Mike Sorensen: Fans always think the backup quarterback is better than the starter

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  • Rational Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 24, 2012 7:52 p.m.

    Paul Shoemaker's argument is better research and more objective, Mike, and he's a part-time writer. Maybe the backup would be better at the D-News, too.

  • PGVikingDad Pleasant Grove, UT
    Sept. 24, 2012 7:41 p.m.

    Minus-four quarterback rating. Minus. Four. OF COURSE Taysom is better than that.

  • LV Mike Las Vegas, NV
    Sept. 24, 2012 5:42 p.m.

    This is a ridiculous article. Every fan watching the BYU/BSU game was well aware that ANY QB other than Nelson would have been better. Even if the coaches had waited until after BYU went three and out in its first post halftime possession to take Nelson out it would have been too late. The BYU coaching staff had so little confidence in Nelson's abilities that it simply let the clock run out at the end of the first half instead of actually trying to move the ball into some kind of scoring position. It was a complete embarrassment. Now the coaches want to make excuses for Nelson, because he was playing hurt? That is an indictment on the coaches. They have cost the team two straight losses. Can't believe Bronco went for two vs. BSU with a freshman QB, and one of the worst offenses in recent BYU history. I think he's gone mad - especially when Bronco states emphatically that he'd make the same decision again and again. Amazing.

    The coaching staff that fosters QB controversies of late must be having a ball with dumb articles like this.

  • fender Washington, UT
    Sept. 24, 2012 3:09 p.m.


    Nelson our best option? Nice sound bite, but not defensible. Ideal QB has got arm strength, accuracy, body size, pocket presence, field vision, football smarts, judgment, and toughness. Manning and Brady are prototypes.

    Nelson is tough, has football smarts, and he's mobile. His lack of height, however, costs him both arm strength and field vision. His body weight makes him vulnerable to injury. He's not consistently accurate and the inability to throw downfield hurts BYU's run game big time. He's also overly aggressive and makes poor decisions at times. He would be a terrific safety, but he'll never be a top flight QB. Guarantee he won't be drafted.

    Either Lark or Hill is a better option.

  • Benderman1 Layton, UT
    Sept. 24, 2012 2:56 p.m.

    I agree with this article! Last year, everyone thought the grass would be greener with Nelson. Boy were they wrong! Why didn't this author write this exact same article last year when BYU was in the same situation? The author fails to touch on one major point. BYU is not going anywhere this year. They will likely play in a bowl whether Nelson plays or Hill plays. That's why everyone wants to see Hill now. If BYU ends up in the same place regardless of who plays, why not start developing Hill now so BYU has an experienced QB come next year? By continuing to play Nelson, all they are doing is hindering the progress of the entire team. BYU coaches do not understand the concept of preparation. They don't prepare the right way for big games and they don't know how to prepare for upcoming seasons.

    Sept. 24, 2012 1:37 p.m.

    There should be a QB controversy in Provo...between Hill and Lark.

  • Go Big Blue!!! Bountiful, UT
    Sept. 24, 2012 12:56 p.m.

    Aggies are not asking for the backup qb. See you next week Cougars.

    Go Big Blue!!!

  • toosmartforyou Farmington, UT
    Sept. 24, 2012 11:34 a.m.

    @ Tokyo

    Jake Heaps hasn't been vindicated. He had hundreds of false start and delay-of-game penalties because he couldn't get the play started in a decent fashion. He had evey chance to beat Texas and didn't do it. He literally gift-wrapped tha win and handed it to Utah on a silver platter. Jake was too full of himself to have his teammates want to follow his leadership. One can count on both hands and feet at least three times the number of potential big plays where he over-threw the receiver that was wide open down field. I wish him well at Kansas but I'm glad he's no longer our guy, as he was too long in that scenario while we were losing games. After he was benched we suddenly started winning. Don't revise history to fit your own bias.

  • HCB63 Orem, UT
    Sept. 24, 2012 11:01 a.m.

    Obviously Sorenson has been riding the Riley Nelson Love Train because, after two abyssmal performances in two consecutive games, Sorenson has become an apologist for "Legend in the Making", my personal heeeerroh, Riley Nelson, "the Savior of BYU Football" as several BYU fan signs have proclaimed.
    The guy belongs in D-III ball where he would probably be a decent QB. In D-I, he beats up on the terrible opponents--taking all the glory, but plays horrifically against good or even average teams, then makes excuses for his bad play.
    The Backup QB may often seem to be a better choice, but in BYU's case, it really IS the better choice. At the very least, Lark or Munns or even Hill certainly couldn't do any worse than 32 yards of Total offense and four turnovers, as was Nelson's effort against Boise State.

  • Andrew_Streeter High Point, NC
    Sept. 24, 2012 10:56 a.m.

    At the end of the day, all of Nelson's wins as "the guy" are fool's gold.

    In his career as a starter (where he has played the entire game), Nelson has 6 wins - 2 WAC teams, 2 Big Sky teams, and 2 PAC-12 cellar-dwellers.

    In his games where he has played quality opponents (TCU in 2011, Utah and Boise St. this year) he has this collective stat line:
    36/83 (43%) 440 yds (146 yds/game) 3 TDs (1 per game), 6 INTs (2 per game), 3 lost fumbles (1 per game).

    He was personally responsible for NINE turnovers in just those 3 losses.

    The dude is RECKLESS, inconsistent, inaccurate, predictable and sloppy. I don't care how "gritty" or "tough" he is - he loses important games all on his own. Moxie and character have never won a football game on their own.

    Regardless of if BYU wins 6 games or ends up 10-2, they already know that they're headed to the Poinsettia Bowl. This being the case, WHY NOT look to he future and just play Taysom? I honestly feel like he gives you the best chance to win.

  • Andrew_Streeter High Point, NC
    Sept. 24, 2012 10:54 a.m.

    At the end of the day, all of Nelson's wins as "the guy" are fool's gold.

    In his career as a starter (where he has played the entire game), Nelson has 6 wins - 2 WAC teams, 2 Big Sky teams, and 2 PAC-12 cellar-dwellers.

    In his games where he has played quality opponents (TCU in 2011, Utah and Boise St. this year) he has this collective stat line:
    36/83 (43%) 440 yds (146 yds/game) 3 TDs (1 per game), 6 INTs (2 per game), 3 lost fumbles (1 per game).

    He was personally responsible for NINE turnovers in just those 3 losses. Important to note that 2 of these games were lost by less than a field goal, and TCU lost by 10.

    Bottom line: The dude is RECKLESS, inconsistent, inaccurate, predictable and sloppy. I don't care how "gritty" or "tough" he is - he loses important games all on his own. Moxie and character have never won a football game on their own.

    If BYU wins 6 games or ends up 10-2, they already know that they're headed to the Poinsettia Bowl. This being the case, WHY NOT look to he future and just play Taysom? I honestly feel like he gives you the best chance to win.

  • HCB63 Orem, UT
    Sept. 24, 2012 10:40 a.m.

    Thank you for that spot on opinion Tokyo_Expat.
    Awesome top hear that analysis from someone besides myself!

  • OHBU Columbus, OH
    Sept. 24, 2012 10:09 a.m.

    I don't know many Cougar fans that have ever clamored for Nelson. He's a gunslinger. He thinks he's Favre, but lacks the equivalent talent. Bronco blew it with Heaps...no Freshman thrives when there is the threat of a hook at every bad pass. Had we developed him, who knows. Now we've got a young qb with a ton of potential, and who seems to be more liked by his teammates than Heaps. This year is already a bit of a bust, and next year's schedule looks like a gauntlet. Should we stick with the beat-up, sub-par senior, or maybe develop the young qb so that maybe next year we have a shot at doing something good? Hill is big, tough, and has quick feet. His passing accuracy already at least matches Nelson's, though he has a way to go there. Stick with Hill, pick up a good qb coach in the offseason, and hopefully we can reap the rewards like we did with both Beck and Hall who were allowed to learn in their Freshman years, rather than fear getting pulled.

  • satch Highland, UT
    Sept. 24, 2012 10:04 a.m.

    I don't recall fans asking for the backup when Jim McMahon was in, nor Steve Young, Robbie Bosco, Ty Detmer, nor Max Hall or John Beck.

    If we had a backup offensive coordinator it would be time for that too.

  • Tokyo_Expat Tokyo, Japan
    Sept. 24, 2012 9:58 a.m.

    Somewhere in Kansas, Jake Heaps is shaking his head saying, "I told you so..." He's totally been vindicated...and I didn't think it would happen this fast. Clearly this coaching staff is incapable of making the correct decisions necessary to build a major D1 program. That's why they've mortgaged the future on a sub-par qb talent, albeit a fighter, and why they continue to struggle with the reality distortion that attitude alone is more important than attitude and ability combined. I don't blame Heaps for one second in leaving this mess. What a disaster!

  • manaen1 Buena Park, CA
    Sept. 24, 2012 9:30 a.m.

    "Nelson has played with a sore back the past two games"

    Thanks for explaining why someone else should start; this does not vindicate the decision to start Nelson.

  • Cougar Nation #1 Provo, UT
    Sept. 24, 2012 9:09 a.m.

    Riley Nelson should be #3 or #4 on the depth chart. There is no way he should be a starting QB at BYU or any other D-1 school (injury or no injury). He took over for Jake Heaps and has never beat a good team. He cost us the game against TCU and almost blew the game against Tulsa. This year, he was awful against utah and Boise and cost us both games. He's had his chance and has had more opportunity than anyone ever believed he has deserved with such a weak arm. Nelson simply put isn't any good as a college QB and has really damaged this football season with our top 10 defense, all we needed was a QB who wouldn't lose the game and he lost two games we should've won. If Bronco and Doman don't come to their senses then they will be gone soon because the current team should be undefeated.

  • CougFaninTX Frisco, TX
    Sept. 24, 2012 8:50 a.m.

    A response to all.

    Nelson is our best QB option, when he is healthy. But when he is not healthy, and not playing close to his potential, the fans want a change. He should have been pulled in the 2nd Quarter against BSU, he was struggling. Please let him take a week off against Hawaii. Hopefully, Nelson will be ready to come back against USU.

    I don't see the advantage of BSUs blue uniforms on a blue field. Michigan State wears green uniforms on a green field. I hope BYU breaks out their new black uniforms for the USU game.

    BYU and Utah are looking at seasons to forget. Utah should beat WSU and CO, but I don't see them beating anyone else, which puts them at 4-8. The only bowling they will be doing is with 10 pins. I don't see BYU beating Oregon State, Notre Dame or Georgia Tech. Utah State is a 50/50 game. Even San Jose is not a gimme with our offense. I think we're looking at 7-5.

  • Frozen Chosen Savage, MN
    Sept. 24, 2012 7:46 a.m.

    Riley Nelson is not a D1 QB, plain and simple. He simply does not have the skills needed to beat a good D1 defense. By playing hurt he has cost BYU what should have been a very successful season. He may be fiery but he is very selfish to put his interests above that of the team.

    Ultimately Bronco is responsible for this train wreck of a season. Rather than letting a hurt and ineffective Riley Nelson talk his way on to the field, he should have the guts and judgement to bench a hurt player.

    Bronco is a great defensive coordinator but he is not a head coach. His poor decision making has proven this on several occasions. BYU will never be great unless they get an effective head coach.

  • gchris rock springs, wy
    Sept. 24, 2012 7:23 a.m.

    If BYU has decided, at some point, that they are going to run an option offense with a run-first, throw only in desparation offense, why go to all the trouble of recruiting great receivers like Hoffman, Apo, Friel, etc.? Nelson/Doman haven't thrown to a back yet this season and Nelson never seems to look for a secondary receiver. He also seems to have trouble seeing downfield. When an offensive scheme is geared to the abilities of one player, in this case a run-first quarterback, and that one player is injured or ineffective, the offense is not effective. Whether Nelson, Lark or Hill is the quarterback, BYU should play to its strength--throwing the football. Otherwise they should replace Hoffman, Apo and other great receivers with non-scholarship players who can stand around and watch Nelson run with the ball.

  • BYUCOLORADO Castle Rock, CO
    Sept. 24, 2012 7:09 a.m.

    This just simply isn't true. Nobody was clamoring for Max Hall's back up or John Beck's back up. When the starting QB is bad people think the back up is better. That is the case in this situation.

    Nelson has played poorly against good competition. He racked up some decent numbers against cupcakes. I hope this Riley Nelson experience ends soon. Last year I would much rather have him in the game over Jake Heaps (Heaps could keep his head straight). This year we have good reason to believe that Taysom Hill is a gamer...but with skill. Unlike Riley Nelson, who is just a fierce competitor.

  • romorg PROVO, UT
    Sept. 24, 2012 5:37 a.m.

    "No matter that Nelson has played with a sore back the past two games, close Cougar losses by a grand total of four points."

    Actually, the point is that it does matter. You say Nelson should play if he's healthy. The coaches say Nelson is still the starting qb and will play if he's healthy.

    Healthy according to who?

    It's now been established the Riley cannot be trusted to decide if he's healthy. Likewise, the coaches cannot be trusted to decide if he's healthy.

    What kind of fools do you take us for?

    The coaches gave Nelson another possession at his request and we saw the results. Now we are threatened with another game where the qb and coaches deny reality and you would like us to go along with that. After all, you say, surely Nelson can deliver a win over a bad Hawaii team.

    No, he cannot. No, we don't even want to be threatened with that.

    The BSU game was pathetic. The decisions that Bronco has made as a HC have been pathetic.

    It's time to get it right or get out.

  • Aggie84 Idaho Falls, ID
    Sept. 24, 2012 2:39 a.m.

    Wasn't it just a couple of weeks ago that Riley was touted as "BOC" boy can attitudes change quickly because of a couple of losses to quality teams. BYU will only loose 3 more games, USU and two others?

  • toosmartforyou Farmington, UT
    Sept. 24, 2012 12:02 a.m.

    I'm certain a healthy qb is better than an injured one, particularly if one is talking about the same person in both instances.

    What I'd like to know is how Boise State, with their gimmicky Blue Smurf field is allowed to wear totally blue uniforms? I undersatnd that the MWC wasn't going to allow it any more. I know, they're the home team, and all, but this smacks of an unfair advantage, like Hawaii scheduled gamnes that start at 7:30 pm, which is 11:30 pm Mountain Time. Or their defenders falling down with a pretended injury every time the oppopsition gains a little momentum from a good play. I've witnessed that for decades. But they still manage to lose on the mainland almost every week. They have a real mental thing about playing football anywhere other than Honolulu.

    The fans cheer for the back-up because he doesn't get in unless either the game is out of reach or in grave danger of losing without a change. Fans want to see victories. Ok?

  • camera2head west jordan, utah
    Sept. 23, 2012 11:32 p.m.


    You want fair and accuracy. Byu beat a 5 loss Tulsa team (including bowl game), who lost to the 4 good teams on their schedule by an average of 28pts. Byu also beat a 6 loss Utah St. team (including bowl game). Heck 70 teams go to bowl games so what. Like I said Reilly has not and will not beat a good team. I'm quite sure he's a great guy,just not the Quaterback to lead Byu to greatness.

  • WHAT NOW? Saint George, UT
    Sept. 23, 2012 9:46 p.m.

    In conclusion...
    BYU is 45-15 from 2007 through 2011.
    4 bowl wins puts the win total, at 49 wins, in 5 years.
    Weak schedules?
    The players and coach's compete against the schedules they are given.
    Coach's are given input but AD's sign the contract.
    BYU fans need to gain some perspective.
    Take a breath.
    Appreciate what you have.
    There are 4 easy wins left on the 2012 schedule.
    2 toss-ups.
    2 probable losses.
    10 and 2 is possible.
    8 and 4 is probable.
    6 and 6 worst case is still bowl eligible if the Weber game counts toward bowl eligibility.
    Count 3 easy wins, in November, will give Hill confidence (if Riley can't play), give BYU almost 2 months to work on execution as well as prepare for their bowl game.
    Hill and the offense will only get better.
    There are many teams in America that would love to be in BYU's position.

  • eagle Provo, UT
    Sept. 23, 2012 9:33 p.m.

    To be fair, Nelson was the starting QB that beat Tulsa in the bowl game and he came off the bench to lead BYU to a victory over Utah State, also a program that went to a bowl game. If we want to denigrate or criticize Nelson for not beating anyone, let's be fair and accurate.

  • LouisD Las Vegas, NV
    Sept. 23, 2012 9:03 p.m.

    BYU isn't playing a quarterback now.
    BYU is playing a free safety that tells people he's a quarterback.

  • camera2head west jordan, utah
    Sept. 23, 2012 8:04 p.m.

    Riley is not that good healthy or unheathly. He has yet to beat a good team and never will. I expect a long and painful year for both Byu and Utah fan bases.

  • Madden Herriman, UT
    Sept. 23, 2012 7:26 p.m.

    You don't seem to get it. People were not clamoring for a change until it was obvious the coaches and Nelson all refused to recognize that injuries were making him a really poor QB. It is ludicrous to think an injured Nelson is a better QB than Lark or Hill - the problem is that Nelson is willing to lie to the coaches and press and say he is okay to play, when he clearly is not. He is letting down his team and the fans by deluding himself...we get that he's tough, but the coaches need to go with effective.

  • DRay Roy, UT
    Sept. 23, 2012 6:57 p.m.

    It does seem Nelson cannot, even when healthy, lead a breakaway receiver with a pass downfield. The shame is that we have these potentially great receivers and no one is getting the ball to them as BYU favors the option and run game. Wonder why Lark was demoted to 3rd string? O why Munns isn't getting a chance. I think the qb ? is determined by the decision of offensive philosophy, run game or pass game. Lavel Edwards mentioned that if you go with the shot-gun, then don't change it because of crowd noise, just work on it, make it better, because the blocking schemes are different with under center than shotgun, and it can be too confusing to a team. The cougars are indecisive as to what kind of offense they want to run. That hurts the team.

  • CWEB Orem, UT
    Sept. 23, 2012 6:45 p.m.

    No Mike...Riley Nelson has never been the fan's pick...as he has no arm, he has only guts and grit. Well, so do many other kids who don't have the natural skills.

    I'd rather develop a guy who has the arm, than lose with a guy who has no arm, and won't admit to being hurt, and then letting down the team and fans...if he is hurt, then he has an obligation to get off the field. I'd say it is pride.

    Nelson is Bronco's dream boy, he has the things Bronco sees in the mirror. Bronco and the staff cannot deal with the egos of very talented athletes. Sad for our program...with the defense we put on the field against Boise St. there is NO excuse for losing that game. Lark would have won that game.

  • DC Alexandria, VA
    Sept. 23, 2012 6:37 p.m.

    I want Nelson if he is healthy. I don't want him playing if he is hurt - it only hurts the team and it could end up injuring him permanently.

    I know other QBs have played hurt, but Nelson's injury is apparently affecting his ability to throw the ball (and his fiery attitude, which was his biggest strength). It's kind of like playing a kicker who has an injured kicking foot, or playing a wide receiver with a cast on his right hand.

    I do think that Hill is a better all around athlete than Nelson. Why? Because that's what people from the team have said. I'm excited for Hill's future at BYU, but that doesn't necessarily mean that I think Hill is better than a healthy Riley at this exact moment, but I do think that he is better than an injured Riley.

  • DH48 West Jordan, UT
    Sept. 23, 2012 6:31 p.m.

    Mike, I understand your point about Riley Nelson but I challenge you to name one game against a legitimate opponent where he performed well. He has a flown record because he beat up on the weakest part of BYU's schedule last year but the only "name " team he has beaten was a bad Washington State team. Riley has not in any way, shape or form proven himself to be a legitimate QB. Be that the case plus an injury then give someone else a chance. No one can do worse than Riley has done.