Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Jake Heaps has had a rough start to his sophomore season. As is the case for almost any quarterback who has a rough stretch, some are calling for Heaps to be benched. Should he lose the starting job? BLUE COUGAR FOOTBALL looks at five reasons to bench him, and five reasons to keep starting Heaps.
1. 100.5. Heaps’ pass efficiency rating in 2011 is 100.5. He is the 110th rated passer in college football at this point. No Cougar passer who has attempted 160 passes in a season has had a passer rating this low since 1970. Heaps’ efficiency last year was 116.2. His completion percentage is down, his yards per attempt is down, and his TD to Interception ratio is far worse.
2. Ole Miss Pick 6. Heaps nearly blew the game against Ole Miss when he threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown. Trailing 3-0 in the third quarter, BYU was poised to score a touchdown and take the lead. Heaps threw a pass towards the end zone. It was intercepted and returned 96 yards to extend the Rebels lead to 10-0.
3. Second Half Collapse in Texas. BYU had a 10 point lead at halftime against the Texas Longhorns. In the second half, Heaps was 6 of 14 passing for only 39 yards and one interception. BYU managed just a field goal in the second half and lost the game by one point.
4. Free TD for Utah. Heaps gave Utah a free touchdown on the third play of the game. Sure, it all started with a bad shotgun snap, but Heaps could have prevented a Utah touchdown, twice. First, the ball slipped out of his hand as he tried to throw the ball away. Second, he could have fallen on the ball in the end zone, or kicked it out of the end zone, for a safety. Instead, he was more concerned about getting out of the way than taking care of the ball.
5. Missed a wide open McKay Jacobson. In the second half of the UCF game, Heaps had a golden opportunity for a touchdown that would have tied the game 10-10. Jacobson was wide open at the goal line. Heaps threw a Todd Mortensen-esque pass that completely missed Jacobson. BYU ended up punting.
In every game this year, Heaps has done something egregious that makes you wonder if Heaps can get the job done. His pass efficiency rating indicates that he is regressing, not progressing.
1. 242.6. At Colorado State last year, Heaps posted a 242.6 pass efficiency rating. That is the eighth highest single game pass efficiency rating in BYU history. The seven games better were games by Ty Detmer, Max Hall, Steve Young, Marc Wilson, Gifford Nielsen, John Beck, and Steve Sarkisian. None of these quarterbacks were duds. Most of them had their ultra efficient game as a senior. Heaps was just a freshman.
2. Second half at Ole Miss. Other than the pick 6, Heaps played a great second half against Ole Miss. Without the interception, Heaps was 13-15, 151 yards, 1 TD for a 193.2 pass efficiency. With the interception, Heaps’ efficiency rating is still 168.7. On the road in hostile SEC territory, Heaps was playing high quality football.
3. 97-yard touchdown drive. As bad as Heaps was in the second half of the Texas game, he was that good in the first half. He accumulated 153 yards passing. The highlight of the first half was a 97-yard touchdown drive. Heaps was 6-8 for 81 yards on the drive, which culminated in a 6-yard touchdown pass.
4. The rest of the first half. After the free touchdown for Utah on the game’s first series, Heaps settled down and had a really good first half. He passed for 209 yards and a touchdown in the first 30 minutes. He was averaging over 9 yards per attempt. Despite losing two more fumbles, this time by running backs, Heaps guided the Cougars back to take a 10-7 lead at one point.
5. Todd Mortensen. Mortensen is the infamous quarterback who missed (by a mile) a wide open receiver during an ugly blowout in the Crowton era. He left BYU for the University of San Diego and was coached by Jim Harbaugh for one season. When Harbaugh was through with Mortensen, the New England Patriots and Detroit Lions were interested enough to sign him as a free agent. Mortensen never started a game for BYU. If good coaching could get him an NFL contract, then what could it do for Heaps?
At times this year, Heaps has played very well. In almost every game, he has done something to give us reason to believe he should be the man, or at least that he is the best BYU has.
While everyone can agree that Heaps needs to play better, benching him might not be the best alternative. BYU has never had a very good season when multiple quarterbacks were used. BYU will be worse off in 2012 if the quarterback position becomes instable.
The key seems to be coaching. Heaps has done enough good to demonstrate that he is capable of being a very good college quarterback. His errors and inefficiencies can be corrected through good coaching. His weaknesses can become strengths. The best course for the future is to get Heaps the coaching that he needs to consistently play well and reach his full potential.
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