Riley Nelson Should Start When Healthy

The quarterback position is, once again, the center of attention for the Brigham Young Cougars. Against Idaho, junior Riley Nelson, who had started the last five games, left the game in the first quarter with a broken rib and pneumothorax. Sophomore Jake Heaps, who started the first five games, played well in Nelson’s absence, and BYU cruised to a 42-7 victory.

In Cougar Nation, this turn of events can mean only one thing: an all out debate over who should be the starting quarterback.

While some people might want to make this complicated, this time around it is not. Almost two years have passed since the starting quarterback position became a question. With everything that has played out on the field over this time, the clear cut decision for head coach Bronco Mendenhall and offensive coordinator Brandon Doman is to start Nelson when he is healthy. That goes for the rest of 2011 and 2012.

In five games this year, Nelson has demonstrated the ability to lead the BYU offense at a high level against anyone. More importantly, the offense comes closer to reaching its full potential with Nelson behind center.

The offensive personnel for BYU won’t be very different in 2012. The only significant losses are two offensive linemen (Matt Reynolds and Terence Brown). Running backs Bryan Kariya and J.J. Di Luigi, and wide receiver McKay Jacobson will all graduate. While all three are familiar names, they won’t be key losses. Kariya and Jacobson are fifth on the team at their respective positions. Di Luigi is splitting reps with sophomore Michael Alisa.

Playing Nelson at quarterback is the best way to avoid a slow start and inconsistent play in 2012.

The Editor appreciates all feedback. He can be reached via email at


  1. "In five games this year, Nelson has demonstrated the ability to lead the BYU offense at a high level against anyone."

    Except against TCU, the one good team he played. Also helps when you have a running game to work with.

  2. If we don't beat USU our program would be on the ropes. Heaps could not beat USU. With that loss looming over him, he would not have beat SjSU. Heaps never scored 28 points in a game, which Riley did against TCU. The future is NOW. Potential is like a wish. You can wish in one hand and spit in the other and see which fills up first. Start Riley until he graduates. He's a winner.

  3. Nelson didnt score 28 points against TCU get your facts straight. One of the td's was a punt return. Another was in garbage time on a bogus pass inter call on TCU that was intercepted.

    " Riley is a Winner"? What team has Riley beat this year that is worth anything? He has played against terrible competition.

    Riley hasnt proven jack crap this year except that he can beat sisters of the poor. Jake would have has the same if not better performances agaisnt those teams.

  4. get real.... time and time again riley folds under pressure. he is a great athlete..... but not a great QB. Jake has had his share of bad plays, but really.... he is the future

  5. "time and time again riley folds under pressure"

    You need to explain yourself. I can only think of one time that Riley "folded" and that was forcing the screen pass to Holt against TCU that turned into a backwards lateral.


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