To read more writings by The Editor, you can visit: collegefootballhaven12.blogspot.com
BYU is half way through spring practices. Time for a mid-term progress report.
1. Quiet on the defensive front. The defensive side of the ball is not generating much noise. The one exception is Kyle Van Noy. He has turned heads at outside linebacker. It sounds like he might start opposite Jordan Pendleton. If so, let's hope Van Noy is the real deal. Opposing offenses will test him.
2. Harvey Unga is losing playing time? Newcomer Joshua Quezada is running his way up the depth chart. If he continues to progress, he could see significant playing time this year. A duel threat backfield with Unga and Quezada could rival the Jamal Willis-Kalin Hall or Brian McKenzie and Ronny Jenkins one-two punches that we had in the nineties.
3. Down for the count. The offensive line has gotten thinner. Famika Anae tore his ACL and will be out for the year. The o-line was already thin, and this injury makes a spring game more unlikely. This leads me to the question, why does BYU have so few offensive linemen? They might not get much attention in the press, but, I thought that coaches tried to go at least three deep because the line is so crucial. I remember on my high school team, pretty much any lineman trying out would make the team if he could stick it out. You can't ever have too many linemen.
4. The Quarterbacks. Last, but not least, is the quarterback battle. Anyone staying current on spring practice can tell you that Jake Heaps is making a strong case for the starting quarterback position. His stats are far and away better than Riley Nelson and James Lark. The coaching staff speaks very positively about him.
While this is all fine and dandy, before we all anoint Heaps as the second coming of Ty Detmer, we don't have all the facts. We don't know how much Heaps is playing against the first or second defensive unit. We don't know how complicated the defensive schemes have been. We don't know how much of the playbook Heaps knows. We don't know what the coaches are doing. I have been reading former BYU tight end Chad Lewis' new autobiography "Surround Yourself with Greatness," and when he described spring practice I got the impression that the coaches almost scripted practice to put specific players in specific situations to see what will happen. It is possible that the coaches are putting Heaps in a better situation to succeed as a passer, while Nelson and Lark are being put in situations that are scripted runs or less glamorous passing needs.
As for Nelson, let's not write him off yet. He might have earned the label "running quarterback" last year by scrambling on several designed pass plays, but "running quarterbacks" have been successful in BYU's offense. That includes the current quarterbacks coach Brandon Doman. Doman was third string in 2000 when injuries to Brett Engemann and Charlie Peterson forced the coaches to start Doman for the last two games. Doman won both games to pull BYU to a 6-6 finish. The next year Doman started the season 12-0. Although Doman did not fit the "BYU mold" he was a winner, and that proved to be more important. I wonder how much Doman's experience is weighing on him as he evaluates the quarterbacks.