BYU Spring football kicks off on March 14th. I for one can never get enough football, so there are several points I am pondering as the Cougars head into practices. This is the first in a series of short thoughts on some key points for the Cougars going into the beginning of the 2011 season.
The first issue that deserves some attention is this issue of “choosing” a starting quarterback. I know that Coach Mendenhall has his game face on and the team is going into spring ball with the door to the starting spot open. In other words, there will be some kind of competiton for the spot. Part of me says that it is only fair given the team’s struggles last year. The other part of me (the much bigger and louder part) is screaming for them to just hand this thing over to Jake Heaps already. I like the idea of him earning the right to start, I just don’t want it to be cheapened by walking him through a charade of a quarterback competition before “officially” naming him the starter. I mean, you could say that he did enough in 2010 to earn the spot. He had some great games and stomached some very difficult times. But I suppose it would be unfair to Riley Nelson to just give Jake the keys and put Riley in charge of a clipboard. If they are serious about giving Nelson a shot at his old job, then they should let it be a real competiton. I don’t see Nelson surpassing Heaps at this point, but this competiton has to be legit or it will be counterproductive.
Like many of you, my gut says that Nelson could probably find somewhere else on the field to make an impact and get some playing time. Most of what I have heard has suggested Riley play in the defensive backfield. There have been a few mentions of him at tight end or running back. BYU does not need his services in the backfield. I am not convinced tight end is the right fit either. Frankly, I am not sure where he fits. I think he’ll find a way to make an impact, it just isn’t going to be under center.
Maybe I’ll be wrong. Maybe Nelson comes back and blows the coaching staff’s collective mind in spring ball. Luckily I don’t have to make the decision (luckily for Nelson, because I would have already picked Heaps). However, the most important point is this: the Cougars need to name a starting quarterback before the end of spring ball. He needs to be getting the first-string reps, building rapport with the receivers and running the offense; BYU can’t afford to drag this thing out into the summer.
So in summary: The QB competiton can be a good chance to let Jake Heaps show how much he has improved this past year. Doman seems to have alot of confidence in the sophomore QB and I think we are all hoping that this helps Heaps develop some more confidence on the field. The coaching staff needs to learn from last year’s experience and name the starting quarterback by the end of spring practice so they can get straight to work when they come back to begin preparation for the season. It’s not as much of a QB controversy as it is a chance to let Heaps win the starting job in a fair fight.