Column: What would BYU do without Jaren Hall?

Can we just take a minute to appreciate what Jaren Hall is doing right now?

Over the first five games of the season, BYU’s veteran quarterback has thrown for 1,438 yards and 12 touchdowns. He’s completed 70.2% of his passes, coughed up just one interception and posted a stellar 162.8 rating.

Such statistics would already be impressive on their own, but given the turbulent circumstances of the season thus far, it’s clear that Hall’s value reaches far beyond the numbers.

In fact, Hall has essentially put the team on his back. The Cougars would be lost without him.

Sure, BYU is 4-1 and ranked No. 16 nationally, but September was anything but smooth sailing for the Cougars. The run game has been inconsistent, key offensive pieces have been sidelined with injuries and the defense continues to be the most controversial subject in all of Utah valley. Throw in five missed field goals for Jake Oldroyd along with Dallin Holker jumping ship two weeks ago, and it’s a miracle that BYU has avoided disaster, let alone had success.

That miracle has been Hall.

“It’s a joy to have Jaren on our team obviously leading and being a captain for us,” head coach Kalani Sitake said. “He stays humble and keeps working hard. He’s a great example to our team and even to me as a coach.”

Hall is making NFL-caliber throws all over the field. His awareness in the pocket has been outstanding. His deep ball has noticeably improved and his ball placement is breathtaking.

BYU has played in close games, been blown out and dealt with sloppy frustration, yet Hall’s poise and composure have never wavered. He never appears flustered or out of sync. His grace under pressure has yielded phenomenal results.

Losing seasoned receivers Gunner Romney and Puka Nacua for extended periods should have been a major blow to BYU’s passing game, but rather than stall with limited weapons, Hall has created new ones.

BYU is scoring nearly 35 points per game with Kody Epps leading the team in catches, Keanu Hill in touchdowns and Hall himself posting more receiving scores than Romney and Nacua combined. Who woulda thought?

It’s almost unfathomable to think that BYU is 4-1 with Epps, Chase Roberts and Brayden Cosper — who had just nine career catches between them prior to 2022 — having produced 51 receptions and five touchdowns as a trio this season and leading the receiving charge, but that’s just a testament to how good Hall has been. No other quarterback would be getting this much out of a depleted receiving group, and frankly, few others would be 4-1 at BYU this year.

Here’s an example: I’m no analyst, but I would say Hall’s two finest throws of the season have been his corner end zone shot to Roberts against Baylor as well as the touchdown he threw to Ethan Erickson last week against Utah State. For Roberts, it was his second collegiate game, and Erickson’s grab marked his first career reception. Neither had practically any experience, yet both pass-catchers appeared to be talented veterans on each play thanks to meticulous accuracy from Hall’s arm. Great quarterbacks elevate their receivers, and Hall has been no different.

Despite throwing much more frequently, targeting new faces and only occasionally having a run game to support the passing attack, BYU’s offense has surrendered just one turnover thus far. The Cougars are currently riding a streak of four straight giveaway-free contests and are among a mere four squads in the nation with one or fewer turnovers. All things considered, that’s pretty absurd. BYU’s margin of error has often been microscopic, but Hall’s decision making and knack for ball security have kept the Cougars shielded from danger.

“That’s a young man that doesn’t take anything for granted, how much he appreciates the opportunity to be a leader and to be in charge of the offense,” Sitake said. “He takes extra care of the football because of that mindset.”

BYU has needed to lean on Hall more than ever before this season, yet he keeps getting better and never falters. In a season where Sitake claims the Cougars have “yet to play (their) best football”, Hall has been the lone excellent constant keeping everything together.

Can you even think of a single poor performance from Hall over his career? I don’t think one exists. In 17 career starts dating back to 2019, Hall holds a 13-4 record and has never posted a lower single-game rating than 123.6, which came in defeating in Baylor this year. When your lowest-rated outing comes on a night where you took down a top-10 opponent, your career must be pretty ridiculous.

It’s time to include Hall in the conversation of BYU’s all-time elite quarterbacks. We’re witnessing greatness under center for the Cougars.

Hall has more Power-5 victories than any other quarterback at BYU. He has the best touchdown to interception ratio (5.5:1) and lowest interception rate (1.17%) in program history, while ranking fourth in completion percentage (66.3%) and fifth in passer rating (157.9).

Oh, and he beat Utah. That alone makes Hall immortal, let alone the rest of his stacked resume.

It’s a near lock that Hall is headed for the NFL this coming spring as his draft stock continues to skyrocket. Starting with Saturday against Notre Dame, we’ll likely only see Hall suit up for the Cougars eight more times.

Please cherish this remaining time with Hall as BYU’s quarterback. Once he’s gone, it may be years before we see another passer of his caliber in Provo.

Jackson Payne is the lead columnist at Daily Universe Sports. Follow him on Twitter @jackson5payne.

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