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BYU Quarterback: Time to Choose

10 August 2010 Brett Richins 84 Comments
Jake Heaps

Jake Heaps

The BYU quarterback battle has quickly boiled down once again to a choice between Riley Nelson and Jake Heaps.

The question is which one of these signal callers is best suited to take advantage of the talent the Cougars will put out the field this season. They vary vastly in their strengths and style of play.

Heaps is the prototypical pocket passer, while Nelson is a guy that relies on his feet as much as his arm.

In our previous segment, we mentioned that the Cougar offense will operate with more receivers on the field and fewer tight ends than in the past. So whose game is best suited to run that show?

Both Nelson and Heaps had solid performances Tuesday on the practice field. Nelson completed 4 of 6 passes; three of his completions were touchdowns. He also gained 48 yards on 6 carries.

For Riley, it was a good showing in what has thus far been a less than scintillating camp for the junior, who has looked uncomfortable in the pocket and has been inconsistent with his passes.

Heaps, meanwhile, connected on 10 of 11 passes with two touchdowns. Jake’s lone incomplete pass was intercepted by Brian Logan in the red zone.

My contention has been from early in the spring that Jake Heaps is the quarterback on the BYU roster that gives this team the best chance of success in 2010 and beyond. That opinion hasn’t changed in the weeks and months since.

It’s almost incomprehensible to think that BYU would start a true freshman at quarterback. And it’s understandable that the coaches are struggling to wrap their heads around that one.

Yet Heaps can make all the throws that you look for in a Division-1 quarterback, and he was the most college-ready QB in the country coming out of high school this year. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be bumps in the road. There will be. Maybe a lot of them.

But with the Cougars employing more three and even four wide receiver sets this year, it makes sense to go with someone that can consistently get the ball into the hands of those talented receivers, and do it in stride and on time.

Heaps is light-years ahead of any quarterback on the roster in that department. Jake can air it out deep and do so accurately. He has shown the ability to throw the ball on target to virtually any place on the field.

Jake is also a film junkie. He’s a student of the game. His grasp of the play book, his understanding of defenses and his overall QB IQ is well ahead of his years–and his peers.

Riley Nelson is a terrific athlete, but he has yet to prove that he has a Division-1 caliber arm. He can make things happen with his feet, but without having to respect his passing prowess or the threat of a deep ball, defenses will be able to limit or negate Nelson’s effectiveness.

As a true freshman at Utah State in 2006, Nelson quarterbacked the Aggies to an upset victory over the Fresno State Bulldogs in his first college start. However, WAC defenses were able to make adjustments and scheme for Riley and shut down the Aggies over the final six games.

The Aggies went 0-6 the rest of the way that year and averaged less than 12 points a game in the process. In Nelson’s defense, the cupboard was extremely bare offensively for USU, and at BYU he will be working with a huge upgrade in talent. The question is, can Nelson better maximize that talent around him than Jake Heaps?

The BYU Cougars are not going to change their DNA. They are who they are; they throw the football. A quarterback that demonstrates poise in the pocket and accuracy with his arm is at a premium. That’s the recipe for success in Provo.

Another thing to muse upon:  What if Nelson were to win and hold the starting job? Does anyone think Jake Heaps will sit the pine in Provo cooling his heels for the next two years waiting for his chance as a junior? Ain’t gonna happen.

Inserting Jake Heaps’ talents into this offense, with the weapons the Cougars have, is the right move. One wonders how long this whole thing will go on. The time is soon at hand to get the young Heaps the reps he will need to be prepared for the season.

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  • Kroll said:

    You make a good argument for heaps. When I played receiver in high school nothing was more annoying then being open on a pass play and having the qb take off running. Receivers are lucky to get the ball 5 times a game they have enough competition with other receivers let alone the qb. Running qbs remind me of score first point guards. Effective but not the best teamMates.

  • J 2 said:

    Wow, laid it all out there. It will be interesting to see how the rest of camp progresses, but so far Heaps seems to have the it. Even when the numbers yesterday favored Nelson, Jan Jorgensen on his radio show put the nod towards Heaps and his abilities. I’ll take the feel from a recently former player to numbers (even though 10-11 is nothing to shake a stick at). Hopefully the competition will breed a more polished quarterback for the season.

  • herf said:

    The whole universe knows its HEAPS! I wish bronco and the boys would just put this issue to rest. Riley is a great guy but great guys dont mean squat if your throwing the ball 5 yards short to your receivers. The natives in provo will turn on nice guys quickly if they are not winning period point blank! Good article on the Q.B’s i have not heard anybody with football experience/knowlegde of the game pro-nelson its been well heaps is a freashman but………….. He is the guy just get it over with already and let the already pressure mount on heaps and see how he handles it! GO COUGS

  • IceBlue said:

    Well done. I have to agree fully. This is exactly what I was thinking. If we had a stable of experienced TE’s and Harvey I might struggle with this decision but as it stands I think it is clear we need a more accurate passer with a stronger arm. Buckle up however. He’s still young and this schedule is very front loaded, but look out Utah.

  • DJ said:

    Nice article Brett. You laid it down perfectly. Let Nelson be the leader in the locker room and let Heaps be the leader on the field. David Locke said it best. “Once Bronco names Heaps the starter the quicker the whole team will rally around the freshmen, Bronco needs to name the starter with in a week.”

  • Carsen Williams said:

    I agree with you that Heaps should get the starting job. But if it somehow happened that Nelson got it there’s no way Heaps is going to sit on the bench for two years. He’ll transfer after this year if Nelson starts and wins. Even if we’re taking a chance on Heaps it’ll be worth it because by the time he’s had a couple years in the system he’ll the star of the show. And Heaps is a born leader. I’m not saying Nelson isn’t or is for that matter but Heaps is the reason for half of our recruits this year. He may drag some other guys with him if he doesn’t start and transfers from byu.

  • Jordan said:

    for all those who think Jake will transfer if Nelson got the job… think about it. they type of player that Nelson is tends to lean towards injuries. Even if he does start, he could be out fore the season after a few games

  • Seasider said:

    Heaps clearly is the frontrunner and if he’s the best guy for the job, I’m all for it at this moment in time I’m all for it, but I’m starting to feel like this QB battle is turning more into a political campaign where fans and media pundits are rallying around their favorites. Yes, we all want to see what Jake can do with a BYU offense and we want it now because we’re afraid he’s gonna pull a Ben Olson on us. I’m sorry but that’s not a good enough reason to start a true freshman at QB. If Heaps doesn’t get the nod and decides to leave then I say let him leave! Because if he does that, he’s not the kind of character we need on the team. Bronco will name Heaps the starter because he’s far and away the best we currently have at QB, a football decision not a political one.

  • Blue Blooded said:

    Exactly Brett. Standing ovation!

  • j said:

    AMEN!! After watching these first couple practices, I wonder to myself how the coaches and players are able to keep such straight faces when they continually say things like both QB’s are great and both would do a great job at leading us in the future…blah blah.

    In warm ups, (one on zero) QB to WR in just basic patterns, Nelson struggles to complete some of those passes consistently and on target with out the WR having to make some sort of adjustment. Jakes passes are on the money in those drills almost every time, no matter the distance or the route or who he’s throwing to.

    Then the gap between the two widens as they move on from warm ups into the rest of practice. Most of Nelson’s completions are to the RB’s, TE’s, H’s and not to the Wide Outs.

  • BYU DUDE said:

    Nice article, it is time to give the ball to Jake Heaps, he won’t sit on the bench for two years. I think the decision will be made after the Scrimmage on Saturday, probably Monday. The guy ;that can get the ball to all the offensive weapons, will start, and that is Jake Heaps. The pressure of the competition is going to serve Jake well, and I would not be surprised to see Riley Nelson take a few snaps in the game vs Washington to defuse the pressure from Jake. Brett , I would be interested to know how many completions and touchdown’s both QBs have against the first string defense. I read another article that said it heavily favored Jake Heaps .?

  • John www.RealFansStand.com said:

    So Brett, I read this article and there’s one glaring question that stands out. You started this article by talking about how each QB has fared in practice, and just to remind everyone, here’s what you had to say about Nelson’s stats:

    “Nelson completed 4 of 6 passes; three of his completions were touchdowns. He also gained 48 yards on 6 carries.”

    Then you comment on the fact that Heaps lone incompletion was an interception in the Red Zone.

    Then, you go on to say this about Nelson’s skillset:

    “Riley Nelson is a terrific athlete, but he has yet to prove that he has a Division-1 caliber arm. He can make things happen with his feet, but without having to respect his passing prowess or the threat of a deep ball, defenses will be able to limit or negate Nelson’s effectiveness.”

    So riddle me this… Why couldn’t BYU’s defense limit his effectiveness? Are you wrong in your assessment, or is BYU’s defense struggling that bad? Furthermore, you talk about Nelson’s shortcomings, but it was Heaps who threw a pick in critical scoring territory.

    Based solely on the stats you listed, Nelson’s ability to scramble forces the defense to respect all of his various options. Sure, he may not hit a receiver 25 yards downfield in stride every single attempt, but clearly, he was hitting his receivers for huge gains anyway, as well as picking up 8 yards per carry rushing the ball. It sounds like Nelson made the linebackers stay at home and respect his feet, while Riley allowed them to drop back in coverage. Sure, his completion percentage is pretty, but completion percentage doesn’t win football games.

    I’d really like to value your opinion here, but your thoughts and what happened on the field are incongruent. Any further explanation?

  • John www.RealFansStand.com said:

    Excuse me, I said “while Riley allowed them to drop back in coverage”. I meant while Heaps allowed them to drop back.

  • Jim Tills said:

    All of the commentators are highlighting Riley Nelson’s running ability and a slight deficiency in ability to pass deep down field accurately. The deficiency is huge because it limits the deep threat that opens up the offense for a team that lives or dies through its passing game (eg. BYU!!!) Riley Nelson is a great athlete and does have rapport with many on the team. However, being short on passes, making receivers make adjustments in catching the ball and running most times when pressured instead of looking for the third open receiver is a huge downer for the team. Yes, he may or may not make five to eight yards running OR he may get sacked or stopped for one or two yards gain—when he needs ten to thirty yards—and could have achieved it if only waiting that split second longer in the pocket and seeing on the third sweep of his eyes down field that wide open receiver of which the defense has left coverage.
    Also, the constant chatter always mentions—and deservedly so—Jake Heap’s incredible passing ability. However, he does have legs! He ran for many touchdowns in High School play. He can and does run also. However, he chooses to pass because he is sensational in that aspect of his play, he gives receivers confidence that if they are open, he will find them and they do not ever worry that he will run instead of getting the ball to them when he can.
    In my opinion, unless Jake gets hurt, he is the man that needs to play now. Even if he is intercepted (what quarterback at BYU has not been intercepted often?) once in awhile, so what? He was only intercepted 18 times in High School??? Unbelievable passing accuracy. What in the world are we waiting for in naming him the starter? He does need the reps now; there are only a limited number of days to get ready for Washington and the rest of the season.
    Riley and Jason Mums need to be getting some reps as well because Jake is very young and could get hurt. Other teams will be gunning for him hoping to knock him out of action.
    I hope that Anae and Bronco will put in some special plays to take advantage of Nelson’s running and Jason Mums size and arm strength. Has anyone thought of putting Jason in as fullback and a play or two using him as a wildcat passer? His size would fit a fullback blocker and runner in certain situations with the ability to throw the ball on specially designed plays. What a weapon!

  • Nate said:

    I second John’s question. I haven’t been to any practices so all I have are the statistics to rely upon, but so far the stats during fall camp seem to be almost dead even with Riley maybe leading a bit. Yes I’m not considering all the 1st team 2nd team stuff because nobody has released that information that I know of.

    Maybe as the camp progresses we will see our defense start to shut down Riley as they adjust to his running game. I thought that Brett brought up a good point about how USU upset Fresno but then lost as other teams’ defenses adjusted for a running QB. However, if our defense can’t stop him in camp, then maybe he should be the starter. In short, I don’t think this is a done deal right now like many of the other people commenting. Their numbers in 11 on 11 are almost dead even; let’s wait for one to pull away clearly before naming a starter.

  • frdbtr said:

    Brett, if Heaps is the type of person that would transfer if he didn’t win the starting job this year, I don’t want him on the team. Frankly, I would rather he not win the job, and let the quitter transfer. We have Lark and Munns who would lead the team better in that circumstance. If you have inside information that he is that type of person and you still advocate him as BYU’s future then I have no respect for you either. Frankly, I don’t think that is the case, I think if he didn’t win the job, he would work harder to get better and try to win it next year or take over it later on this year. I have not seen even one person transfer from BYU and have success. Quitters just don’t because it is easy for them to quit again when things get hard again.

  • Greg said:

    @ John – I don’t mean to be argumentative, but I think you have to separate GAME stats from PRACTICE stats. Compare Nelson to Heaps:

    Nelson Heaps
    Completions 4 10
    Attempts 6 11
    TDs 3 2
    INTs 0 1
    Rushes 6 0
    Rushing Yds 48 0

    In a game, you’d much rather have 3 TDs to 2 TDs and 1 INT, right? Of course. But these aren’t games. They were mostly blue zone drills yesterday, so there SHOULD be a higher number of TDs. Put another way, if Hall had scored a TD on 75% of his completions, would we have lost a single game over the past 3 years?

    It’s also obvious that Anae or Doman is calling in the plays for which each QB is best suited. That’s exactly what they should be doing, and they’ll change it up during games if one QB gets hurt. As far as I’m concerned, however, the real key is the comment I keep reading over and over that Heaps can accurately place the ball into the receiver’s hands anywhere on the field. That’s EXACTLY what we need. Perhaps more importantly, the offensive machine will gel even more once one QB is getting all the reps.

    Another (perhaps) knock on Riley is that extra rushing puts the offense at risk. Remember Jake Locker last year? He’s a more polished QB, but he had to sit a good chunk of the season last year after being injured. Injuries (minor or severe) are much more likely with running QBs. I’d much rather have one of our outstanding RBs get the carries and protect the QB. Seriously, while Unga was great, Kariya and DiLuigi were phenomenal without him in the OU game. I expect even more from both this year, as well as Quezada.

    I have no personal connection to any of the four QBs, but some attrition will happen. That’s OK. If we lose Heaps, great! That means that we had at least one and possibly two better QBs on the roster. But I don’t think that’s the case. With all of the prep Heaps got during high school from NFL-caliber QB coaches, I’m ready to let a freshman start. Go Cougs!!!

  • Jym said:

    We’ve only had 3 days of camp. I totally trust that the coaches will make the right moves with all the positions up for grabs, not just the qb. Different situations may allow for different qb skills to be put into use, therefore we may see both of them at different times.

    Do Lark and Munns have any redshirt years available? They were both outstanding qbs in high school and I’d hate to see us completely not use that talent at some point. If we’re going to lose anyone to transfer it would likely be one of them.

    Should be an exciting season!

  • Brad G said:

    What makes you so certain that (a) if Nelson is pegged for the starter this year he will be the starter next year, and (b) that Heaps will transfer if he doesn’t start this year?

    I thought Bronco made it clear with how he handled Berry/Beck that he is willing to start an underclassman over the incumbent starter from the year before.

    I also have seen/heard nothing other than forum conjecture that Heaps would ever transfer. I thought this kid was BYU through and through. This program doesn’t need people like Ben Olson, Michael Marquardt etc. who think they are bigger than the team or scheme and transfer. If Heaps is that kind of kid, we might be better off if he does transfer.

  • Ben said:

    Brett, you hit the nail on the head on one HUGE point.

    Does anyone think Jake Heaps will sit around for the next 2 seasons waiting to start??? NO!

    And he’s already stated he’s not going to go on a mission, so that’s not going to fly.

    If the competition at QB is THAT close, in my opinion, there is then no choice on who to go with. Jake Heaps.

    I would really, really like to see Nelson inserted here and there for a misdirection play, play action, option, etc. But maybe once a quarter only.

    I have what I believe to be a legitimate concern that if Riley Nelson wins the job, he’ll obviously be QB next year too, and I worry that Jake Heaps will take his ball and go elsewhere. And let me say this: most every Division 1 school would open the door WIDE open for Jake.

  • frdbtr said:

    To Ben,
    If Jake Heaps is that big of a quitter, let him leave and don’t let the door hit ya in the rear end on the way out.

  • detmer14 www.realfansstand.com said:

    We’ve had this discussion over on realfansstand.com or maybe it was on DSOB, but could it be that Bronco already has the starter named in his head but does not want to come out with that information making it seem that he’s handed a freshman (Jake Heaps) the position without earning. He may be holding the already-make decision so that veterans on the team see that both QBs are making an effort. Just an idea. Similar to law enforcement not giving the media all of the details of a case since it would cause chaos.

    I do agree that maybe after another week, it would be good to finally come out with the info so the starting QB can get more much-needed reps with the ones and twos offenses.

  • BYU Blue 2003 said:

    The importance of being able to “stretch” a defense can’t be understated. Just the threat of Heaps being able to go over the top of opposings Ds to Apo or Jacobson makes the opposing safties play back a little farther, leaving the center of the field a little more open for the TEs, RBs, and slot receiver to operate. Let’s face it…no opposing D is going to respect the possibility of a long pass from Riley. I used to be a Heaps doubter, but no longer. Start the kid!

  • John www.RealFansStand.com said:

    @Greg, I’m not entirely sure I see what you’re saying in your first couple posts. Clearly a team isn’t going to score on 75% of their possessions, but 75% of their red zone possessions is possible.. Strike that, not possible, necessary, or you’re going to lose a lot of games. Turnovers in the red zone will almost always cost you games. No matter which way you look at it, Heaps didn’t outplay Nelson with the stats that were posted, and nothing about those stats shows Heaps is the guy to lead BYU to 10+ wins this year.

    As to each players skills, I keep hearing you guys say that Heaps can hit anyone, anywhere, but less than a week ago, Bronco was criticizing his arm in the press. He said something about his passes being errant and him missing receivers, etc. I thought his comments were weird because the #’s released for Heaps have always been pretty incredible, so I started wondering what Bronco meant, and the only thing I could come up with is that Heaps isn’t taking any risks. If that’s the case, and he’s throwing the ball underneath for short yardage rather than going downfield, then he’s not showing anyone what he’s supposedly capable of doing. That’d explain the repeated criticism about stalled drives as well.

    The thing that really worries me about that scenario is that it seems as if heaps is trying to win the job by not messing up, rather than by going out and just playing, and pushing the offense to excel. That’s either a sign that he’s timid and nervous, or that he’s devious and trying to take the easy route to winning the job, which will leave him unprepared once the season starts, because nobody coached him on adjustments to be made when he went down field in practice.

    As for rushing QB’s getting hurt more often: That’s probably true, but I don’t think Locker is a great example. Locker is a big risk taker who doesn’t shy away from taking a hit. Those kind of guys do get hurt a lot, but what about guys like Tebow, who run with the ball but are also smart enough QB’s to not think they can continuously run over linebackers. The fact that Nelson didn’t take ANY sort of an injury while trying to lead a team as crappy as the Aggies to wins tells me he’s probably got enough brains in his head to hit the ground, rather than trying to battle a linebacker for an extra half yard.

  • John www.RealFansStand.com said:

    @detmer… I don’t think this is a case of Bronco having made a decision but keeping it close to the vest. I think Bronco is smarter than that. He’d realize that refusing to name a starter can undermine his players confidence, and it also costs them practice time.

    Also, 3 years ago when it was Hall’s turn, he named him the starter in April, despite being new on campus and having never taken a snap while at ASU (meaning it had been over 2 years since his last game snap in high school).

    I REALLY don’t think Bronco is just keeping his decision quiet. The strategy to playing a game like that is one a losing coach would employ, not a smart guy like Bronco.

  • Greg said:

    @ John – My point was simply to ignore the TDs when comparing the numbers. Once you do that, 10 of 11 looks better than 4 of 6, especially considering that the offense under Riley employs more of the short routes. Once you throw in Heaps’ success (gaudy passing numbers) in Spring ball, I think the long-run benefit of starting him early is readily apparent. Unfortunately, that may also mean not serving an LDS mission.

    I follow BYU football like a thirsty man looking for water, but I haven’t read anything about Bronco criticizing Heaps. Could you share a hyperlink, please?

  • kiyoshige said:

    While it’s tempting to say NOW is “the time to choose”, that is not always the case. I honestly thought it was Nelson’s job until I changed my mind after last Spring. But you can’t tell much from spring ball and really, it’s hard to make a judgment based on spring/fall camp alone. We talkin’ bout practice!

    So, this debate is going to be played out on the REAL GAME FIELD.

    Whether Riley or Jake is under center, both are going to get reps in REAL GAME situations this fall. We should be prepared for this as fans and be understanding and respectful of the coaches’ decision, regardless of how we feel. I can just hear the boo birds out at LES now when “their” QB is not running out on the field. Let’s support the guy that the coaches trust. We might be debating this the WHOLE SEASON!!!

    I have posted here before that I do think that our coaches have done an extraordinary job getting the best players on the field. For example, Bronco gave up his beloved 3-3-5 to get more linebackers out there when it was in the best interest of the team. I do agree with one poster when Fowler got the nod over Rich that was a questionable call a few years ago, but Rich still got plenty of playing time that year.

    There is no reason to suspect they will not play the best QB. While we have been “spoiled” with one obvious choice the past 6 years, that may not be the case this year. Yes, I know, 2 QB systems are prone to failure, but if ne1 can do it, Bronco et al can.

  • Russell said:

    Don’t forget Jake can redshirt one year and play 3 here…

  • CosmoCoug said:

    Couple things here:
    1. Has Bronco ever kept anything close to his vest because he was worried what people might think? The dude calls people out all the time and constantly says things to the effect of, “The uneducated fans won’t like it but…”
    2. I love it how people still think that BYU lives and dies by the passing game. Someone commented a while back on Broncos 3 goals for the offense each game. 1 was rushing yards, but none involved the pass. The stats were something like rush for over 100 yards and BYU wins 90% of the time.
    3. In the “Glory Days” of LaVelle, I challenge ANYONE to look up the play calling stats. BYU ran the ball almost 50% of the time. Think about our great backs, ie: Ronnie Jenkins, Jamal Willis, etc
    4. Don’t discount Riley’s feet. Have you guys not been watching the MWC the last 8 years? What team’s always do well? Those with QBs who can run out of a jam. If he can’t throw deep that’s one thing, but BYU doesn’t attack deep that much anyway, maybe 3 or 4 times a game. but our offense is built more on timing and quick release.

  • CosmoCoug said:

    One more thing…we are all giddy about Heaps right now and asking for a decision and the pads haven’t even gone on yet. That means that the defense rush has not been that intense. Let’s wait a little and see how the young kid handles a real rush in his face.

    The defense always wins day one of full pads, live team and mostly due to the rush of the QB

  • Ben said:


    It’s not a quitting thing. He’d go to a team where he’d start. Obviously as highly touted as he is, he has NFL aspirations. He was recruited all over the country, but he chose BYU. You don’t think it’d be worth SOME effort to ensure he stays on the team if he doesn’t win the starting QB job? Don’t forget, he brought Apo and Stout along with him, who by all accounts, appear to be ready to contribute this year.

    For 99% of players, I agree with you. But I think you’d have to admit, Heaps may be a special player. And he’s certainly capable of helping attract big time talent to BYU.

    We all agree on one thing, though. WHOEVER IT TAKES FOR BYU TO WIN AS MANY GAMES AS POSSIBLE…that’s our guy.

    I’d be fine if Riley was the starter. I like him a lot. But yes, i would worry about the ramifications with Heaps.

  • CosmoCoug said:

    That whole transfer thing to start sure worked out well for Ben Olsen…Wasn’t he like the #1 QB prospect or at least top 5 when he came out? I wonder how many college games he won.

    you know who the ride the bench for a year or two worked out for?
    1. Matt Leinhart
    2. Tim Tebow
    3. Max Hall
    4. John Beck
    5. Steve Young
    6. Matt Stafford
    7. Matt Ryan

    and about a bazillion others. Hopefully If Heaps doesn’t start, his ego doesn’t take him somewhere else.

  • CosmoCoug said:

    Speaking of quitting…Does anyone know what Bronco meant/was referring to in the Daily Universe interview last week when he said Heaps can’t make it through a workout yet?

  • CBT said:

    Doman was a running QB for BYU right? But in 2001, he passed it 3x more than he ran it. Look it up. He learned to play from the pocket. Go see the 2000 BYU-Utah game as well, where Doman made every big throw needed to win and was accurate down the field. Can we say that about Riley, because people want to compare the two, and I think that is a disservice to Doman as of today.

    Now review Riley’s stats at BYU. In 2009, he ran it 2x more than he passed it. In scrimmages, he is about 50/50. Clearly the kid is not comfortable being a pocket guy and using his feet to create time to throw, rather than using his feet to run it. He feels pressure, he pulls it down and runs, rather than using his speed to create more time to throw. Riley needs to trust his playmakers more to make plays, rather than acting like he is the only one that can make plays, or not trusting his throwing ability enough to get it done. We may have a great O-line, but if teams stuff the box with 8 guys, and play the safeties close the line because Riley can not challenge D’s to play defense on more of the field, his talents are diminished. And it really is that simple.

  • Casey Adams said:

    A couple of thoughts. Because this is a QB race, people tend to talk about passes and completions. Those stats are relatively meaningless in this particular race. The players are too different. As a result, I think the comparison should be solely based on result of drives. When Riley is under center, how do we do compared to when Jake is under center. Think of it like a competition between point guards. One may pass first and the other may shoot first but the real determination is when they are playing with the same players, what is the point differential.

    On the subject of blue zone offense. A running QB is always more effective in the blue zone but less likely to get you to the blue zone. Think about it.

    Finally, the entire conversation is particularly interesting because of how it compares to the U of U QB situation last year. IIRC, they had a Junior who was a better passer than runner and a freshman who was a better runner. The junior started the season and the offense struggled but was effective enough to win because it also didn’t make mistakes. They went with the freshman later in the season and the offense was more volatile. It scored more on big plays but also stalled more often. I predict we see the same result. Our offense with Riley won’t give us the type of numbers we have come to expect of Anae’s amazing offenses (look it up, his streak is unparalleled in BYU history) but it also won’t cost us games. Heaps gives us the potential to put up the high ppg and ypg totals but he also could cost us a key game or two. I hope it works out for us as well as it did for the U last year.

  • Trey said:

    This is all very interesting. I wish I could see the practises so that I could tell what everyone else is seeing. Just by reading stats alone on this day of practise, Riley wins. There is no two ways to interpret that. Throwing an interception in the Blue Zone is huge. However, being that this is just practise, this may be more a tribute to Brian Logan than a huge mistake by Heaps. The fact of the matter is we are all inferring a lot over 10 to 11 plays of practise football by two QBs. That is like 2.5 sets of downs. And where are Lark and Munns stats. One thing that bothers me is that without having been at the practises it sounds like they are not getting as many reps. So how is that a fair shake? I have no experience in coaching football, so I don’t know how that all works, but I imagine that a lot of it is based on the spring training that the kids do on their own with the team. Cuz how do you make a decision like this off of 2.5 sets of downs?

    I think it is funny that so many are begging for the long passer and terrified of the short passer, when we have been winning football games off of the short passing game for years. Yes we want defenses to respect the long pass, but rarely do we stretch the field, even with beck who passed a 70 yarder in the air (incompletion) in an actual game. As long as a QB can accurately pass 30 yards in the air, he is qualified to play at BYU. Most of our long yard passes are a result of after the catch yards, because our receivers are so awesome. Plus our running game is huge. The place we have been lacking versus our opposition is that nobody has had to respect the option against us. Remember FSU last year and how silly they made us look. A running QB is not a bad thing as long as he can accurately make passes. I’m not saying that I think Riley should get the nod either. I want the best QB to play, and I trust Bronco, Doman, and Anae to make that decision.

  • frdbtr said:

    If Heaps transferred, he would be quitting on the guys that he recruited to BYU to “help him win a National Championship”, He would be quitting on the coaches that have tried to make him ready to play as soon as possible, And last of all, he would be quitting on the fans that so passionately want him to play and win a NC as a starter. Yes, it is quitting to leave the team as soon as you don’t win the starting job. Not only that but he would lose a year of eligiblity so any team that took him would have to redshirt him and the soonest he could start would be as a RS sophomore so why not stay at BYU, try to beat out Riley next year and if you don’t, you start as a RS sophomore.

  • CosmoCoug said:

    @ Casey:
    I don’t know what you mean when you say Anae’s numbers are UNPRECEDENTED. I imagine you can really only look at TOTAL YARDS/game and POINTS/game

    I have not had time to look into the yards but I can tell you he has been bested in the POINTS/game, which most likely equates to being bested in YPG as well, seeing as how you have to cover a lot of ground to score a lot of points.

    Points/Game In Anae’s time at BYU:
    2005: 33
    2006: 36.77
    2007: 30.8
    2008: 34
    TOTAL AVERAGE: 33.63 Points per Game

    Most recent time this was beaten in BYU History:
    1988: 32.3
    1989: 40.2
    1990: 40.3
    1991: 33.3
    TOTAL AVERAGE: 36.53 Points per Game

  • CosmoCoug said:

    Also of interest to the Riley doubters…who was the QB? A scramble little Squirt by the name of Ty Detmer. Now I am not comparing the two in terms of all talent, but in terms of style of play. Ty ran around ALOT! As did Steve Young. We have had a lot of good QBs use their feet to move the ball…and likewise we have had a lot of QBs who didn’t run well, ala Coach of those pesky dogs…Sark. Both types of QBs (Heaps and Nelson) have been VERY productive for BYU over the history of time

  • Greg said:

    @ CosmoCoug: Ty Detmer backed up Sean Covey. Sean Covey was more of a rushing QB than Ty ever was. Ty replaced him the following season. I still remember attending that media day, meeting Lavell, and feeling angry when we were finally able to get a picture with Sean. Why? Because he called some loser sophomore over to join in the picture. Now I have a picture of me with a Heisman Trophy Winner. Man, do I feel sheepish.

    It’s odd that many of us have assumed Nelson can’t throw or that Heaps can’t run. I don’t think either is accurate. I’m trying to base my limited understanding on their most recent results. Nelson had success for a little while at USU before defenses keyed off his running and shut the offense down. Heaps won three straight WA State Championships. He didn’t lose a game until his Senior year (one to nationally ranked Oaks Christian when he was sick with the flu and the other at the end of the regular season to a team they later beat in the playoffs).

    Man, can you tell I need some games to watch???

  • True blue TY said:

    We can debate this till september 4th at 6:59 Eastern but this season is a building season either way. Give Riley the a the team to start the season and reward him for the work he has put in and let Jake clean up a meaningless season and get real game time experiance in preperation for next year.

  • John www.RealFansStand.com said:


    I’ve seen no real evidence that Heaps is going downfield while Nelson is passing to the short routes, but even if there’s truth to that, it’s mostly irrelevant, because the production is very similar from both guys. In truth, I’d rather have my QB finding a receiver 8 yards out with 20 yards of daylight in front of him than throwing to a guy 28 yards out in tight coverage. Both net the same, but the guy with the YAC is more likely to create a play.

    As for eliminating the TD’s and looking at other stats, I still am unconvinced. You’re saying these were primarily red zone drills,and you implied that each QB ran four series. That means that heaps went 10-11 with a total of 80 yards of field to work with. Even if he scored on all 4 drives, that’s only an 8 YPC average, so I don’t see where the “going downfield” claim has any legitimacy in this drill.

    It sounds very strongly to me that both QB’s are picking up receivers on short routes. I’d really like to see some more info on who’s spreading the ball around better, and where the point of reception is on both QB’s. I’m sure the coaches have this info and are analyzing it.. It’s just too bad we don’t get access to in depth scouting as fans… Haha

    As for a link about Bronco criticizing Heaps, I don’t have them handy, and I don’t want to dig for it at the moment, but if you look through our BYU boards, you can find pretty much every word Bronco has said into a microphone in the past month. Detmer is a link posting FREAK. I know one of the instances where Bronco criticized heaps was at media days, but that’s not the one I’m thinking about (I don’t believe so, anyway)…


  • John www.RealFansStand.com said:

    Oh, and just for the record, I know it sounds like I’m pushing Nelson.. I really don’t care. I’m a Ute fan who’s just following your QB battle. I just don’t understand the “Heaps is God” mentality when the stats show both guys to be pretty even, and the coaches have publicly agreed with that.

    In truth, I see this year as a rebuilding year for BYU. If I’m Bronco, I’d start Nelson, redshirt Heaps, and have Larks/Munn as the backup, with the full intent to start Nelson for 4 straight years, either next year, or following a mission. I think that is the solution that nets BYU the most wins in the long run.

  • John www.RealFansStand.com said:

    @cosmocoug. I think you’ve made some really good points.. just wanted to give some props.

    @cbt: Your #’s for Doman’s rushing don’t include the option to Stayley, which was a gigantic part of BYU’s offense in 01. You’re also referencing Nelson’s #’s as a backup, which is irrelevant because he only came into games in two circumstances last year: wildcat formations where the pay was a called QB run, and garbage time, where BYU was going to run the ball on every down except third and long.

    @ Casey Adams, you said “On the subject of blue zone offense. A running QB is always more effective in the blue zone but less likely to get you to the blue zone. Think about it.” Totally untrue, look at some of the most potent offenses this state has seen in the past 10 years..

    2001 BYU, Doman was a running machine.. so good at it that BYU’s west coast offense was the first western team to truly run the Spread option offense that Urban Meyer made famous. That team averaged 44 points per game.

    2003-04 Utah, Alex Smith was a total threat to rush, but only a moderate threat to go over the top. In 2003, Utah averaged 28.6 PPG, and in 04 they averaged 45.3.

    Compare those #’s to BYU in 06 (36.7PPG), 07 (30PPG), 08 (34.2) and 09 (35.4).. Clearly, teams with rushing QB’s CAN move the ball every bit as well.

  • CosmoCoug said:

    @ John,

    Funny how it took a Ute to see what we are all missing here. I thought I was the only one who saw that for the Program and Heaps shot at a NC, it is SOOOOOOOOOO much better for Heaps to redshirt this year and play 4 straight (I think that is what John meant, not Nelson) years each year gaining a more experienced team.

    As for a link to the article I was questioning it is http://cougarfan.com/article.asp?ArtID=62021&URL=http://universe.byu.edu/node/9973

    Bronco said:
    “It’s been interesting to listen to the so-called experts who have touted [Heaps’ accomplishments],” Mendenhall said. “He’s a freshman at BYU. He plays quarterback and has a lot to live up to.”
    Mendenhall said Heaps must prove he can make it as a Cougar by performing well in his workouts and establishing a leadership role on the team.
    “He has to make it through the workouts, which he struggles to do,” Mendenhall said. “He also has to realize that without doing that, no one’s going to follow him. So regardless of what sometimes recruiting services build into a young man, they can easily build expectations that are not in relation to our football program.”

  • John www.RealFansStand.com said:

    @cosmo.. Thanks for the correct, you’re absolutely right. Start Nelson this year, let heaps earn the job next year (or in 3 after a mission), and give him a full 5 years in the program.

  • Casey Adams said:


    Anae’s offense is unprecedented because he has coached from 2005-2009 and his offense has put up more than 30 ppg every year. Note that this amounts to all his years as a OC.

    You cite for comparison’88-’91, a 4 year period but Anae has coached for 5 years 2005-2009. If you go either direction from the period you cite, there is a year less than 30ppg. (See Cougarstats.com).

    BYU truly has done better once before. From ’79-’85 BYU was over 30 ppg every season. What Anae is doing in his first 5 years as an OC is uprecedented. Even during BYU’s run from ’79-’85 they didn’t have a new OC. The OC had experience. Anae doesn’t get enough love. That guy is putting on a clinic of how to be an OC. Truly, what he is doing is unprecedented.

  • Anyone said:

    “3. In the “Glory Days” of LaVelle, I challenge ANYONE to look up the play calling stats. BYU ran the ball almost 50% of the time. Think about our great backs, ie: Ronnie Jenkins, Jamal Willis, etc”

    Here are the percentage of play that were rushing plays, shown for some ‘glory days’ and the Anae years.

    Year Run %
    1979 44%
    1980 41%
    1981 42%
    1983 47%
    1984 45%
    1989 49%
    1990 40%
    1991 50%
    1996 58%
    2005 45%
    2006 49%
    2007 49%
    2008 46%
    2009 53%

  • Casey Adams said:

    @ Casey Adams, you said “On the subject of blue zone offense. A running QB is always more effective in the blue zone but less likely to get you to the blue zone. Think about it.” Totally untrue, look at some of the most potent offenses this state has seen in the past 10 years.

    You are citing potency of offense for the proposition that running QBs are not superior in the red zone. I don’t see how that is on point. On average, when a QB loses his deep routes because he is in the red zone and the field can’t be stretched, a running QB is more potent. It is specifically this fact that encouraged the use of the wildcat/direct snap formation in the red zone. Sure, QBs who can’t run can be potent but that isn’t really on point, is it?

  • CosmoCoug said:


    My bad. I forgot that it was 2010 and unintentially left off 2009.

    Points/Game In Anae’s time at BYU:
    2005: 33
    2006: 36.77
    2007: 30.8
    2008: 34
    2009: 35.5
    TOTAL AVERAGE: 34.01 Points per Game

    Most recent time this was beaten in BYU History:
    1988: 32.3
    1989: 40.2
    1990: 40.3
    1991: 33.3
    1992: 29.7
    TOTAL AVERAGE: 35.16 Points per Game

    Also, just so you know I was not necessarily challenging you, but asking what you really meant by unprecedented and then making an assumption on what you meant.

    As a new OC, yes…unprecedented, in terms of production, no. but still VERY good!

  • Gary Jacobson said:

    It seems frustrating and unfair that Phillips must sit out and lose valuable reps because the NCAA isn’t prompt with accepting his paperwork. His contributions and playing time could be very much in jeopardy because of a stupid paperwork snafu. Why wasn’t it taken care of months ago?

  • Gary Jacobson said:

    And who is at fault, Phillips, BYU, or the NCAA?

  • BryDog said:

    All I hear from BYU coaches is, “Jake Heaps is really great for a freshman.” “Heaps is way beyond anything a Freshman has ever done.” “I’ve never seen a freshman do so well.”

    This makes me cringe. I don’t want a quarterback thats “good for a freshman.”

    As soon as I hear, “I don’t care what year he enrolled here, he is by far the best quarterback out there hands down” I don’t want him starting. Even if he is TIED with Nielson. Heres why:

    Remember how BYU took down OU and Utah? Our game plan was to rush and pressure FRESHMAN quarterbacks…(extremely talented QBs, but freshman). We gambled on the fact that a talented freshman QB, is STILL a freshman…mentally barely hanging on to what he’s juggling…what to do lists to cross off in a game. Still mechanically thinking through the pieces. Getting blitzed puts you over the edge mentally, and you drop all the eggs.

    The strategy worked both games. And believe me, opponents will try the same all season against Heaps if he is started. I say start Riley. You blitz that guy, and he pimps you for 8 yards.

  • Mike said:

    I fully trust the coaches to make the right call. They are also working very closely with the guys and the guys know what’s going on. Remember years past early in camp when the defense was so strong early on and the offense sputtered? The excuse was that it takes much more time for the offense to get things right. So, is our offense that good, or is our defense that bad? No matter which QB gets the nod, looks good so far.

    By the way, having a running QB is a huge benefit in practice. Washington and Florida State and Nevada all have QB’s that can run. Our defense should be primed.

  • John www.RealFansStand.com said:

    @casey.. you totally missed my point.. Here’s the relevant part of your quote to which I was responding:

    “A running QB is always more effective in the blue zone but less likely to get you to the blue zone”

    Clearly, 2001 BYU, and 2003-04 Utah had absolutely no problem moving the ball from one end of the field to the other, in spite of mobile QB’s with questionable arm strength and accuracy.

  • Greg said:

    @BryDog – I think BYU prepared for an Oklahoma team led last year by a Mr. Sam Bradford (currently with the St. Louis Rams). It wasn’t until he was injured and removed from the game that Landry Jones was called up from the minor leagues. Anyway, I’m pretty sure Bradford was a senior. I also disagree that we “prepared” for Utah. I think one of BYU’s glaring weaknesses recently is that we only prepare for the next team. TCU circles the date of the BYU game and prepares for the Cougars throughout Fall camp. They only switch to prepping for upcoming opponents the week prior to the game.

    However, I absolutely agree with you that we need to be getting pressure on opposing QBs. Regardless of their experience level or school class, QBs can and do get rattled. I love it when Bronco brings 6-7 rather than just rushing 3 and hoping we don’t break (see the last two TCU games to see if that’s effective against solid competition). It’s my hope that we’ll bring more unexpected pressure this year and kick the stuffing out of TCU and Utah. You know, as a parting gift.

  • justin said:

    amen brett…amen! it’s really not too hard to figure out who will be best on sept 4th.

  • BYU DUDE said:

    Jake Heaps had one opportunity to take the team 80 yards down the field and score today, Heaps scored.

    Riley Nelson had two opportunities to take the team 80 yards down the field and score, he went three and out both time’s

    Jake Heaps won the day.!!!

  • Ryan F said:

    Heaps for me.

    But ultimately, I’d rather see the decision made and one of them declared the starter. That way, when anything goes wrong in the first few games, I’m not yelling at my TV about the coaches dinking around during the off season with a QB challenge extraordinaire. (or during the regular season!)

  • herf said:

    John http://www.RealFansStand.com Knew you were a troll from the moment of your first post! Its just bad poor Greg couldn’t figure that out the longer down the page i read your posts i knew you didn’t know jack about what your talking about. Oh and by the way what does it say about Ute fans that are following BYU QB’S religiously LOL you guys are priceless. You wouldn’t know much about heaps cause the only reason Utah fans come on these sites is to argue cause they are bored with their personal lifes and your team still SUCKS!

  • CosmoCoug said:

    @ Herf,

    Seriously? Why are you getting on John’s case? All his points have been valid and constructive. He has offered no ill will to Cougar fans. No need for the comments.

    I for one still love how we are all so consumed with KNOWING who is “The Guy” after a couple non-padded practices that are basically 7-on-7 drills. And if your O doesn’t beat your D 8 out of 10 times in 7on7 you have a sorry offense. So the fact that both QBs are being successful is no surprise and completely irrelevant.

    @ Greg

    I think BryDog’s point was that once the new guy came in we turned up the heat. That is no secret. Any college D facing a Freshman QB brings the house and any NFL D facing a rookie brings the house…(See Beck v Steelers and Eagles).

    @ ANYONE

    Thanks for the stats. Looks like I was pretty close…point being, I am more worried about our backfield than the guy handing the ball off. If you can’t run you can’t win games. Likewise I’m not as concerned about our secondary being the STRONGEST part of our D because if the front 7 are no good, teams won’t need to pass.

  • we are BYU said:

    I saw Nelson play and the only thing he did is run!! he was not confident when throwing and more important he did not impress anybody right?, he may get similar numbers to heaps and heck sometimes better which goes both ways cause heaps gets better numbers than him too but lets remember that one is a junior and the other a freshman and if he were really better than heaps then as a junior should have been far superior than him with all that experience he is supposed to already have. If Nelson starts even with his experience he will need to develop for a year right? then we only have a good QB for a year and will have to go through this again, but on the other side if Heaps starts, he develops just as good as Nelson since they are pulling similar numbers but he is a freshman, then we have a great QB the next year but an even better junior and senior.

  • John www.RealFansStand.com said:

    LOL @ Herf… nuff said.

  • Ryan F said:

    “we are BYU” makes a good point.

    Nelson is perhaps a lot closer to his “performance ceiling” than Heaps is. However, Heaps is already beating him in stats and style. (forget the nonsense of comparing 2 practices of fall camp, Heaps destroyed Nelson in spring ball from what I’ve read)

    Just a thought. Also, Nelson may run well, but he may not be big enough to get hit over and over and over. Didn’t Tebow have to sit some games out and he was 6′ 3″ 240lbs. (and well, he was Tim Tebow)

    I’m starting to sense that Mendenhall may like the idea of switching the quarterback out in games to simply give defenses fits. Heaps goes out on the field and moves the team to the red zone and then suddenly Nelson is out there scampering around or throwing for short yardage….?

  • GJ said:

    First of all why would Jake Heaps leave if he were not the starter this year. Unless either Munns or Lark passed him up he would still be starting in two years, and if he did transfer he would be starting in two years at the soonest, due to having to sit out a year.

    Also despite the fact that Nelson had better numbers than Heaps did in Tuesdays practice, it is my understanding that most of his yards came against the 3rd team defense.

  • Austin BYU Chick said:

    I know we are just talking about Nelson and Heaps, but Lark got a full 80 yard drive yesterday that ended in a TD. I don’t know who he was up against, but to just declare Heaps the winner of the day is a bit quick. By the way, we can we talk about something else–defense please? Wrubell had a great interview with Pendleton yesterday. Man that guy did some great hitting last year on a really bum shoulder.

  • detmer14 www.realfansstand.com said:

    @ Herf

    John never dissed BYU at all. In fact, he just gave his opinion on what he thought would HELP BYU the most this season. And he has some valid points. I have also thought that it might be a good idea to redshirt Heaps. If we want the MOST potential from him while he’s at BYU, why not use his best 4 years of his 5 years of eligibility instead of his first 4 years. Can you imagine how great of a QB he could be if we kept him till 2014? Lark and Munns are plenty talented enough to back up Nelson this year if we wanted to redshirt Heaps. I don’t see Bronco doing this by the way things have been going, but it is an interesting idea.

    Although I don’t like Nelson’s personality (wife went to HS with him in Logan, UT), I think he’s skilled enough to lead the team this year.

    I’m not sure how well it would work using 2 QBs all season long. Could be a complete fiasco, could be a good mix-up to throw defenses off – especially if Heaps ran it on a few plays while Nelson threw it. Defenses would prepare for Heaps to throw it and Nelson to run it, then they would get juked and we’d do the opposite.

    Probably the best scenario – as stated by others – is that is we still want to use both QBs, is to let Heaps do most of the work and bring Nelson in for the wildcat formation or for certain bluezone situations. I would feel bad for Nelson if Heaps got the starting position and we didn’t utilize Nelson’s skills at all.

  • herf said:

    Ya sorry john i was a little harsh mainly because it seems every byu site i go to there are ute fans on there just trying to argue maybe i should have given you the benifit of the doubt. The other reason is since the whole pac 12 thing i have had a hard time stomaching much of ute fans trying to just talk junk. Sorry i lumped you in with your fan base no hard feelings.

  • Blue Blooded said:

    Here’s how I see it:

    On the field, QBs are meant to throw and hand off the ball.
    The running should be left to the RBs. Having a QB that can run when under pressure is a bonus to be sure. But a QB that can scramble well doesn’t take precedence over a QB who can throw the ball much better than he can run it.

    And who says Jake heaps can’t run the ball for 10 to 15 when the opposing defense gets stretched down the field. (ie: Max Hall during a number of games last year).

  • John www.RealFansStand.com said:

    @ Ryan F: Nelson being closer to his ceiling is probably the most accurate and logical reason why you’d choose heaps over him. Great post there.

    That said, I still think that if Nelson at his best = heaps currently, you look to the future and redshirt Heaps. That way, next year, heaps should be well ahead of Nelson, and BYU will receive the benefits for 5 years instead of 4.

    @ herf. Apology accepted. No hard feelings.

    @ blue blooded. How many top 5 teams from the past 7-8 years have had a pocket passer with limited scrambling abilities?

  • Blue Blooded said:

    My question goes unanswered: Why are we all assuming that Heaps has limited scrambling abilities? Sure, he’s not as agile as Nelson, but he’s not a freakin’ cow in the pocket. (See You Tube)

    Again, I sight Max Hall who wasn’t known for his running ability but who would sneak in some solid rushes when the opportunity arose.

  • Ryan F said:


    Yeah, if Nelson is showing really well in practices this fall camp, I’d be fine with him getting the start and having Heaps redshirt. But he has got to really outshine Heaps or else I’ll accept nothing but outstanding play from quarterback this year.

    I’ve not read a ton, but what I’ve read has really favored Heaps out of Spring camp and then Brett’s articles here have really swayed me towards supporting Heaps for the starting position.

    Ultimately, I just want BYU to do well so I guess Mendenhall is our man and if he thinks its best to continue the competition, so be it.

  • Ryan F said:

    @ Blue Blooded

    I’m sure Heaps could scamper if he needed to, but I’ve read nothing to suggest that he is a scrambling quarterback.

    Nelson is.

    Perhaps this is why the competition has persisted so long and maybe why it will continue into the season. I’m a spring chicken as far as BYU fans go (’09 Alum, woot) but truly effective running quarterbacks are a novelty in Provo. So I can see the dilemma if Mendenhall and Anae see some sort of advantage in keeping Nelson in the mix as a wild cat threat. Even though he is inferior to Heaps throwing arm, perhaps his skills are too much to sit on the bench as the backup.

  • Casey Adams said:

    Horrible numbers for both Heaps and Nelson at the scrimmage on Saturday. Maybe Lark still has a shot.

  • CosmoCoug said:

    I am really hoping for Riley Nelson…Why??? Let’s look at the past QBs who won the MWC Champs.

    2001: BYU – Doman, ran the option as a huge part of the offense
    2002: CSU – Van Pelt, ran like a maniac
    2003: Utah – Alex Smith, they ran the ride option with him as their base package.
    2004: Utah – Alex Smith, See Above
    2005: TCU – Ty Gunn – known as the top “Dual Threat” QB, ran the speed option adn QB draw
    2006: BYU – Beck, Ran well enough to stay out of trouble
    2007: BYU – Hall, See Beck
    2008: Utah – Brian Johnson – RUN RUN RUN
    2009: TCU – Andy Dalton, Loves to run the ball and TCU loves to call QB draws with him.

    Shoot, I haven’t done research on it, but I bet if you looked at the National Champs over the last 15 years, I bet 75%+ won with running QBs. The thing people fail to realize is the meaning of the words “Dual Threat.” That doesn’t mean Arm Strength and Accuracy, that means arm and feet. It is so hard to stop a dual threat QB. in the past 3 years BYU has not stopped a dual threat QB in spite of having some of the top defenses in the country. Sure we may have won the games, but QB constantly kept drives alive with their feet. It is too hard to neutralize a Dual Threat.

    Finally, I have decided that the fallout of Nelson being named the QB would be VERY entertaining to watch. The way BYU fans have reacted to Heaps arrival, I would expect to see picket lines outside LES on Sept 4 with signs that read “Without Heaps, we won’t watch!” That would be news worth watching!

  • Ryan F said:

    @Cosmo Coug

    Woah…the data doesn’t really back up the assertion that running QBs win conference year in year out.

    I used ESPN which only has stats to 2004. And obviously these are QBs so sacks hurt their numbers, but that is telling in and of itself…

    2004’s Alex Smith was in fact a rushing QB. 631 yards on 135 carries for 4.7 average and 10 TDs.

    In 2005, Tye Gunn isn’t even listed among the rushers in ESPN’s stats for 2005 for TCU. Probably indicating negative total yards. Ballard was the QB for the majority of the season. He had decent numbers, running 314 yards on 94 carries for a 3.4 average and 8 TDs.

    In 2006, Beck averaged -.2 yards on 50 attempts for 8 total rushing yards and 6 TDs.

    In 2007, Hall averaged .3 yards on 52 carries for a total of 14 yards and 1 TD.

    In 2008, Johnson ran 108 times for 128 total yards, averaging 1.2 yards per carry and 1 TD.

    In 2009, you finally have a QB that is putting up numbers with his feet again. Dalton had 116 carries for 512 yards, a 4.4 yard average and 3 TDs.

    Simply put, Alex Smith seemed like a legit dual threat. Dalton as well. Ballard perhaps to a lesser extent, Johnson obviously ran it a lot, but meh…. John Beck and Max Hall were throwing QBs with scrambling instincts. (well, Beck at least I think) They were not running QBs. If they were, then just about every QB is a running QB. There is a difference between scrambling and actually being good at running the football.

    Point being, if Mendenhall and Anae think they can win more games with Nelson, then by all means, start him. The fact they cannot decide indicates they are unsure who they can win more games with. Hopefully they will decide soon.

  • CosmoCoug said:

    @ Ryan,

    No the numbers are not going to tell the whole story…why? Look at my notes. Gunn and Smith ran OPTIONS as did Doman, as did Johnson.

    When you have to respect the QB on the option it uses up a defender. How many times does the QB actually carry the ball? not many, and for not many yards, but his threat allows less guys to be on the pitch man.

    I don’t see Anae calling run plays with Nelson as the primary runner. I am sure they will use some sort of option attack with him back there.

    So while you numbers don’t add up, go back and watch footage from the QBs I listed and tell me they were not running QBs

  • CosmoCoug said:

    @ Ryan F

    PS…refer back to my notes once more. I didn’t claim that Beck and Hall were running QBs. It says “Ran well enough to stay out of trouble.” That means they were able to scramble when needed and pick up a first down on a tuck and run when needed. But no, they were runners like the rest. I never claimed they were

  • Blue Blooded said:


    My point exactly. So who’s to say that Heaps isn’t like Hall or Beck?

  • Ryan F said:

    In the last 4 years, BYU (ironically) has won two conference championships with a passing QB.

    I was addressing what I thought was an assertion about conference champions always having a running QB.

    I suppose we agree that the conference champion has not always sported a dual threat QB every year for the past decade.

  • CosmoCoug said:

    The obvious conclusion…BYU isn’t like the other schools. Well one must remember that Beck and Hall both had the support of All Time Leading Rushers in the back field. The whole reason for running the option and putting the D in a bind is because your traditional run game is not as potent…ala BYU in 2010.

    But mainly most people(Ryan and BlueBlooded included, to be sure) prove my 2nd reason for wanting Nelson to start…just to see the entire dismantling of BYU Fandom and the ensuing riots! BYU fans are only going to like Bronco in 2010 if Heaps starts. If not, 95% of you will be throwing your TVs out the window.

  • kiyoshige said:

    Comso & RF,
    It will be nice when we are using Nelson and Heaps OWN resumes to make the points instead of other teams, their QBs and their situations.

    Count me among the 5% that will keep their TV sets (in my case, computer streaming KSL internet) if Nelson starts. But I stand by my prediction that Heaps starts. I switched to Team Heaps after the spring and the fall has yet to change my mind…

    I do think that whoever starts BOTH will see the field this year and will have opportunities to build their own resumes in REAL GAME situations.

  • Ryan F said:

    Give Kariya, DiLuigi and Quezada the volume of touches that Brown and Unga got and then lets compare.

    Eagerness for fan discontent is juvenile.

    If Nelson starts, the potential for direct comparison to Heaps’ touted skill is natural, particularly if Nelson does not play well. I will be more than happy for Nelson to start and win game after game.

    When a team has a 5 star recruit touted as perhaps the most competent and prepared player at a position, yes, a burden is added to an upperclassmen if he (Nelson) gets the start.

  • J 2 said:

    All I can say is that whoever is the QB needs the reps. It was crazy to find out in the DNews that TCU run’s a 120 play scrimmage with Dalton taking most of the reps and BYU is splitting time with 70 plays…… there seems to be enough depth this year to go with a longer scrimmage. The coaches haven’t wanted to injure anyone the past few years with the lack of depth, but it seems that they could add more work to the younger players which would probably pay dividends.
    This is a double edged sword, the coaches want execution and the shorter scrimmage puts the pressure on the players to perform under stress hopefully accelerating the learning curve.
    The con is there are a number of positions that could use the extra amount of reps to get all the players the time necessary to learn. Richard Wilson TE in one of the interviews specifically mentioned the difficulty to perform when he and the TE’s know that they might have one or two chances to make a play. That is too little, especially when it sounds like the TE’s are dropping balls frequently the past two days.
    There are still two and a half weeks leading to the game, take advantage of a long scrimmage now before it is too late to recover from fatigue or injury. Make the time to let the cream rise to the top… then all these decisions should be obvious to the coaching staff.

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