After five weeks as the starting quarterback for BYU, is Jake Heaps progressing?
The frank answer at this point in the season is no.
In fact, you could make the argument that he has regressed over the past couple of games.
Let’s face it, the kid has been placed in a tough situation.
Here’s a young, 19-year-old trying to lead a group of men that are, on average, older than any team in the country. Most of them are returned missionaries, many are husbands and a few are even fathers.
Some of those old veterans have been slow to warm up to the young whipper snapper.
As I have stated here in the past, I believe Jake has been mishandled since the end of spring practice.
Hindsight is 20/20, but readers here know that I advocated naming Heaps as the starter coming out of spring ball. Such a move would have given him the opportunity to more fully grow into a leadership role beginning way back in April.
He should have been getting starter reps from day one in fall camp, with Riley Nelson sprinkled in running wildcat-type packages. If such a plan had been implemented, the Cougars might still have the services of Nelson right now.
Heaps' development would likely have been much further along as well. As it is, BYU now has a true freshman quarterback at the controls who is not nearly as prepared as he could be.
The play-calling and game plans haven’t helped either. The kid has effectively been shackled by the offensive brain trust’s attempts to protect him.
Jake is a down-the-field passer, yet the Cougars have seemingly failed to game-plan to his strengths, dramatically limiting him in what he is allowed to do.
Heaps isn’t blameless in all of this, though.
At times he has shown flashes of his ability and that golden arm of his, but for the most part he has been surprisingly inconsistent in his accuracy throwing the ball.
He has been off target far too often for a BYU signal caller, often throwing behind his receivers.
The interception he threw in the second quarter on Saturday was atrocious, so was his effort to make the tackle after he threw it.
That pick-six changed the face of the game.
The Cougars were driving with a chance to step on the necks of the Cowboys and go up 23-0 heading into the half.
Instead, the huge gaff and the ensuing fumble by another freshman, running back Josh Quezada, allowed Wyoming to score a late field goal to close the gap to 16-10 at the break despite mustering a whole minus-18 yards in total offense against the BYU defense.
That interception turned what would have been a likely blowout win for BYU into a nail-biter.
Instead of the freshman showing confidence developed over the last five games, he still looked like a deer in the headlights too many times on Saturday.
BYU has some time this week to work on themselves without having to worry about preparing for an opponent. It should be a valuable week for Heaps.