BYU Football: Cougars Find a Quarterback in Exciting Comeback Win
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(Updated for accuracy thanks to Scott Lambson who pointed out that Riley Nelson has one more year of eligibility thanks to his medical redshirt.)
Everyone is talking about the exciting comeback win that Riley Nelson led last night, and rightly so because it was very impressive. He came off the bench and immediately inserted more energy into the team than they had shown all year.
While I still don't particularly like Nelson's style of play, he is clearly the better choice over Jake Heaps for this team. This may prove to be a long-term solution with Nelson being granted a medical redshirt last season giving him one more year, but it will definitely make this first year of independence a little more enjoyable.
So what happens to Jake Heaps now?
I don't think we will know for quite some time. With that extra year of eligibility for Nelson, and assuming that he keeps the job that he clearly won last night, that leaves Heaps with only one year after Nelson graduates.
James Lark had a pretty good fall and supposedly almost beat out Nelson as the number two quarterback. He has a few years of eligibility left, and it may be worth giving him a shot.
You also have Tanner Mangum coming in the near future who has been almost as hyped as Heaps was, which apparently can be good or bad. From what I saw watching the Elite 11, Mangum has all of the tools, and a whole lot more humility than Heaps.
What direction should BYU go with their QB?
Heaps is proving to be a victim of his own hype and sense of entitlement. He has shown moments of pure brilliance followed by unexplainable decisions, and balls that are nowhere near receivers.
The announcers last night kept talking about how the receivers were making plays for Nelson that they weren't making for Heaps. While there have been an inordinate number of drops this season, the reality is that Nelson's throws, while not as pretty, were in a position for them to make a play, as opposed to Heaps who loved to over and under throw his receivers all the time.
I can't help but wonder if Jake even stays at BYU assuming Nelson keeps the starting job. He has clearly lost the support of the fans, and the players as well based upon how they rallied around Nelson last night.
As much as Heaps has talked, and hyped himself, starting with that news conference a few years back, I would not be surprised to see him leave and try and find some success elsewhere. I realize this is purely a snap judgement and is more of a thought than what I think will actually happen, but it does make for interesting discussion.
While the defense has largely been getting a pass due to the ineptitude of the offense so far, they do have a few areas that need to be addressed.
First, since when did they have so much trouble tackling. Players are regularly just throwing their shoulders trying to make a tackle instead of wrapping up which has led to numerous almost stops turning into first downs, and big plays.
Second, still no pressure on the quarterback. Utah State didn't throw the ball a whole lot, but they had all the time in the world when they did throw. This has been a continuous theme all season. Luckily, the tough part of the schedule is past so they will probably get away with it for now.
Lastly, have you ever seen so many wide open receivers? We keep hearing about the talented secondary that we have, yet there are consistently receivers without a defender within 10 yards of them. I know we play a bend-don't-break defense, but as much as anything, we have been lucky that teams haven't really torn us apart in the passing game.
A win is a win, though beating a team that hasn't beat you at home in 33 years really doesn't deserve storming the field. It was awesome to see some energy in the offense for the first time this season, and I look forward to seeing a full game of that same energy next week
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