Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Riley Nelson and offensive coordinator and QB coach Brandon Doman present a classic case of Master vs. Apprentice. Doman quarterbacked BYU from 2000 to 2001. His final season, he had a pass efficiency rating of 159.7. In Nelson’s first two complete games at quarterback, he has a pass efficiency rating of 159.7.
Doman and Nelson have more in common than playing the same position at the same school. They play this position with a style that is rarely seen at BYU. In addition to the fine pass efficiency rating, Doman had 456 yards and 8 touchdowns rushing in 2001. Nelson is a runner, too. He has 222 yards rushing already this year.
Will the Apprentice outdo the Master? Who will go down in Cougarlore as the better QB?
For the entire season, Nelson’s pass efficiency is, actually, better than Doman’s. Nelson has a 161.5 rating completing 44 of 72 passes (61.1%) for 618 yards and 8 touchdowns with 3 interceptions. Of Nelson’s 222 yards rushing, 152 have come in the last two games. If Nelson continues that 76 yards per game average over the final six games (assuming a bowl game), then he will finish this year with 678 yards rushing—222 yards more than Doman had in 2001.
In fairness to Doman, he had a 185 pass efficiency rating through the first three games of 2001. He also had 160 rushing yards and three touchdowns, which means the Domanator was on pace for 693 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns.
Doman was 14-2 (87.5%) as a starter at BYU. Nelson is 3-1 as a starter in games he played more than two quarters. (He started the Florida State game—BYU lost 34-10—in 2010, but left with an injury five plays into the second quarter.) Six more wins this year would give Nelson a 9-1 record (90%).
Over the next six games, Nelson will face the same challenge Doman did in 2001—to sustain his level of play.
This Master vs. Apprentice showdown, however, won’t end this year. Nelson is just a junior. If this showdown is still worth following at season’s end, then Nelson will probably start his senior year. With a strong round 2, the apprentice very well could finish his career further up the BYU quarterback totem poll than his master.
NOTE: Doman's passing stats in 2001 were: 261-408 (64%), 3,542 yards, 33 TD, 8 Int.
Doman's career stats are: 313-504 (62%), 4,354 yards, 35 TD, 14 Int., 152.0 Passer Rating
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