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Reaffirming that BYU will take a "more specialized approach" to its quarterback rotation, Bronco Mendenhall said today he will give Riley Nelson the "first snap" at Florida State, adding that the decision on a starter does not mean Nelson will receive the most playing time against the Seminoles. Mendenhall made the comments on the weekly MWC Teleconference; you can hear all of Mendenhall's comments by clicking the link in the "Cougar Cuts" box below.
Mendenhall has been consistent in his assessment of the two quarterbacks battling for playing time. This was the coach this morning:
"I'm most comfortable with Riley sustaining drives, especially using his legs, using play-action off of that, and critical times in the game, he's very poised and mature. (With Jake), his ability to throw the football, his field vision, and just the type of accurate passer he is, as a pure talent."
Mendenhall, at yesterday's weekly press conference:
"(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."
This was Mendenhall after spring ball:
"I think it's becoming apparent to everyone Jake is really a natural, poised pocket passer and makes very good decisions. Riley gives the element of mobility and the grit and leadership that comes with that."
At the same time, Mendenhall hints that Heaps remains the "special" player that I believe the coach will turn to at some point this season to lead the Cougars. Mendenhall, yesterday:
"Jake is very, very capable and is going to be a fantastic player and probably this year."
Mendenhall, after spring ball:
"He's a great young man, an excellent leader... one of the brightest prospects at quarterback that I've seen. You forget that he's still a high school senior...he's everything I thought he would be and we're very fortunate that he's here."
A reminder: a true freshman straight out of high school has only ever started one game in BYU Football history--Drew Miller started the 8th game of the 1997 season. If and when Heaps starts a game this season, it likely won't be a one-shot deal; the only question is when that day will come.
From my stats guy Ralph Sokolowsky:
Riley Nelson is already 4th all-time in BYU quarterback career rushing yards.
Virgil Carter: 1,225 yds
Steve Young: 1,084 yds
Brandon Doman: 632 yds
Riley Nelson: 262 yds
Nelson's per-carry average of 5.35 yds is better than any of the top three.
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