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QB Jaren Hall leads four TD drives at BYU football spring scrimmage

March 24, 2019
BYU sophomore quarterback Joe Critchlow prepares to throw the ball for the blue team during a Brigham Young University intrasquad scrimmage on Saturday, March 23, 2019, at west campus field in Provo.

{p id=”docs-internal-guid-ab48fb83-7fff-00d0-4795-59dc9a7cbb37” dir=”ltr”}When an offense takes the field in a football game, the goal (except in rare circumstances) is to get into the end zone.

{p dir=”ltr”}When the BYU offense was on the west campus field (formerly the Provo High football stadium) under the direction of freshman quarterback Jaren Hall during Saturday’s spring scrimmage, that mission was accomplished.

{p dir=”ltr”}Hall led the Cougar offense on four touchdown drives in his four series at the helm. That helped BYU’s offense have the edge on the day.

{p dir=”ltr”}“I was really pleased with the way he ran the offense when he was on the field,” Cougar head coach Kalani Sitake said. “For the most part, I thought Jaren’s decision-making was really good. I saw a lot of good things. I saw running backs and skill-position guys make guys miss, which was really good. When you are thudding up on defense, it’s easy and sometimes you take it for granted. When you are live, running backs can break tackles and quarterbacks can scramble. It was a good step for the defense.”

{p dir=”ltr”}BYU offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes said he felt like Hall just kept doing what he has been doing throughout spring camp.

{p dir=”ltr”}“He showed the same thing today that he shows every day in practice: a lot of poise, a lot of confidence and a pretty amazing combination of a guy who can run and throw,” Grimes said. “I’m not surprised at all because we see it every day in practice.”

{p dir=”ltr”}Hall finished 12-of-14 passing for 203 yards with two touchdowns (a 27-yarder to sophomore wide receiver Dax Milne and a 33-yarder to sophomore wide receiver Gunner Romney) and no interceptions.

{p dir=”ltr”}“In my first spring scrimmage getting in a live circumstance, I felt like I did OK,” Hall said. “There are still a lot of things to clean up and we’ll watch the film to see what we can do better. But for the first scrimmage, I felt like the offense did pretty well. It was enjoyable day and fun to be out here.”

{p dir=”ltr”}He also had five carries for 59 yards, including the most electrifying play of the afternoon.

{p dir=”ltr”}He started running around the left end on what appeared to be a designed running play but when it appeared bottled up, he reversed field and found an opening.

{p dir=”ltr”}“It’s what I did in high school a lot,” Hall said. “I love turning the field back. I was surprised no one was there so luckily I was clear. It was fun to get out, let the legs go and start running.”

{p dir=”ltr”}He ended up weaving his way down the field before being tackled as he crossed the goal line. It would’ve been a 65-yard score but part of it was nullified due to a downfield holding penalty.

{p dir=”ltr”}That play might not have been possible if Sitake hadn’t changed his mind. Earlier in the week he said he planned to have the quarterbacks not get tackled.

{p dir=”ltr”}“We got about 85 snaps and the quarterbacks were all live,” Sitake said. “You saw Jaren run around and that’s why we had to make them live. You think you have him but you really don’t. He extends plays.”

{p dir=”ltr”}When asked why he made the decision to let the quarterbacks get hit, he said the players and coaches convinced him it was the right thing to do.

{p dir=”ltr”}“They wanted to go live,” Sitake said. “I was going to hold them out but Jeff Grimes and Aaron Roderick really wanted to see the quarterbacks under some pressure. We had a situation where a guy thought he had a sack and Jaren was able to spin out of it. With our offense, we want to run the quarterback a little bit so these guys need to know what it feels like to get hit.”

{p dir=”ltr”}Grimes recalled being at Auburn with Cam Newton (now a pro QB with the Carolina Panthers), saying that the coaching staff protected him throughout spring and fall and thus didn’t realize just how good he was at running the football until they got into the games.

{p dir=”ltr”}“I think you find more out about a guy when there is a chance that someone might actually hit him,” Grimes said. “A guy can also show you what his athletic ability is.”

{p dir=”ltr”}Sitake wanted to make it clear that the performance of Hall the rest of the Cougar offense (which scored six touchdowns total) wasn’t due to the defense making it easy.

{p dir=”ltr”}“Defensively we pressured them up,” Sitake said. “We didn’t go with a vanilla defense. We wanted to go like it was a real game, so we did basically everything we have worked on in spring. We had pressures, some zones and some blitzes. It was good to get that look. It put our offense under strain a little bit.”

{p dir=”ltr”}That pressure did pay some dividends as BYU’s offense did have a few miscues.

{p dir=”ltr”}“Overall it was a pretty good day, although not as clean as we would like for it to be,” Grimes said. “We had one turnover, which is one too many. Then we had four or five false starts and a couple of holding penalties. Holdings may happen now and then but there is no excuse for false starts. That’s the thing that probably frustrated me the most.”

{p dir=”ltr”}The biggest moments of concern for the Cougars came when a couple of guys went down with injuries, most notably offensive lineman Tristan Hoge.

{p dir=”ltr”}“We had Tristan (Hoge) go down earlier in the scrimmage but he’s going to be fine,” Sitake said. “Guys might get hurt but I don’t know how else to do it to get ready for a season.”

{p dir=”ltr”}The Cougars will look to iron out some of the errors and stay healthy as they go through the final week of spring camp next week.

{p dir=”ltr”}“We have three more practices and we are going to use that to get going on our season and get a jump start on the offseason player-run practices,” Sitake said.