Mendenhall's comments on the quarterback situation
Obviously, questions about the rotating quarterback system dominated BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall's news conference today. As outlined in the post before this one, Mendenhall said he wants the assistant coaches in charge of rotating the quarterbacks, Robert Anae and Brandon Doman, to think more situationally and ditch their every-other-series routine. Following are Mendenhall's comments on the quarterback situation. Later, I will post his responses to the questions that had less to do with the QB shuffle. On whether the offense has lacked an identity due to the quarterback shuffling: "I am not sure that had as much to do with it. We really have played and our really trying to be as effective as possible at grooming and training our younger quarterback in Jake Heaps, and in that particular game, the way that it was playing out, it seemed wiser at that time, and again it was coach Anae and coach Doman, they can collectively work through that. I am giving them the power to do that but it seemed with the nature of the game it was wiser to play a little bit more experienced and mature young man, even though Jake is very, very capable and he is going to be a fantastic player and probably this year. It just seemed wise to protect him a little bit in that game." On whether he's worried about taking a freshman QB into Florida State's stadium: "I would be [a worry] if it was a normal freshman. But I think what you are already finding with Jake is that he's poised and he's seasoned and we wouldn't even be considering him playing as a freshman if he wasn't atypical. So I think he will handle it well, based on the role that he is given." On what the plan is for the quarterback rotation system in the future: "Still being developed. We met as an offensive staff and head coach this morning, and I can't give you a definitive answer at this point. Most likely, if there is, and when the plan comes in place, it will probably move away from the every-other-series mode and the reps might become more situational. That was a little bit of the information that we talked about this morning, but too early to give you a definitive answer on it." On whether Oklahoma's success passing against FSU will have an effect on who might play QB against them: "It might. We need to throw the ball more effectively than we currently are. If you looked at the Air Force game in particular, we ran the ball effectively, but had very little success throwing the football. The Washington game was more representative of the balance that I think we're hoping to get. In order to beat Florida State, it will have to be more toward the first plan than the second plan. Again, it is still in formative stages. And that will probably affect which quarterback plays and how much."On his role in the quarterback rotation system: "It is interesting, and it is different. So I met with our offensive staff this morning. I rarely do that. Just to kind of weigh in and give a bigger picture perspective. And it's quite an interesting thing because the quarterbacks are so different in style, that really is providing us the biggest challenge in terms of practice reps. The easy answer, most likely would be because Jake is very similar to our previous quarterbacks in terms of ability, to do that and add Riley as the complement. Yet, Riley's current preparation in terms of maturity and maybe even leading the team is probably at a little bit higher level right now, and so, even though the style is different. It's a very unique situation. So I am trying to add big picture questions, and help the offensive staff resolve and sort through it. All things considered, that certainly had an influence on the game we played a week ago, just while sorting that out, in addition to playing Air Force." On whether he would ever tell Robert Anae or Brandon Doman what to do: "Possibly. I am closer in having an opinion this week than I was the week before. I think it will be that way as the season goes on, as I get to see our team play and get to see the identity of this team come out. I've seen a big step just internally in how I've felt from week one to week two. I could project that happening. I am not sure when. After not thinking that it would be that way, it certainly could."On what that opinion is: "The opinion is really just pretty simple in that if I were to divide the two quarterbacks right now, one would be a little bit more mature in terms of grit and leadership and command of the team, and the other has the potential of really throwing the football and being more of kind of a traditional BYU quarterback, which is no surprise to anybody. I think again more situationally now, against which teams we're playing, might start to determine how the quarterbacks are used and emphasized. So as you saw in the Washington game, it was series by series. That's how it started against Air Force. It could very well end up being more, like I said, situational and based on opponents and what their perceived strengths or weaknesses might be."On whether Riley Nelson is running too much:"I think it's a delicate balance, because it's what he does so well. But if you also look at the wear and tear, he probably couldn't hold that up for 12 games. There is going to have to be a complement of throwing the ball at a higher level within plays that complement the running plays for him to have the success he needs to, and for the point production to reach the level it needs to. While the running is effective and helps us maintain ball control and get first downs, it doesn't lead to points without throwing as well, so you have to have some balance. I think If Riley remains in that role, getting the majority of the snaps, then the pass game will have to improve to complement the run game, otherwise I don't think anyone could sustain the wear and tear."