Riley Nelson Has A Slight Edge In The BYU Quarterback Race

The lead is ever so slim, but comments from Bronco Mendenhall makes me believe that Riley Nelson is currently the leader to be the starting quarterback when BYU takes the field against Washington next week:

"So whichever one is helping our team perform the best, whichever one is best for the chemistry, and whichever one helps our leadership and can make plays. So it is a unique balance," he said.

Reading and listening to what people at BYU practice have said that when Jake Heaps has to abort the play or improvise he does not look good at all.  Whereas when Nelson has a play break down he is mobile enough to extend the play and make something out of nothing.  This could obviously change game week, but the reality is that BYU is only ten days away and the quarterback situation is no clearer then it was during spring ball.

A decision needs to be made by this weekend to say who will be the starter so that the first team offense is familiar with the cadence and style of play the quarterback.   Look for two quarterbacks to play in the opener, but to me if Heaps is the backup and gets some time in that game the opposing defense knows that Heaps is not as mobile and may bring more pressure.  Doing the opposite with Heaps as the starter and Nelson coming in for a change of pace is a bit different since Nelson is a mobile quarterback.

" I [Bronco Mendenhall] do know there are some pretty unique strengths that our quarterbacks have, and so as we get ready to play each opponent, you might have tempo changes, you might have plays that are a little bit different, or are tailored differently, and you might need just a change of momentum in a critical period of the game. All that is still under discussion."

The worst thing that BYU can do is follow what Utah did back in 2006 when their quarterback situation was very iffy with Brian Johnson redshirting while recovering from his torn ACL.  Utah played Bret Ratliff and Tommy Grady and were assigned specific drives and a pick six by Tommy Grady against UCLA in their home opener blew the game open for UCLA who routed the Utes.

Playing two quarterbacks is fine, but Bronco and offensive coordinator Robert Anae need to go with the flow of the game and not set in stone this drive or this quarter for who is going to play.  To me it looks like Riley Nelson will be starting the Washington game and expect Jake Heaps to get some playing time, but beyond the first game who knows who will be the starting quarterback.  If a choice is not made going into week three when BYU travels to Florida State the season could be in trouble.

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