BYU defense stands tall in Spring Scrimmage


PROVO, Utah – The BYU defense forced seven punts and two turnovers Friday afternoon as BYU football held its annual spring scrimmage on at LaVell Edwards Stadium.

After both sides of the ball warmed up, the team played a set of 7-on-7 skeleton drills. The offense and defense then competed in a 65 play, 11-on-11 scrimmage, giving six different quarterbacks a chance to run the offense. 

The first play of the scrimmage began with Senior transfer Kedon Slovis delivering a 30-yard strike to Chase Roberts. Slovis went 6-for-13 through the air, throwing for 50 yards and 1 interception in 5 drives. 

Freshman Ryder Burton had a solid performance at the end of the scrimmage, going 5-for-8 for 67 yards and a rushing touchdown. Nick Billoups also had a 23 yard rushing touchdown for the Cougars at the end of the scrimmage, as well as Cole Hagen. Jake Retzlaff also participated in the scrimmage, going 7-for-10 for 69 yards and a touchdown. 

Devin Downing led the Cougars in receiving yards on the day, as the freshman from American Fork hauled in two catches for 41 yards. Chase Roberts also brought in two catches for 35 yards, while Hobbs Nyberg registered the lone receiving touchdown of the afternoon on a 7-yard pass from Retzlaff. 

Nukuluve Helu was the leading rusher for the Cougars, carrying the ball 6 times for 56 yards.

The Cougars special team unit made their only field goal of the day with Mathias Dunn drilling a 52-yard field goal for the first points of the day. 

Defensively, Jakob Robinson intercepted Slovis on the fourth possession of the scrimmage. Later in the scrimmage, Bodie Schoonover recovered a muffed handoff for the Cougar's second turnover of the day. George Udo led BYU in tackles, recording four in the scrimmage. Collectively,  the defense registered 43 tackles, 3 pass break-ups, 4 QB hurries and one sack by Atunaisa Mahe. 

BYU will wrap up their spring practices April 14th. 

Post-game Interviews

Head coach Kalani Sitake 

On how the scrimmage went today

“I think we got some good tackling in, some good fundamental football. We obviously kept it simple, but we’ll have our strategy in place by the time we get to fall season. We have three more practices and we’ll take advantage of those as we get ready for the upcoming season. Good to get football in front of the fans again, it was a cool feeling.”

On the defense

“I feel really good about this defensive group, and I’ve been super impressed all spring with the new staff and Jay Hill. The players like the scheme we are running, and today they played fundamental football and used good technique.” 

On alumni being back at BYU

“Whenever we can get our alumni back in the stadium with our players and fans is a beautiful thing. I’m trying to organize more things for our alumni because I want them around our players more, mentoring them in some kind of way.”

Jay Hill

On how the defense played today

“I thought they played really well early on. We kept it very basic and generic today because we wanted to see who would get out there and hit hard, and get to the ball. We are getting better, which is great to see. When the one’s and one’s from offense and defense went against each other, that was about getting better. Making sure we got the right guys on the field, and having some of the two’s working with the one’s to see who deserves to be there playing with them. Bottom line, today was about getting better and I thought we did that.”

On what he is most excited for as BYU moves into the Big 12

“I’m excited about the Big 12 schedule, I think it’s awesome. I’m also super excited about playing in front of the fans here at Lavell. I really like the players right now because they’re smart and they play hard, and I think that’s the starting point for a good defense. We are getting better, and I think the defensive staff has done a great job this spring helping the players improve.”

Thoughts on Kedon Slovis

“I love that guy, he’s a great leader who does a great job in the locker room right now. I think he’s really smart, and he’s going against a really complicated defense and handling it really well. He has a great arm, and I think the BYU fans are going to love him.” 


Aaron Roderick 

On second and third groups 

“Some of our young guys in the second and third groups were out there today and we got to see some guys that will be able to help us in season which was fun.” 

On Kedon Slovis 

“Kedon did a great job today. He threw several great completions. The first play of the game was a really nice completion.”

On the spring game 

“This was a game day for some of those guys that have never played a snap here in LaVell Edwards Stadium. It was nice to play in front of fans and out on the field with nice weather today.” 

On backup quarterback

“There’s going to be a good battle there between Cade and Jake for that second spot. They are both looking really good.”

On the defense

“Jay’s bringing a lot of pressure and allowing the defense to get after it a little bit more so it’s been a challenge. We’ve had some great battles in spring so far.” 

Tyler Batty

On spring scrimmage 

“Today was just a good opportunity to get out on the field and show the fans what we’ve been working on. It was a great way to wrap up spring ball by going live and competing.”

“I don’t think anyone is complaining about watching some football in the spring.” 

On going into the Big 12

“We are super excited. I don’t think it has really hit anyone yet. We have been independent for a long time and coming into this new year with a new staff it’s going to be a really awesome season.” 

On how the defense played today

“Overall as a defense we played well today. There is always room for improvement and we’re going to just make sure we keep getting better. It was a great opportunity to come out today and just keep improving.” 

On Jakob Robinson’s interception

“Jakob is a stud. We have some awesome players in the secondary who are really going to ball out this year and we are so excited for them.” 

On the offense

“We took it to them today and got after it. We have a great offense, a lot of talent there so it was just fun to play against them today.”

Kedon Slovis

On playing in the spring game

“I think every spring game you always walk away wanting to do more but we didn’t want to show too much since it was on live TV.”

On what to work on moving forward

“Going forward we are just going to fine tune the stuff that we need to keep working on, keep getting reps on plays and iron out some of the small details.” 

On the defense 

Our defense is doing a great job and it’s made me a better quarterback and our offensive line stronger. I am really grateful for our tough defense and wouldn’t have it any other way. 

On the Alumni Game 

“It’s always fun having the alumni back and getting to meet former quarterbacks. It’s been a fun day for us and the fans as well.”