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PROVO -- At BYU's fall scrimmage on Saturday, it was a new sight to see quarterback Riley Nelson wearing a blue jersey, opening him to take hits from the defense.
Getting to hit the quarterback, especially so close to opening day, is unusual. Teammate Brian Logan, while loving the more physical play, admitted it was weird seeing Nelson with the blue jersey on and thought it was telling of Nelson's talent and what he had to offer the team, particularly on offense.
Coach Mendenhall clearly thought it was a good idea saying, "We thought the risk was worth it, not only to him but to improve our team, so it's great to have him take a few hits and then have to get up and throw the football or run around."
Nelson agreed, "We figured that I'm probably going to get hit eventually in this season and if we're going to have designed quarterback runs and things like that, I gotta get used to contact. That was the main goal, to be able to take those hits, hold onto the ball- get used to them so that when we get into the season we don't have any problems with ball security."
As BYU ran running plays specifically for Nelson, Bronco declared the quarterback race dead even. Nelson had 39 yards rushing in Saturday's scrimmage and a touchdown pass. Jake Heaps was 8 for 11 passing for 55 yards.
Nelson says the team's preparedness for the opener with Washington is excellent.
"Our team is very good at focusing on the moment and when it's us working on our stuff, playing against our defense, playing against each other, we're very focused and intense in that situation," Nelson said. "And then once the coaches say ‘alright let's turn our focus to Washington,' then we'll turn our focus 100% to Washington and be ready to go. We're definitely excited and pumped to go."
While Nelson was excited, Coach Mendenhall was slightly cautious, stating, "My biggest issue right now, and I think ours as a team, is just consistency. We're streaky. We're hot and cold and just trying to get all the moving parts synched up at the same time."