Brad Rock: BYU football: Injured Riley Nelson should know when to stand down

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  • DrUte Woods Cross, UT
    Sept. 28, 2012 12:04 p.m.

    I'll take a different view of the situation --- not an ego trip on the part of this young man, but I believe the Y coaching staff thinks so much of Riley that they will do the right thing & not only provide a capable replacement, but also protect a young man they know & respect from further injury.

    How tragic would it be to have Riley go from 65% capability to 25% capability thanks to a blitz or blind-side tackle.... That simply can't be allowed to happen.

    The Y coaching staff will not permit it; their concern & consideration for their players, coupled with an appropriate medical opinion, will dictate the correct decision, and you can bet that decision has already been made.

  • cork Murray, UT
    Sept. 27, 2012 11:15 a.m.

    I changed my mind. Start Nelson. He wants to play hurt and be the tough guy? Let him. Our offensive line couldn't stop ten grandmothers rushing the QB, so why put in Hill and have him get mangled? Let Riley, Bronco and Weber play the ruined season out. Let Holmoe go downs in flames, too, when it's all over and see if THEN he can actually make some tough decisions for the betterment of the program.

  • Bear Somewhere, UT
    Sept. 27, 2012 10:37 a.m.

    I'm going to make a prediction for Friday. If the offense does not come out and play lights out in the first half know matter who starts and quarterback then I think things could get ugly like last year against Utah. The defense has to be frustrated to death with playing more than well enough to be 4-0 not 2-2.

  • EdGrady Idaho Falls, ID
    Sept. 27, 2012 7:58 a.m.

    This isn't brain surgery - Nelson is ineffective for whatever reason. A change needs to be made.

  • idablu Idaho Falls, ID
    Sept. 26, 2012 8:32 p.m.

    Ute44 is right . This is NOT Nelson's call to make. Like a good soldier he'll do what is asked of him. If the coach (Bronco) thinks a 65% Nelson is better than any of the backups, he'll play. That works for some superstars, e.g., a flu stricken Michael Jordan was able to singlehandedly beat the Jazz. The problem is Nelson is no Michael Jordan. This decision by Bronco is a no-brainer--let someone else start and let Nelson heal. But then again, we all know presumably easy decisions are very difficult for the BYU coaches these days.

    I still like Doman. I find his humility, as evinced in another article, very refreshing. Although I agree that he needs to let go of some stupid plays that don't work, I still have faith in him. Although I respect Bronco as a terrific defensive coordinator, I am progressively losing faith in him as a HC.

    Memo to Tom Holmoe: Put Gary Andersen #1 on your radar as a future replacement for Bronco Mendenhall.

    To other wishful thinkers: Mike Leach does NOT meet the qualifications to be a head coach at BYU.

  • kokua KAYSVILLE, UT
    Sept. 26, 2012 6:35 p.m.

    Its all very odd in deed. I agree with Yfan, the coaching staff has choked once again. Doman's guessing, wondering, unclear mental direction from the very first game and the HC what is the deal with all the head scratching.

    The Washington State game was full of glitches and stalling play's, Riley was frustraited with the enability to finish some very finshable plays and drives. Doman's wierd pattern began back then and has now completelty exploded like a ketchup packet under your shoe, wow what a mess of things he has made.

  • Yfan Provo, UT
    Sept. 26, 2012 5:58 p.m.

    So coaches are saying that a half-Nelson beats a full Hill? I don't think so . . . and two painful losses to great programs that are down this year (just like Texas and TCU last year) prove it.

    And whatever happened to the plan to start Lark if Nelson couldn't go? We practice (allotted reps) that way all pre-season, then change our minds when the season starts? I don't get it.

    The way we've handled the most important skill position on the team over the past four seasons tells me that Bronco needs to 'stick to the knitting' on defense and hold Doman accountable for restoring an effective aerial attack . . . soon.

    My biggest concern is that after mopping up the WAC at the end of the season (Utah State respectfully excepted), we'll say once again that we're back on track and go into next season with high expectations . . . rinse and repeat.

  • Meckofahess Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 26, 2012 5:12 p.m.

    As a life long BYU fan, I am very concerned that Coach Mendenhall did not adequately discern that his quarterback was not at full strength and unable to play well enought to produce desired results. It appears to me that Riley was a major reason for the two lost ball gaames. I think a lot of BYU fans will not be content with 7-5 seasons for very long. I would argue that is where the team is headed if the coach continues to make questionable decisions. Probably would be better for Coach Mendenhall to put some priority on winning faily soon. Not very many teams win ball games without putting the best (healthiest) players on the field during crucial times. I think for what Coaches are paid (even at BYU) we can and should expect better coaching.

  • Ute44 Salt Lake City , UT
    Sept. 26, 2012 4:32 p.m.

    This is all on Bronco and his coaching staff. They decide who plays, and it should not be in Nelson's hands to begin with. It is a shame for his health and well being that the coaches didn't step in and tell him to sit for a few weeks. Don't blame Nelson. Personnel decisions should be made by coaches period.

    Sept. 26, 2012 4:04 p.m.

    If Riley would have put his pride aside and told the coaches that he is too hurt to play and that he felt that he was hurting the team then we would have beaten Boise State and probably Utah! Only you know how bad your injury is. Not the doctors, not the coaches. Put the team first and not yourself. It takes a big man to put the team first. So frustrating! This isn't Andrew Luck we are talking about where if he is 85% you have a tough decision to play him or not. This is a 65% Riley Nelson. Not a hard decision.

  • UtahBruin Saratoga Springs, UT
    Sept. 26, 2012 3:31 p.m.

    Injured or not he looked like the same QB as he always is. So does he play injured all the time. Same poor decisions, same trying to scramble out of the pocket instead of stepping up into it, same overthrowing recievers, same bad decisions, same lame line audibles. He and Doman should pack a lunch and leave together. They both are terrible at what they do.

  • Uteanymous Salt Lake City, Utah
    Sept. 26, 2012 3:28 p.m.

    I admire Riley's competitive spirit, but Bronco and Brandon blew the Boise State game by not pulling Riley as soon as it became apparent that he couldn't throw a pass more than 15-yards with any accuracy.

    Baseball managers know when their starting pitcher doesn't have it anymore, even when he says otherwise.

    I'm disappointed that Bronco and Brandon couldn't tell that Riley simply didn't have it anymore against Boise State.

    Do the smart thing Bronco and Brandon; start Hill, prepare Lark as your backup, and let Riley rest and heal.

  • starthillnotnelson Kamas/United States, UT
    Sept. 26, 2012 2:56 p.m.

    I know my name is starthillnotnelson, but it depends on how Nelson does. If he's horrible, I love my name. If he's good, I'll change it.

  • starthillnotnelson Kamas/United States, UT
    Sept. 26, 2012 2:53 p.m.

    I don't think Hawaii is a terrible team, or that BYU should underestimate them, but I think BYU could easily beat them. I think they should start Nelson. If Hawaii shows up and stops Nelson, they should put Hill in. Starting either QB is risky, with Nelson not being 100%, and also with Hill being a freshman. Another thing with Nelson is this could ruin him or soar him. A bad game lowers his confidence and others confidence in him, when again a good game could really boost him and silence his critics. I'm glad I'm not a coach, because this is a tough decision

  • IdahoCoog Malad City, ID
    Sept. 26, 2012 1:54 p.m.

    I love the "can do" attitude that brings Riley to give all he's got for the team, and I feel bad for him and his big chance, but anyone who has watched the last two games kn0w that Riley can't perform because of his physical ailments. It is PAINFULLY obvious he is in pain. He just carries himself differently, and has trouble passing or running. His courage is admirable ... but it is hurting not only himself, but the team.


  • Amorphous Saint George, UT
    Sept. 26, 2012 12:36 p.m.

    I agree that Riley needs to swallow his pride and do what's best for the team but why is Hill suddenly #2? Lark doesn't merely deserve it, he has payed for and earned it.

  • Tacoholic Farmington, UT
    Sept. 26, 2012 12:14 p.m.

    Isn't Riley a pre-med student? His football career obviously isn't going anywhere, so it seems to me the risk of playing isn't worth it if he wants a long and successful career as a doctor. I don't know how much he is hurting the team since there is plenty of inexperience at QB but I think you can certainly make the case he may be jeopardizing his post-football career. Put it down Riley for your own good.

  • papi_chulo Ogden, UT
    Sept. 26, 2012 11:00 a.m.

    @Wayne Rout
    If Riley were playing at 165% he would still be slow and unable to pass the ball more than 15 yards. I have never been able to understand why he is on the team anyway.

    I agree 100% with your comment. I'll tell you why he is on the tema. It's because he is a good boy and does what he's supposed to etc.

    Bronco needs to stop trying to be the Bishop and start being the football coach and if he doesn't want to start, then maybe BYU needs to look at re-hiring Lavell Edwards, cause we know that he will get the job done.

  • Wayne Rout El Paso, TX
    Sept. 26, 2012 10:40 a.m.

    If Riley were playing at 165% he would still be slow and unable to pass the ball more than 15 yards. I have never been able to understand why he is on the team anyway.

  • Bear Somewhere, UT
    Sept. 26, 2012 10:40 a.m.

    RE: 86&90 UTE

    I have to disagree with you on this one. A 65% Nelson couldn't throw the ball over the linebackers last week to hit wide open receivers. Why would this week be any different. If Riley plays more than half the game on Friday BYU will lose. Riley is already a below average quarterback so if he is at only 65% then it is like putting a decent quarterback out there at below 50%.

  • DaveKnowsWhatsUp Bloomington, IN
    Sept. 26, 2012 10:19 a.m.

    My favorite part of the Boise game was watching Riley celebrate on the sidelines after the touchdown. He was out there supporting his teammates with all the enthusiasm that he plays with. I don't know him personally, but I know his heart is completely about helping the team, and he's willing to sacrifice himself to do that. I don't see this as an ego thing, just a demonstration of his desire to compete. He's still the team leader, the coaches know this, and even though I've lost some confidence in the decision making with the team, I'll still trust them more than I trust any of us who sit around not playing the game.

  • az roadrunner Apache Junction, AZ
    Sept. 26, 2012 10:18 a.m.

    Another baseball icon besides Lou Gehrig who knew when to step down was Mickey Mantle: "I can't steal second base when I need to; I can't go from first to third on a hit to right field when I need to." He meant, of course, "I can't steal second base when the team needs me to; I can't go from first to third on a hit to right field when the team needs me to." Riley Nelson should be saying, "I can't complete a forward pass when I need to."

  • Johnny Triumph American Fork, UT
    Sept. 26, 2012 9:54 a.m.

    I see one really big problem with the coaches this week, they're giving most of the reps to Hill to prepare him in case he needs to play. By doing this they're not going to be able to accurately critique Nelson which means that Nelson will look like he's better than he really is. And since Nelson won't say, hey Coach, I'm only feeling about 70%, the coaches will think that he's fine. Best case is he limps the Cougars along and worst case is that he gets beaten up even worse. I agree that Nelson needs to know when to step aside. And the Coaches better get with it and make that seemingly hard (but should be really easy) decision to go with the backup. They should have seen Nelson's limitations in practice and sat him rather than playing him to two losses. But Nelson's got to make it easier on the Coaches by saying he's not 100%, this is a TEAM sport after all.

  • Madden Herriman, UT
    Sept. 26, 2012 9:27 a.m.

    I just don't understand why the coaches feel they owe Riley Nelson all of the benefit of the doubt here. Yes, he worked hard, but I have never heard anyone say that Lark, Hill or Munns have worked any less hard. Don't you owe it to them to let them do their job when the first stringer is hurt?

  • yarrlydarb Ogden, UT
    Sept. 26, 2012 8:20 a.m.

    Do the rational thing, for heaven's sake.

    Playing hurt is salving the ego, not helping the team.

    The bigger man recognizes the team is more than the individual players.

    It's time to cheer teammates from the sideline; that's where they need him now.

    Nelson came in for Heaps when he was faltering and Heaps was healthy. Surely he can understand to step aside now is the bigger thing to do.

    Imagine the resentful feelings that the other excellent players would understandably feel toward him for taking way their major reason for playing, if Riley forces his way into the starting lineup.

    That, together with the message coaches would send to his teammates if they cater to the personal agenda of a sixty-five percenter.

  • Y Grad / Y Dad Richland, WA
    Sept. 26, 2012 7:22 a.m.

    I do NOT mean to overlook Hawaii. They have spanked us before in similar situations.

    Riley is my qb. He's earned it, he deserves it.

    But if he is not 100%, then he isn't ready to prove he is 100%. Time to rest and heal and let the other men take the shot. After all, they've earned it too. They deserve it.

    And please don't underestimate the pressure of this decision on all concerned. Ultimately it IS Bronco's call, and yes it IS just a game. But it is a game that shapes men and builds character. That IS his priority, and that is why he IS the right man for the job at BYU.

    Best possible outcome in a game, or the best possible outcome in the lives of young men. I trust Bronco to make the right call, and hopefully the right call can have positive results in both arenas at the same time.

  • gchris rock springs, wy
    Sept. 26, 2012 6:38 a.m.

    If other playerS were at 65%, TheY would be sitting on the bench, maybe not even in uniform. Coaches decide who will play, but then, these coaches haven't been making very good decisions lately, so why should this one be any different?

  • Frozen Chosen Savage, MN
    Sept. 26, 2012 5:37 a.m.

    Doctors, schmoctors! Anyone who watched the past two games could see that Nelson was way below 100%. For the coaches to let him lose those games is inexcusable.

    Responsibility for this trainwreck begins at the top. Open your eyes, Bronco!

  • Utejazz West Valley City, UT
    Sept. 25, 2012 9:56 p.m.

    I'm a Utes fan and I have mad respect for Riley Nelson. He plays the game he loves and plays it hard. He's a tough kid.

  • bslack Draper, UT
    Sept. 25, 2012 8:30 p.m.

    I would expect the Coaches to discuss with the Team Doctors as well as Riley and make the decision. Riley is a warrior and only 24 years old, of course he wants to play. Coach Mendenhall and Doman need to man up and do their jobs. Consult with the Doctors and review the tapes from the previous two weeks. This shouldn't be that tough, but then going for two instead of the tie and overtime wasn't that difficult either.

  • Wally West SLC, UT
    Sept. 25, 2012 8:27 p.m.

    re: BigCougar

    Do I think Riley is blameless? No. But, he has done his best IMO with all obstacles placed before him.

    I see parallels with my favorite NFL team... Riley = Chad Henne, Doman = Dan Henning, Bronco = Tony Sparano. That scenario worked out for the best; didn't it?

  • Vladhagen Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 25, 2012 8:08 p.m.

    I think that Riley realises that he erred. Give the guy a break. He is 24 years old (I hope his older coaches can show some discretion though). I am a huge Riley fan. Huge. But I think that if he is not 100% for Hawaii, he should be resting on the bench. 65% is way too low. I believe in Riley more than most of the guys in their Lazy-Boyz, but I need to believe in him as well to rest himself to prepare for some larger games. Who knows, maybe they just need to let Riley get his long power-hair back.

  • BigCougar Bountiful, UT
    Sept. 25, 2012 7:47 p.m.

    The coaches blame Riley while Riley blames the coaches. In the meantime Riley puts his own selfish interest ahead of the team And they lose two very winnable games in the process.

    Who are the leaders of this team? Bronco praises riley's leadership. Riley puts his interest ahead of his teammates, That's not much of a leader. Now they're both pointing the finger at the other guy. I guess this is what happens when winning is not a very high priority.

  • RockOn Spanish Fork, UT
    Sept. 25, 2012 7:39 p.m.

    Agree. You've got to know when to hold, when to fold them, when to walk away. Reilly should NOT be the decision maker. That's why you pay coaches. Never let the inmates run the asylum.

  • 86&90UTE Holladay, UT
    Sept. 25, 2012 7:38 p.m.

    I don't think it matters at all this week who BYU lines up at quarterback. They are playing a bad Hawaii team. A 65% Nelson will do just fine. So what if you only win by 20 instead of 35. It will matter more against a real team. Perhaps this article should have been held up and posted next week.

  • sammyg Springville, UT
    Sept. 25, 2012 7:19 p.m.

    Good article.

    At work I'm amazed at those people that have such a high opinion of themselves that they show up sick, spreading their germs, being and making everyone so miserable to be around them. They get little done.

    Excuse me while I 'manage' my sick time, stay at home, get better and let my team move on without me.

    I trust the coaches and players to make the best decisions. Please work on this the best you can.