BYU quarterback Riley Nelson needs to listen to Steve Young

Thirty years ago, Steve Young was the Brigham Young Cougars quarterback. He went on to have a hall of fame career in the NFL. Now, Young is an analyst for ESPN. In that capacity, Young appeared on the ESPN program Pardon the Interruption last night. Hopefully, current BYU quarterback Riley Neslon was listening. Young’s parting words on that program were sage advice to any quarterback who runs the ball.

Although Young was a consensus All-American quarterback at BYU and is now part of the college football hall of fame, his work with ESPN is, primarily, NFL analysis. The questions he fielded from the show’s co-hosts Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser related to Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick and Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III. Nevertheless, they had application to the Cougars’ signal caller.

Griffin has made a splash in his NFL debut. He has the potential to be the complete package. He can throw the ball well, and is a skilled runner. When asked what element of his game Griffin needed to eliminate, Young said he needed to learn how to be smart all of the time, which entails learning how to fall and avoid hits and get out of tough situations. Young stressed this point of avoiding contact and keeping your body out of precarious situations. He explained the quarterback was the leader of the offense, and the other 10 players needed him to get up, come back to the huddle, and be ready to throw the ball well. If a quarterback runs, he can’t run into defenders no matter how much of a competitor his is or how much he wants to prove his toughness. A quarterback will not take his team to the championship because of a play he makes running the ball.

Despite missing two and a half games already this season due to injury, Nelson was on the field last Saturday running into defenders time, after time, after time. Some of the hits he took made you cringe. Although BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall said on Monday that Nelson was healthy enough “to be taken off the injury report and the trainer’s list,” his style of play could quickly get him back on the list.

Nelson has long been criticized for making errors in tough situations. Just last week against Oregon State, Nelson threw an interception inside the 20-yard line when he should have just thrown the ball away. The interception cost his team points at a critical juncture in the game.

BYU coaches have tried to get Nelson to avoid contact when running, but to no avail. In fact, Nelson enjoys joking with reporters about his need to be hit to feel comfortable in a game. Maybe, just maybe, a NFL Hall of Fame quarterback who is part of the BYU QB Fraternity and is the greatest dual-threat quarterback in the history of the game can get through to him.

After all, as Kornheiser said following the segment, Young is really smart.  

Steve Young's full five minutes on PTI can be heard by clicking here starting at the 10:00 minute mark.

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