5 Reasons to Bench Heaps, 5 Reasons to Keep Starting Heaps

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.

The Editor appreciates all feedback. He can be reached via email at bluecougarfootball@gmail.com


  1. Great post Scott! I agree that the key is coaching, which leads me to something I have been thinking about. Everyone is saying how it is better for Brandon Doman to be up in the booth, but I am not convinced. At least, not yet. Yes, when he finally went up to the booth, we scored more points (2 Offensive TDs and a Field Goal), had a better run game, and won. But Jake Heaps looked his very worse - with an extremely low completion percentage. And while we did score more, the TDs came off of short fields (a very short field for the second one) set up by special teams, whereas in each of the previous games we had at least one long, sustained scoring drive.

    Let's not forget that while Doman is the offensive coordinator, he is also the quarterbacks coach, and I think that Heaps personally benefits more from having him on the sidelines than in the booth.

    This also raises the question: could it be that Heaps is struggling more than expected this year because Doman's new responsibilities are taking away from the one on one attention that a young developing quarterback needs? Could it be that being the offensive coordinator (and specifically, LEARNING HOW TO BE the offensive coordinator) is too demanding for Doman to be able to also be the quarterbacks coach? I'm not saying that Doman doesn't have what it takes meet the demands of offensive coordinator, I'm just saying it might be to much to expect him to ALSO be the quarterbacks coach.

    When I first heard the Doman would remain the quarterbacks coach, I thought this was a good idea, as it would provide some continuity and stability for Heaps as he continues to progress. I'm beginning to think otherwise, however. I think Doman as offensive coordinator was a good move, but Heaps, and the other quarterbacks, need a more personalized coaching experience. They need to hire a separate quarterbacks coach. Maybe Ty Detmer, or perhaps they could lure Steve Young away from his cushy job as an ESPN analyst. I don't know, just some thoughts.

  2. I agree about Doman not being better in the booth. BYU only had 260 yards total offense, easily the second worse of the season. Special teams really set up the 2 TDs.

    As for Steve Young, he does more than analysis for ESPN. Visit the Cougar Chasing page to find out about Young's day job.

  3. I have watched other quarterbacks sacrifice themselves to make a play after throwing an interception, while Heaps does not appear to be willing to do it. Are we walking on egg-shells to protect Heaps and his fragile psyche? Remember he got married this summer and he may have lost some of his competitive fire.

  4. I think that after tonights performance it is obvious that Heaps confidence is shot and he needs to sit for a while and regroup. I can't imagine the pressure he was under to start the season. BYU fans were talking about how this would be his breakout year and he would become an all time BYU great, win the Heisman and a National Championship. I think the coaching staff should have lessened the expectations. He still has not beaten a team over .500. I think he got a false sense of confidence and improvement last year that was mostly attributable to a softening schedule. Let Riley Nelson take the reigns for a few games and slowly work Jake into the game plan. The competition for the remaining games, except TCU and a possible bowl game, are soft to say the least!


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