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BYU head football coach Bronco Mendenhall confirmed that BYU's series-by-series quarterback platoon system is likely a thing of the past in his Monday morning press conference, which you can hear by clicking on the audio link in the "Cougar Cuts" box below.
In explaining the decision to keep Jake Heaps on the bench in favor of Riley Nelson for the entire second half of Saturday's loss at Air Force, Mendenhall said "we're trying to be as effective as possible in grooming and training (Heaps); it seemed wiser at that time just to play a little more experienced and mature young man, even though Jake is very, very capable and is going to be a fantastic player and probably this year. It just seemed wise to protect him a little bit in that game."
Moving forward, Mendenhall said his two-quarterback system will "probably move away from 'every other series mode' and reps might become more situational."
"We need to throw the ball more effectively than we currently are. If you look at the Air Force game, we ran the ball effectively but had very little success throwing the football. The Washington game was more representative of the balance I think we're hoping to get. In order to beat Florida State, it will have to be more toward the (Washington) plan than the (Air Force) plan, and that will probably affect which quarterback plays and how much (at Florida State)."
On his role in the QB rotation decision making process, Mendnenhall said:
"I met with our offensive staff this morning, just to kind of weigh in and give a bigger picture perspective. It's quite an interesting thing; the quarterbacks are so different in style, that really is providing the biggest challenge in terms of practice reps. The easy answer, would be because Jake is very similar to our previous quarterbacks in terms of ability, to do that and add Riley as the complement. Yet, Riley's current preparation in terms of maturity and maybe even leading the team is probably at a little bit higher level right now, even though the style is different. It's a very unique situation."
On whether or not to give the offensive coaches his opinion on quarterback deployment:
"I'm closer in having an opinion than I was the week before. I think it will be that way as the season goes on, as I get to see our team play and get to see the identity of our team come out. I've seen a big step internally in how I've felt from week one to week two. After not thinking it would be that way, it certainly could."
On the styles of the two quarterbacks:
"(Nelson) is a little bit more mature in terms of grit and leadership and command of the team, and (Heaps) has the potential of really throwing the football and being more of a traditional BYU quarterback, which is no surprise to anybody. Which teams we're playing might start to determine how the QBs are used and emphasized. It could very well end up being more situational based on opponents and their perceived strengths or weaknesses."
On whether Nelson's running game has long-term viability:
"I think it's a delicate balance, because it's what he does so well. But if you also look at the wear and tear, he probably couldn't hold that up for 12 games. There is going to have to be a complement of throwing the ball at a higher level for him to have the success he needs to, and for the point production to reach the level it needs to. While the running is effective and helps us maintain ball control and get first downs, it doesn't lead to points without throwing as well, so you have to have balance. If Riley remains in that role, getting the majority of the snaps, then the pass game will have to improve to complement the run game, otherwise I don't think anyone could sustain the wear and tear."
Talking about playing at Florida State, Mendenhall called it "one of the elite places to play in college football...as you see the schedule coming out down the road, there will be more and and more of these places, which I think will be a great thing for our program."
More on Saturday's matchup with the Seminoles:
"They look formidable from what I've seen on film. (QB Christian Ponder) is a good thrower and an excellent decision-maker. What surprised me most last year was his ability to scramble for first downs; that was very frustrating. He was more athletic than what I thought; I underestimated his mobility."
For all the attention on the BYU QBs, the Cougar defense had a historically tough time stopping the run at Air Force. Ralph Sokolowsky informs me that the Cadets' 409 rushing yards are the fifth-most allowed by BYU since 1972.
504 yds: TCU (1987; BYU lost 33-12)
454 yds: Hawaii (1993; BYU won 41-38)
440 yds: Colorado State (2001; BYU won 56-34)
439 yds: Wyoming (1976; BYU lost 34-29)
409 yds: Air Force (2010; BYU lost 35-14)