There was an outside chance early last week that Drew Miller was going to start Saturday's game against Murray State. And it didn't have anything to do with reports that he might be leaving BYU.
Coach LaVell Edwards said Miller might start last Monday when starter Kevin Feterik was examined by doctors for a possible detached retina in his eye. The test came up negative, but that incident illustrates what Edwards knows far too well: a quarterback can go down at any time, and the backup needs to be ready to play.As it turned out, Feterik played the first and third quarters Saturday, while Miller took the reins for the second and fourth quarters. It's a platooning pattern that could be used throughout the rest of the season.
"We've got two quarterbacks," Edwards said. "We need them both to win this thing."
"This thing," is the WAC championship, and BYU opens conference play this weekend at Fresno State.
Against Murray State, Feterik and the Cougar offense looked lackluster in the opening 15 minutes, posting a 7-0 advantage. When Miller was inserted, he promptly guided BYU on a 44-yard, seven-play drive, culminating in a seven-yard run by Ronney Jenkins.
"Drew gave us a spark," Edwards said. "He brought some energy in there."
"It felt great to get a chance to take a lot of snaps and to get a feel for the game," Miller said.
When Feterik re-entered the contest in the second half, he responded by leading BYU on a 41-yard, eight-play TD drive. "Kevin settled down and played well in the third quarter," Edwards said.
In all, the numbers for Feterik (8-13, 141 yards, one touchdown, one interception) and Miller (12-19, 172, one TD, one INT) were practically even.
Feterik did not make himself available to reporters after the game.
As for the rest of the Cougars, they say they don't care who the quarterback is. "Too much is always made of the quarterback situation at BYU," said linebacker and co-captain Rob Morris. "The only controversy is on TV and in the newspapers. It doesn't exist on the team . . . I'm not going to let this team fall apart like it did last year."
Apparently, all is well in the Cougar camp. There is no friction or divisiveness regarding the quarterbacks, to hear players and coaches talk. "No one was cheering harder for Drew than Kevin, and no one was cheering harder for Kevin than Drew," Edwards said.
Miller thinks he and Feterik complement each other's skills.
"We're really equal," he said. "We both do different things well."
When asked about how close he came to transferring, Miller said he didn't want to get into specifics but added, "This is the place for me. I'm a Cougar and I know I made the right decision."
He said his desire to compete was foremost in his mind. "I know of a lot of great quarterbacks who only played two years (at BYU)," Miller said. "Unfortunately, one thing I haven't been blessed with is patience."
WHAT ABOUT THE DEFENSE? With so much attention placed on the sluggish offense and the quarterback watch, nobody seemed to notice the Cougar "D" played without two starters Saturday, linebacker Brad Martin and safety Chris Ellison, who sat out with nagging injuries.
Turned out, the Cougars didn't need them, although the Racers threatened on their first possession. "The most frustrating thing was they scored nine points. We wanted a shut-out," Morris said.
"Then the first series they were on the one-yard line."
That drive was squelched by senior safety Jason Walker, who picked off quarterback Justin Fuentes in the end zone. Walker now has four picks in as many games.
Score: Brigham Young 43, Murray State 9
Record: 2-2 overall, 0-0 WAC
Offense: With quarterbacks Kevin Feterik and Drew Miller splitting time, BYU tops 200 yards passing for the first time this season. Ten different receivers catch passes. Grade: B
Defense: The Cougars continue to get the job done. This time, they did so without starters Brad Martin and Chris Ellison, who were held out to heal from injuries. Grade: A Special teams: Aside from a missed field goal, BYU avoided pitfalls that proved costly against Washington. Grade: B+
Next up: at Fresno State, Saturday.