"I've never been benched. (Heaps) feels like he's been benched," Doman said. "But I've certainly been the backup before and I've certainly had to overcome some of those adversities. It's part of life. It's part of the deal. Things don't always just go right for you. If you believe that's going to happen, and you don't prepare for the other, then you're wrong. You're going to have some hard times. Jake right now is facing a wall. It's an opportunity for him to climb over it. It's not a wall that he can't climb over. Maybe he can take a sledgehammer and knock it down. He's got to get through it."
How did Heaps lose the starting job after playing so well at the end of last season?
Heaps said he takes full responsibility for his mistakes, and he makes no excuses. But he acknowledged that things have changed since he was playing.
The Cougars opened the 2011 campaign with hard-fought road games at Ole Miss and Texas, followed by a 54-10 loss to Utah at home, with Doman, a first-year offensive coordinator, calling the plays. Until the emergence in recent weeks of running back Michael Alisa, coupled with Nelson's running ability, BYU lacked a strong rushing attack.
"We see once we have productivity in our run game, it opens everything else up," Heaps said. "We're a lot more efficient as a football team. Everyone's getting experience, from our offensive coordinator all the way on down. Everyone's learning and growing together. Now we've got things figured out."
Since losing the starting job, Heaps has learned that "you can't really press things, you can't really force things. You've got to play within yourself, just go out there and have fun and play relaxed and have confidence in your abilities and your teammates' abilities."
Did he put too much pressure on himself?
"No. I don't think I put too much pressure on myself," Heaps said. "At the end of the day, once I got out there on the field, I wasn't as relaxed as I usually am. When it gets down to the core of it, it's just going out there, having fun and being confident and enjoying it. That's the biggest thing."
Because he was a high school phenom with scholarship offers from dozens of major programs, and because Nelson is only a junior, many are speculating that Heaps could leave BYU after this season.
"At this point, I really haven't given that any thought. It's too early to talk about that stuff," Heaps said. "I'm just focused on our team and helping us win and doing whatever I can to fulfill the role I have and do whatever is asked of me, whether I'm the starter or not. I'm going to give it all that I can and the other stuff will come later. It will work its way out."
Doman said he isn't concerned right now about the possibility of Heaps transferring.
"I hope he sticks around. I hope that I get to coach him all the way to the finish. I would suspect that will be the case, that he'll end up playing and doing great again," he said. "We just don't know when. I believe he's got that resolved in his own mind, but that's something he'll have to resolve in his mind, if he hasn't resolved it, in order for him to be great."
Doman, who knows all about being stranded on the sidelines, said he expects Heaps to be a better quarterback after going through this experience as a backup. "He's in the middle of a tough situation. I believe he'll overcome it and he'll learn some lessons that otherwise were unattainable in previous circumstances."
Cougars on the air
Idaho State (2-5) at BYU (5-2)
Saturday, 1 p.m. MT
Radio: 1160 AM, 102.7 FM
Games started: Heaps 5; Nelson 2
Pass efficiency rating: Heaps 97.68; Nelson 161.54
Comp-Att-Int: Heaps 100-185-5; Nelson 44-72-3
Completion pct.: Heaps 54.1; Nelson 61.1
Touchdown passes: Heaps 3; Nelson 8
Pass yds: Heaps 962; Nelson 618
Rush yds: Heaps 61; Nelson 222
Total offense: Heaps 901; Nelson 840
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