages 21.0 on KORs, 19.7 on PRs and leads the team with 68 all-purpose yards per game. Cam Little has not had a FGA but he’s got 9 touchbacks on 11 kickoffs. Coverage has been excellent: Opponents have 38 total return yards on 2 kickoffs, 2 punts.
BYU would like to return the favor after getting routed at home by the Razorbacks last season and they’re now upholding Big 12 honor against the SEC, which has struggled badly in non-conference marquee games. The Cougars have 60 new players on their roster but transfers in key spots like quarterback, linebacker and the defensive front.
The Razorbacks were treated to BYU’s outstanding level of hospitality last season and enjoyed their trip with a 52-35 handy win. Coach Sam Pittman said there’s a different, more intense vibe in practice this week and there needed to be. Quarterback and 3-time captain KJ Jefferson questioned whether the Razorbacks played with enough passion last week.