MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – A new series begins Saturday night at Milan Puskar Stadium.
BYU (5-3, 2-3 Big 12) visits Morgantown for the first time in program history when it takes on WVU (5-3, 3-2 Big 12) this weekend, and the Cougars will be operating without their point man.
BYU scouting report
Kevin Reynolds of the Salt Lake Tribune reported Thursday night that BYU starting quarterback Kedon Slovis will not start Saturday’s game after dealing with injuries over the last month. Slovis – who played at Pitt in 2022 – threw for 308 yards and a touchdown against West Virginia in the 2022 Backyard Brawl.
It appears that junior quarterback Jake Retzlaff will get the start for BYU in his first FBS appearance. Retzlaff was a three-star recruit and the No. 1 junior college quarterback in the transfer portal this offseason after throwing for over 12,400 yards and scoring 126 total touchdowns in two years of junior college ball.
The BYU offense is achieving the fewest yards per game (300.6) in the Big 12 by a considerable margin, and it is scoring the third-fewest points per game (24.9) in the conference. The Cougars (81.3) are also the only team in the Big 12 that is not rushing for over 100 yards per game.
On defense, the Cougars are in the middle of the pack in most team-wide statistics, and they allow the seventh-fewest points per game (25.6) in the conference.
BYU is also searching for its first road Big 12 win since joining the conference this year, and Saturday will be the only game the Cougars play all year in the eastern time zone.
Big day for pass rush and secondary
BYU is only getting sacked about once per game, but with its citizen rushing numbers, expect defensive coordinator Jordan Lesley to bring the pressure on the first-time starter in Retzlaff. Redshirt freshman defensive end Tomiwa Durojaiye leads WVU with three sacks, and only three other Mountaineers (Jared Bartlett, Tyrin Bradley, Lee Kpogba) have multiple sacks on the season.
Last week’s Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week Beanie Bishop has already matched WVU’s total interception output from 2022 with four picks. Five other players (Marcis Floyd, Aubrey Burks, Anthony Wilson, Malachi Ruffin and Avery Wilcox) have one interception this season.
If the pass rush gets to Retzlaff consistently, one of those players could join Bishop in the multi-interception club.
“At corner, [last week] was really one of our better games,” Brown said. “Beanie played well in coverage. [He] played really well in man-coverage. I thought both Malachi and Jacolby [Spells played well]. That’s probably the best Jacolby’s covered. That was very positive. Malachi played…really solid at corner. We played him six-or-eight snaps at safety, and I thought he was pretty consistent there too.”
Big 12 implications
There are currently six teams (Oklahoma, Texas, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Iowa State and Kansas) that are ahead of WVU in the Big 12 standings. This weekend, all six of those teams are playing another one of the five other programs in the top six.
If the Mountaineers beat BYU, there is a good chance they can enter the Oklahoma game tied for the second spot in the conference standings.
“Everything’s still there,” center Zach Frazier said. “If we win out, I think we’ll be right where we want to be. That’s definitely on everyone’s mind and the goal everyone’s working toward.”