You gotta feel for the Aggies after last night (and other BYU football news)

October 1, 2011    By: Geoff J @ 5:46 pm   Category: Sports

BYU completed a shocking comeback with about 11 seconds to go en route to beating the the Utah State Aggies on Friday 27-24. The Cougars were playing generally solid defense against a good Aggies offense for most of the game but Jake Heaps and the BYU offense were getting killed (as usual). So the BYU coaching staff decided to put Riley Nelson into the game near the end of the third quarter with BYU losing 24-13. Nelson was actually the starting quarterback at USU his freshman season before leaving on a mission. Nelson decided to transfer to BYU after his mission. It was a controversial transfer — so much so that the NCAA instituted a new rule after the transfer requiring RM’s to sit out a year if they transfer after the mission. Anyway, this game seemed over before Heaps was benched and Nelson came in. BYU appeared to have no chance of coming back with Heaps at QB. But obviously BYU could come back with Nelson.

So with that I’d say BYU has a new starting QB. If Heaps wants to start again he’ll have to earn it.

Some thoughts on the game:

– Not sure what happened to Heaps but not only is he worse now than he was last year, he has been getting progressively worse every game this season. The kid was atrocious last night.
– Final QB ratings for last night: Nelson – 205, Heaps – 72
– While Bronco hasn’t named Nelson the starter yet it would be shocking if he didn’t
– Heaps weaknesses sharply contrast Nelsons strengths: Nelson is quick and tough and savvy. Heaps is molasses slow and wimpy/skittish.
– However Heaps has a great arm and Riley has a sub-par arm. Heaps could be the starter again this season if he earns it or if Nelson falls flat on his face. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a return of some of both playing down the stretch.
– The BYU defense was decent but not great last night. Too many big runs given up including an 80 yard TD run in the first play of the game. But some huge hits and stops when BYU needed them too.
– Special teams had a mediocre night. Missed a FG and there was a really bonehead punt return by Falslev near the end. But no game-losing mistakes obviously.
– Did you see how much the running game opened up when Riley came in? Defenses had to account for one more guy.
– Turns out receivers have been getting open all season. Heaps just misses them by panicking and unloading his fastball way too early. Probably because he is so slow he can’t evade even slow fat defensive linemen right now. But it appears Heaps hasn’t even been going through his progressions and looking at all receivers all season as well.
– Riley throws ducks at times but if you buy enough time guys get wide open so ducks work
– Jake has one pitch lately — the fastball. He puts so much mustard on it guys can’t always catch even when he doesn’t horribly miss them.
– Lots of easy games coming up. Will be interesting to see what the coaching staff does with the QB playing time.

Also, the rumor mill went crazy last week regarding BYU to the Big12. Based on my sorting of the rumors here is where I think things stand:

– It sounds like the Big12 and BYU have reached an agreement. Just need to put things in writing and finalize. Could happen this week.
– Rumor has it BYU’s already scheduled games with ESPN will stay intact. That includes the 12 year series just signed with Boise State.
– I doubt the rumor that Utah was trying to get 2-1 deals with BYU going forward but it is out there. However it is possible BYU-Utah could miss some years.
– Sounds like Missouri will stay in the Big12 so BYU would be team #10. WVU and Lousville most likely candidates to get the conference to 12.

And finally, watch this amusing Ode To Riley’s Hair. Made me laugh.


  1. It seems to me that Jake has lost his nerve. I don’t know what has happened, but he still throws as pretty a spiral as you will see anywhere. Let’s hope that this is the kick in the pants he needs to get his fire back.

    But then it could just be history. BYU’s best have all been guys who could make it up as they went along, and they all had the killer instinct. We saw that killer instinct from Riley.

    Vai Sikahema’s criticism of Jake early in the season, even though not explicit, means more than maybe even he intended. If you watch replays of Jake’s interceptions, he doesn’t try to run the guy down. That reminds me of one of Steve Young’s bad years for the 49ers. Somebody else on the team described Young and interceptions as a “good news, bad news” story. The good news? Every time Young threw an interception, he tackled the guy who got the pick. The bad news? Young was the leading tackler on the team.

    Comment by CS Eric — October 1, 2011 @ 8:35 pm

  2. Love the video (and love Nelson’s honor-code violating hair).

    It was a fun 4th quarter and Nelson’s scrambling really adds another dimension to the offense. It looked like some of his runs were called by Doman and others were improvised. But I worry about his ability to succeed to the same degree with teams planning ahead for him. He lacks, as you note, a strong arm (a seeming necessity to successfully QB a BYU offense).

    I guess the best-case scenario is that Heaps responds to this as a personal challenge and works hard to correct his errors and right his plummeting confidence and regains his coaches and teammates’ trust (and the starting spot) as the season progresses, setting him (and BYU more generally) up for an improved season next year.

    Comment by Christopher — October 1, 2011 @ 8:53 pm

  3. Didn’t think ST were bad. Yeah he shanked that field goal attempt but it was pretty far out anyway.

    Heaps problem is that the opposing defense just needs to watch where he’s looking. It’s even worse when you watch the game in person because you can see all the open spots he could throw. Instead he’s just trying to get the ball off. I thought that perhaps some of the blame could go to the O Line but honestly he had plenty of time to get off those throws. That was highlighted even more by Nelson who made the most of the time he had.

    I don’t know what happened with Heaps. Even if some of the blame is on Doman the fact his that Heaps psychologically lost it somewhere.

    The Defense missed some basic tackles that they just should have made. Some of that was I think exhaustion from having Heap styled 3 and out possessions. Some of it was losing hope and feeling like they had to win the game by themselves. I noticed that once Nelson got the team excited the Defense played much better too.

    Some of Doman’s play calling made zero sense. When Nelson was getting the crowd into the game and looking good we get three running plays? What the heck? With the third being Di Luigi up the center? I was pretty furious about that.

    Give Nelson a ton of credit. And the crowd really was going wild, chanting his name. I don’t know how much of that came through on the TV. However at the same time he got lucky. Two of his big plays shouldn’t have worked. Although that last play that one the game did, I think have a PI flag thrown had Mathews not caught the tip.

    However a lot of this was like our game against Texas. Once the quarterback changed it was hard for their defense to adjust. Come next week the Defenses will be looking at film of this week and last year to figure out Nelson’s weaknesses. Still he did what needed to get done which was to fire up the team. Fortunately we have some easy games to help get Nelson up to speed.

    I’d heard the Big 12 was a done deal but then I’ve been hearing today that the Board of Directors (i.e. the GAs) have been putting in more restrictions about Sunday play and play during Conference that the Big 12 have been balking at. Rumor is that’s the remaining holdup.

    I’ve heard TCU is the other team beside BYU.

    Comment by Clark — October 1, 2011 @ 9:42 pm

  4. TBW – regarding the rushing the field. I bet no one would have done it had the announcer not kept going on over the PA saying “don’t rush the field.” Negative psychology and all.

    A lot of people were giving us heck about doing it against Utah State. But it wasn’t because we beat Utah State. It was because we had a QB who played with some heart finally. (Having a Doman styled mobile quarterback was nice though too – but as I said I think Nelson got lucky at some key times and had the advantage of surprise. He won’t have that in the future.)

    Comment by Clark — October 1, 2011 @ 9:46 pm

  5. Hope & Change:
    Hope Heaps gets some (uh…) spunk back. If not, hope this game is the change for Riley’s lackluster inconsistency of the past. Congrats ARE due to him, though. I hoped he would be majorly pumped if given the chance to go against his old team. (He looked that way on the sidelines.) He inspired his team & played w/ heart. Glad he did.
    Even though STAT-wise BYU looked very decent, we still needed a miracle play. But, I’ll take it.

    Comment by wally bob — October 2, 2011 @ 12:01 am

  6. It’s time to cut Heaps and hire a new quarterback. And Nelson? I’m appalled that all those fans could cheer for a guy whose hair is obviously a violation of everything that BYU stands for.

    Comment by Mark B. — October 2, 2011 @ 2:58 am

  7. A lot of people were hoping Lark would go in. However the fact he’s the third string makes me suspect he’s not nearly as good as these people hope.

    Someone told me that an other problem is that Doman was attempting this season to use a timing offense often used in the Pros but that is difficult at best for college ball to master. I’ve no idea if that’s true. If it is then the tendency of Heaps to throw before his players are in position is that much worse.

    Still for all of Nelson’s problems (we remember last year) the fact he is mobile helps open up the running game. Admittedly we don’t have running backs with the size or talent as in previous years. But I think having a running game is pretty important if we want to be able to throw the ball well.

    Comment by Clark — October 2, 2011 @ 8:16 am

  8. Hehe. Perhaps Nelson’s hair has a righteous Samson-like effect Mark D.

    Comment by Geoff J — October 2, 2011 @ 1:53 pm

  9. I wonder if Nelson’s hair will be nicely trimmed by the next game (homecoming) since he will now be their starting quarterback.

    Comment by Clint C — October 2, 2011 @ 6:01 pm

  10. I was sure they had somebody who could play better than Heaps has been lately.

    Comment by Mark D. — October 3, 2011 @ 11:48 am

  11. I thought that USU was actually the more talented and better coached team. I was very impressed by USU and I think the rest of their season will be different.

    Kudos to Doman for having the guts to pull Heaps. Jake is a great guy and has a great arm — but there is no touch at all. Riley inspired the team. The problem there is that a lot of that was emotion and sheer dumb luck that isn’t replicable by good execution week in and week out. His wonderful throw to McKay Jacobsen could as easily have been picked off — ditto the last TD.

    Once again Geoff’s summary was spot on (why can’t he do that with doctrinal issues?).

    Comment by Blake — October 3, 2011 @ 4:31 pm

  12. Once again Geoff’s summary was spot on (why can’t he do that with doctrinal issues?).

    Ha! We all wish we knew the answer to that one Blake…

    Comment by Geoff J — October 3, 2011 @ 10:15 pm

  13. Quick question on Lark. When does he graduate? I know he got off his mission in 2010. Given that and the fact Nelson isn’t going on a mission aren’t they both about on par for being “the future of BYU QB”?

    Comment by Clark — October 4, 2011 @ 7:53 am

  14. Whoops, Heaps isn’t going on a mission…

    Comment by Clark — October 4, 2011 @ 7:54 am

  15. Since TCU got added to the Big-10, as predicted, there are now a bunch of stories that they’ve decided not to add BYU.

    Comment by Clark — October 7, 2011 @ 1:51 pm

  16. Oops, the current game I thought started at 11:30 tonight was 11:30 this morning.

    But, another close one, pulled out at the end.

    Comment by Stephen M (Ethesis) — October 8, 2011 @ 1:32 pm