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BYU Football at a Crossroads: Where to Go From Here?

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Last Saturday's loss to the Air Force Academy, 35-14, was one of the worst performances by a Bronco Mendenhall led BYU team.  You could make an argument it was the worst.

The loss to the Academy marked the first time BYU lost a Mountain West Conference game to a team not named TCU or Utah since 2005.  The last team outside of those two to get the Cougars in conference play was San Diego State.  That game against the Aztecs was a pivotal crossroads for the Bronco Mendenhall era.

Many Cougar fans believe after that game was the turning point in the program.  BYU went away from the Texas Tech air raid offense that had put up big-time statistics in the first four games of that '05 season, but little results.

Two conference championships, and one of the winningest programs over the last four seasons, its safe to say BYU made the right moves to turn the ship in the right direction after that loss on Montezuma Mesa.

Flash forward again to last Saturday, many question marks have popped up in the program after that abysmal performance.  How will Bronco handle it this go-around?

The big question is how will Bronco and the offensive staff handle the two-quarterback system that has now turned into a complete Quarterback controversy.

Under Mendenhall, there has never been a QB debate of this magnitude.  So this is all new to the staff and Bronco.

Riley Nelson is a warrior and has a tough grit to never give up on a play.  He is a terrific athlete and I feel a solid Quarterback.  His lack of arm strength though is a huge problem, which makes it hard for him to get the ball in the playmakers hands.

Nelson's time as the starter is waining thin because he had a entire half against Air Force to himself to get the job done.  And the offense was completely inept.  To the likes of which BYU Football fans have never seen before.  Lowest passing total since 2003, and that instance was with a fourth-string walk-on Quarterback.  To Nelson's credit, some of his playmakers have let him down by not catching the ball, or handling the rock loosely allowing it to get stripped.

At the end of the day, it appears that Nelson is what he is and the ceiling to improve isn't very high with him.  While on the flipside, Jake Heaps is the future and the guy has endless potential, and by all measures is the "franchise" player in this program.

So what does Bronco do?

Bronco needs to address this immediately.  After an embarrassing loss like that last week, there is going to be some cracks in the team and players are going to start choosing sides and there will be a divide.  Continuing to have a QB controversy will just make it worse.

Also, leave the offensive line as is.  No more switching the tackles.  Leave Matt Reynolds at left tackle and Braden Brown at right tackle.  Brown can handle it.

Then don't be afraid to bench some guys.  The Wide Receivers are playing poor, and this was supposed to be a strength.  O'Neil Chambers, Luke Ashworth, and even McKay Jacobson have played very poor.  If it continues, go to someone else.  The injury to Ross Apo is really hurting right now, because this would be his opportunity to shine.  Then defensively, Linebackers and Free Safety need to not be afraid of changing the personnel if players aren't performing.

This is a season where BYU needs to lay the groundwork for some big-time seasons in the coming years by identifying its playmakers.  If the guys who were expected to produce, continue to play beneath expectations go in another direction.

Should be an interesting week in Provo, to say the least.

As a BYU fan, I fully believe in Bronco.  Can't say the same for some on the staff (i.e. Robert Anae) but Bronco is the man in charge and he will get this ship back in the right direction.  But this week is a huge week to getting the ship back on track and forming an identity with this group of players.