Comments about ‘Brad Rock: BYU Cougars need to move beyond the Riley Nelson era’

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Published: Thursday, Nov. 29 2012 3:45 p.m. MST

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I think I'm late on the board... But one of the commentators during the SJSU game made an interesting point about how small Riley's hands are, and it really got me thinking. I watch a lot of college football, and it is amazing how often quarterbacks take hits from the blind side without coughing up the football. Even though the lineman or backer hitting the QB is usually swatting down with both arms trying to strip the ball, it rarely happens. Except, of course, to Riley Nelson. Every time I saw pressure coming from the back side I closed my eyes in fear that it would be yet another fumble. And far more often than is usual, it was. I think much of that can be attributed to those small little hands of Riley's.

Really this is just another data point to justify the conclusion that we all (including Bronco and Riley) know very well: Riley is a fierce competitor and a great motivator, but his physical talents are not ideal for the QB position.

longtime fan
Salt Lake City, UT

I was excited to see James Lark finally get his chance to shine, and it's great that he had an outstanding day. I like to re-watch games after the fact so I can see the plays and evaluate the game without the emotion. After watching the New Mexico State game a second time this week, I have to say that they have one of the worst defenses I have seen in D1 football. I don't want to take anything away from Lark, but it is hard to gauge a QB's performance against the NMSU defense.
While Brad Rock and most BYU fans are awarding the Bowl game starting job to Lark, I hope the cougar coaches will ignore popular opinion, evaluate the film along with Riley's health, and choose the QB they think gives the team the best chance of winning against SDSU. I believe this is what they have tried to do all season. They may have chosen wrong in a couple cases, but we'll never know for sure without replaying the games. Whether it be Lark or Nelson, let the coaches decide--they are the best informed to make the decision.

Riverton Cougar
Riverton, UT

" I don't want to take anything away from Lark, but it is hard to gauge a QB's performance against the NMSU defense."

That may be true, but is it the ND defense that kept Riley from hitting a wide open Hoffman for a game-winning TD? Is NMSU's poor defense responsible for Lark being able to put the ball right into Hoffman's hands in stride? That's the issue.

The bottom line is that Nelson cannot throw the ball very well, while Lark can. We fans see the games and see that Lark is making completions while Nelson is making turnover after turnover. So forgive us for judging Nelson's talent based on game-time performance rather than practice performance.

longtime fan
Salt Lake City, UT

There's no question James Lark has a better arm than Riley Nelson, but so did Jake Heaps. The QB position is much more than being able to throw the ball on target. Some examples: pre-snap reads, drop back reads, checking down to 2nd & 3rd options, knowing when to flush out of the pocket and run for the sticks, or when to flush out to buy time, knowing when to stand in the pocket and deliver right before taking the hit, etc. Nelson was chosen over Heaps because his intangibles outweighed Heaps' arm.
Coaches stuck with Nelson because they thought he gave the team the best chance to win based on the information they had at the time. Now, with new information about Lark, the coaches may decide to give him a larger role or start him in the bowl game, but as fans, we don't have all the information. One stellar performance against a weak defense, where multiple receivers were wide open on almost every play, may not be enough to start Lark over Riley.
I prefer to let the experienced coaching staff make the decision rather than desk job guys on this forum.

Cottonwood Heights, UT

It must be a cold day in.. well, in Provo, because for once I agree with Brad Rock. It doesn't happen very often that I can say he's absolutely correct. The sad thing is that Bronco is going to do whatever he pleases to do and he's not listening to me and he's not reading Brad Rock.

Cedar Hills, UT


Bronco's disdain for byU "fans" is completely warranted.

I hope he plays Nelson too...and then goes to Colorado.

blue & white
Boise, ID

start Lark, no brainer- Brandon. just look at the 49ers what they are doing at QB. it was plain to see in Utah, Boise state, and SJS that Nelson was hurt and not helping the team. coaches must have courage to do the right thing. If Nelson was a team player he would bench himself. pleae don't call another QB running play but let the QB run as needed when the play breaks down. Frustrated fan!

Enid, OK

Article quote: "He (Nelson) has proven to be a quarterback that takes too many hits and commits too many turnovers."

Especially turnovers. Lots of turnovers.

Coach Mendenhall, it seems to me, is a little biased towards Nelson because he (Nelson) reminds him of himself: a hard-working athlete with a huge heart, under-appreciated by the huge name schools, but still nonetheless just a somewhat better than average athlete.

The first thing Mendenhall needs to do is acknowledge that fact....the slight bias.

The second thing Mendenhall needs to do is realize that all the heart in the world does NOT consistently win games. If it did, we'd all be playing in the NFL.

Desire is nice, desire and passion are huge but in the real world heart and desire just don't consistently beat talent.

Start Lark!

Orem, UT

I don't expect Bronco to do the right thing and start James Lark. He is a very proud man and he has the full support of the administration at BYU. Bronco knows this and has been given a free hand to handle the football program any way he wants. He is not one to be told by fans that his judgement is lacking and is not humble enough to admit he has made a mistake in starting Riley Nelson when it was obvious Riley could no longer play. He wants a running quarterback regardless whether it wins games or not. I expect to see Riley Nelson start at the Poinsettia Bowl and the results will be the same with every other game he has started against a good team.

Orem, UT

McMahon would not have played under Bronco.
Steve Yound may have been passed over under Bronco.
Ty Detmer would have been too little, and passed over by Bronco.
Doman may have played.
I don't know what all the Max Hall hype was...he threw picks like kids throw rocks. All the time. Remember Utah game? 6 Picks!

Nelson is done after one more game...good luck Doc! You'll be rich I'm sure...but the legacy will be sour for most of us.

Can't wait to move on. Want to go to the bowl game...but do not want to watch it muffed. It will be.

Raleigh, NC

Where is a u football article on which I can post my disparaging remarks? Oh...their season is over.

Hank Pym

@ Cats 4:56 p.m. Nov. 29, 2012

As a Utah fan, I'll oblige.

I am really really phenomenally & incredibly apathetic about the war kittys, their HC, OC, & QB.

How's that?

Cougar Claws
Lindon, UT

Re: Hank Pym

. . . says the Utah fan who actually takes the time to post the comment.

Saint George, UT

Beautifully written Brad Rock. You are spot on. We all love Riley but we don't want him playing if there is another viable option ready to come into the game and WIN it for the cougs.

RU Serious
Washington, UT

Sounds like SDSU is going to have a lot of fans at the game. A lot of them in Blue. Seems like you can't wait to see the coaches and their quarterback fail. Wait, you are finally playing a competent opponent and you are already making excuses. Way to be so hard on the team that brings a lot of us Utahns enjoyment on Saturdays. Shame on us all for judgements so harshly thrown at those who entertain us. It brings to mind Theodore Roosevelt's speech " The Man In The Mirror". I am as guilty as everyone else, but reading our comments has brought a dose of reality. I will read the speech again, it is quite profound.

Washington, UT


Sure, NMSU's defense isn't great, but it's 11 spots higher ranked than Idaho's and Lark performed better against NMSU than Nelson did against Idaho. In addition, not everybody on here is a non-football "desk job" guy, and this isn't the first time some of us have mentioned Nelson's deficiencies and Lark's strengths. This isn't new information. The very things we saw Lark do against NMSU, some of us have watched him do in spring and fall practices for the last couple years and have commented on it frequently. Plain and simple he outperformed Nelson in practice. Why he has never been given a serious opportunity to compete is anybody's guess and a tragedy for him and BYU fans.

Cedar Hills, UT

I stopped watching BYU football when the Jake Heaps and Robert Anae era ended. I certainly didn't miss much over the past 2 sorry seasons. It sure would be refreshing to get a whole new coaching staff to redeem this program but I'm afraid BYU fans will have to wait another year for that to happen. Bronco would be a good defensive coordinator somewhere - even the NFL - but as head coach he doesn't cut it. Every BIG game (with two exceptions ) BYU has flopped under Bronco at the helm. The Oklahoma game and the one TCU game a few year back are the ONLY big wins. I think back to all the other TCU blowouts and the Florida State blowout on National TV and on and on... Ugly. BYU had the chance ....by winning against TCU and Florida State to be in the BIG 12 now but those blowouts proved that the Y was not ready for prime time.

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