BYU football: Here’s how QB Jaren Hall’s fifth-year Cougars final season looks like independent college football in 2022

BYU’s Garen Hall says he doesn’t have any goals or checklists for himself in what will surely be his last season in the Cougar Blue before he pursues his dream of playing in the NFL.

His expectations for the team as a whole? Now that’s another story.

“I think the sky is the limit,” Hall said Thursday after BYU recorded its first practice at its 2022 pre-season training camp. “We have the potential to have a really good season, as a team.”

Showing more character and enthusiasm than ever during his five years in Provo, the relaxed and confident hall of rounds with reporters in the 95-degree heat of the outdoor training facility and joked about everything from his golf game, to giving his father coach and advice Kalani Setaki talks about baby care, for his decision to practically wear a long-sleeved undershirt to hide his muscular arms.

“I think the sky is the limit. We have the potential to have a really good season, as a team.” – BYU quarterback Garen Hall

Of course, Hall is not only the undisputed quarterback who started in 2022, he is also the face of the program, the captain, and the alpha dog among the players. Last August, when he battled to be a starter with prospective superstars Jacob Conover and Baylor Romney, he wasn’t as comfortable and easygoing as he was Thursday.

This is his team, and he knows it, even if he’s too humble and self-deprecating to put it so openly.

“Just another year of experience under my belt, that’s it,” he said, when asked if this year’s camp was any different knowing he’s the guy. “Just more confidence. The game is a little slower. I have a little bit of an understanding of things. I’m just trying to keep everything simple, as always.”

Praised for how well the match turned out in the 20 minutes or so of practice that the media were allowed to watch on Thursday, Hall put the glory over the others.

“We have an O line (protrude),” he said. “And how clean the pocket is, and how well we run the ball today. We don’t even have sanitary napkins, but they move guys. It’s no secret (O-line) is the strength of our team, as always.”

In fact, Hall can be said to be the team’s strength, having gone 8-2 as a rookie last season in 10 games he played, throwing for 2,583 yards and 20 touchdowns with only five interceptions. He’s emerged as a potential NFL draft, which is another reason why this season is definitely his last, even if he technically has two years of eligibility left.

Hall said he’s with the top three recipients Puka Nacua, Gunner Romney and Keanu Hill already in sync, having spent countless hours honing that chemistry, on top of what they’ve accomplished last year. Now it’s about getting other receivers like Kody Epps, Chase Roberts, Terence Fall and Brayden Cosper on the same page.

BYU quarterback Garen Hall begins scrambling – in jersey, shorts and helmet – during the first training session of Bootcamp Thursday, August 4, 2022 in Provo.

“Spring Bull always feels a lot smoother right out of the gate because it’s only two months away (after the season),” he said. “But then fall camp is four or four and a half months after the Spring Ball, so it’s a much longer respite. Just finding sync with the receivers (a priority). Today, with all of our experienced guys, everyone was where they were.” They’re supposed to be in it. Now it’s about doing everything a little bit faster, just syncing everything up.”

Setaki said Hall looks “more relaxed this year” because he’s focused entirely on improving attack, not winning the quarterback derby. He said offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick did a masterful job of bringing in Hall, just as Roderick did with Zach Wilson when he was the QBs coach and Jeff Grimes was the OC in 2019 and 2020.

“I just gave (Roderick) the opportunity to teach him, set the standards he had for him, the expectations he was expected to achieve this summer,” Setaki said. “And he did. We will see what happens in the fall camp. On the first day, Garin did a great job, as did the other midfielders when they were on the field.”

Romney said he’s been working with Hall throughout the holiday period, roughly from the day he decided to return for a final season. Romney said the bootcamp would be used to focus on specific playing concepts and what would work against specific defences.

Did Hall add anything new to his repertoire?

“I mean no. It’s two neighbors. We know what to expect of him. It’s fun to see him beat a defense again, and face some playbook in 11v11 sessions. I’m excited to watch him play a full game again.”

Hall said he put on weight “maybe five pounds” in the off season and feels “really good” where he is physically now that he missed the ball game with an ankle injury.

He clearly knows he has to take a lot of precautions to stay healthy this season, after failing to finish the 2019 and 2021 seasons due to a concussion in 2019 and the aforementioned in 2021. He missed the entire 2020 season when Wilson was rising to stardom with Hip injury.

“I have to get the ball out a lot faster, and understand what’s going on,” Hall said. “You can prime your body, eat right, sleep right. But at the end of the day, if you don’t know what’s going on, you can’t protect yourself, so you have to be mentally locked up and know the game better than anyone else.”


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