How many actually good games did Kedon Slovis play last season?
If you take away two garbage-time touchdowns against Georgia Tech and three touchdowns against a Miami team with its tail tucked between its legs in the season finale, Slovis would’ve finished the season with five touchdowns and nine interceptions.
And it’s not like the final stat line of 10 touchdowns and nine interceptions is particularly glamorous either. In 11 games for reference.
It would be one thing if Slovis put together a poor season but was someone who earned the trust and respect of his teammates in the locker room. If his hasty transfer portal exit — subsequently landing at BYU — is any indication, he did not command the locker room at all.
If you ask Marquis Williams, a noted team leader, Slovis quit on the team.
If you ask me, Slovis put together one good, full game last season. Miami. He completed 18-of-28 pass attempts for 262 yards and three touchdowns. And one pick. That’s a good game. A big Pitt win, no less.
But that’s really the only good game in my eyes. He was okay against West Virginia and was good for a half against Tennessee (and he did take some shots, so I gotta respect the heart there).
But then he came back against Rhode Island and didn’t complete a pass more than 10 yards downfield. He was bad against Georgia Tech, carried by Izzy Abanikanda against Virginia Tech and even worse against Louisville. I’d have benched him at the half against the ‘Cards.
He came back out with a poor showing against North Carolina, and then didn’t do much against Syracuse, Virginia and Duke. At that point in the season, while many hoped for a breakout from Slovis, it was more so about him not making any plays to lose football games. I remember talking about it before each game.
“If Slovis can throw for 175 yards and not turn the ball over… Pitt should win today.”
And for the most part down the stretch, Slovis did enough to not lose football games.
Slovis completed 184-of-315 pass attempts (58%) for 2,397 yards with 10 touchdowns and nine interceptions in 11 games. It was the worst season of Slovis’ college career.
In five games last season, Slovis didn’t throw a touchdown pass. And he threw an interception in seven games. His completion percentage tanked eight points from his previous worst — nearly 13 points from his previous best.
But that didn’t stop the Senior Bowl director from laying some praise on the new BYU quarterback’s shoulders.
Kedon Slovis, who surprised us by not only going back for fifth year but also transferring from Pitt to @BYUfootball, was one of two returning QBs (along with Oregon’s Box Nix) who received @seniorbowl invites last fall.
People who claim “stats don’t lie” have no clue because… pic.twitter.com/NIT5rnkkp8
— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) June 9, 2023
It would appear that Nagy is a serious Slovis supporter. He praised Slovis’ ball placement, footwork and experience, in addition to being a ‘smooth operator,’ so, yeah.
“People who claim ‘stats don’t lie’ have no clue because they do in many cases when it comes to projecting college players to NFL,” Nagy wrote.
“Statistically, Slovis’ numbers on paper have declined in many areas (yards, comp %, TDs) since his breakout true frosh season at USC but his NFL talent tape is obvious when you put on tape.”
But when you throw on the Pitt tape, what do you see? Because, honestly, the tape is just as bad as his stats were. Slovis, while he initially appeared to be a fit on paper, was anything but a fit in Pittsburgh. And he certainly didn’t pass the eye test.
The Pitt coaching staff hyped up a quarterback competition all throughout the offseason, and even though it was a poorly kept secret that Slovis was going to end up the starter, he wasn’t officially named the starter until a week before the Backyard Brawl. Phil Jurkovec, while he wasn’t officially named the starter, was all but named the starter back in March.
And it wasn’t until the Sun Bowl, with Slovis in the transfer portal by then, that Pitt turned to a new quarterback — barring when Slovis was injured early in the season.
Let’s just break down a few areas that Nagy praised. We’ll start with ball placement.
Slovis’ completion percentage has dropped every season, from 72% to 67% to 65% to 58% at Pitt last season, and it wasn’t as if Pitt had him making difficult throws. And the Pitt coaching staff had either no trust in Slovis’ deep ball ability or knew it wasn’t a play that was going to lead to success last season. It was non-existent.
He may throw a nice ball, but he certainly wasn’t accurate last season.
And if one area really held Slovis back last season, it was his footwork. He was unable to feel pressure, often leading to him holding onto the football for far too long, and he wasn’t able to navigate the pocket — let alone use his legs to escape pressure.
If we differentiate Slovis from Kenny Pickett in any one area, aside from leadership, I’d say it came down to Slovis’ inability to make plays in motion. And if not that, then his inability to complete a ball over 20 yards.
And that leads us to Slovis being a ‘smooth operator.’ I don’t know exactly what that means. If Slovis showed anything at Pitt, it was that he is not cool under pressure. In fact, he was extremely uncool under pressure.
If the eye test wasn’t enough, the advanced stats show it. In 121 dropbacks under pressure last season, Slovis completed just 41.7% of his pass attempts for 713 yards with four touchdowns and six interceptions. It’s a stark contrast to his play with a clean pocket.
Maybe Slovis will turn it around in Provo, maybe he won’t. But he certainly didn’t show anything in Pittsburgh that leads me to believe that he will. He just didn’t have it in Pittsburgh.