This week in Mountain West play there are questions surrounding the quarterback situation from BYU, Utah, and UNLV. All three situations are different in that BYU is having a tough time deciding between the two quarterbacks since both played well, Utah might be without starter Jordan Wynn due to injury, and UNLV is looking for an effective quarterback to lead the team.
BYU has upper classmen Riley Nelson who is more of a mobile quarterback where as Jake Heaps is a more polished passer and was the top quarterback recruit in the country last year. The two posted nearly identical stats with the exception of Nelson tossing two touchdown passes to Heaps zero. The two alternating series for series and it worked well for week one, but how long can it last before one gets frustrated because they had a great drive, or if teammates start favoring one quarterback over another which could result in a split locker room.
Two quarterback systems rarely ever work and this case will be no different, because there are many a stories where the two quarterback system failed terribly. A choice needs to be made and since the Washington game did not provide any separation between the two expect the same alternating back and forth between the two. A quarterback change will most likely come when one of the two makes a mistake instead of out playing the other. A logical choice would be to follow what Florida did under Urban Meyer when Tim Tebow was a freshman where Chris Leak was the starter and Tebow came in as a change of pace player. This works perfect with BYU since Heaps is a great passer where Nelson is more of a double threat, and Gordon Monson of The Salt Lake Tribune points this out with some laughable word play:
It's easier to get your mitts around over the short term, or in specific situations, such as Heaps as the starter and Nelson as the Wild Cougar. But Mendenhall insists that the Nelson-Heaps 50-50 split could go on and on and on through the entire season. And if it goes on through the entire season, then does it go on through all of next season, too, until Nelson graduates?
Side note I know Gordon Monson from working with him at 1280 The Zone and him using the phrase 'Wild Cougar' is just hilarious. He makes a good point, what if neither quarterback separates themselves and this dual system continues as the norm. The last time BYU had a great quarterback recruit it was Ben Olson, but he was lied and treated badly under Gary Crowton and transferred of to UCLA to rarely play due to injury.
The Utah situation is iffy as well since Jordan Wynn suffered a thumb injury on his throwing hand and is listed as day-to-day. Different reports said Wynn injured his hand in the early part of the Pitt game, so that may be good news since he finished the game and performed well. It also may have been adrenaline running through his body with the opening game against a top 15 Pitt team.
The backup is Terrance Cain who was the best quarterback in camp and went 7-1 as Utah's starting quarterback last year before Jordan Wynn took over the reigns. If Cain is called upon on to start or play a significant amount of time the coaching staff has confidence in Cain to lead this team:
"He has a year now under his belt in our system and he has grown exponentially and really understands what we are trying to do," Johnson said. "He is playing with a ton of confidence. Everything in the game has slowed down for him and he is more confident and that is what you need if you are going to be in a starting position. I'm proud of him."
The third quarterback situation that is uncertain is UNLV where Mike Clausen was named the starter over Omar Clayton who had been the starter the past two years, and that experiment lasted just over two quarters before being pulled. Clayton came and had better numbers then Clausen and became the teams leading rusher in his short cameo appearance.
Clayton looked much better by making calls at the line to change the play which was something Clausen did not do at all in the first half of action. Plus, Clayton is a mobile quarterback and was able to extend some plays for a positive game.
UNLV head coach Bobby Hauck has not named a started and said both will play against Utah:
"In terms of the quarterback job, specifically, we'll look at it this week and we'll kind of go through practice and make a decision as to who will start Saturday, but I'd assume both of them will play,"