Heaps: It is not my team. It is our team.
Jake Heaps kept us all waiting after practice tonight, staying on the field to do extra work with his receivers before strolling over to talk to reporters about Tuesday's news that he is now the starting quarterback at BYU. Heaps will become the first freshman right out of high school to start for the Cougars since Drew Miller did so in 1997 in a 14-3 loss at UTEP. The last freshman to start for the Cougars at QB was John Beck, but he did so after an LDS Church mission. It may never be known for sure who coach Bronco Mendenhall was going to start on Saturday, but my guess is that it would have been Heaps. Of course, the starter in the first three games, Riley Nelson, suffered a shoulder injury that coaches and trainers say will require surgery. As expected, the ever-confident Heaps said he is ready to be the starter, ready to lead the team, and ready to get the BYU offense on track. More of his comments tonight: * On being named the starter: " It is a great opportunity. It is really unfortunate what is going on. But it is a time where I got to step up. I got to help this team out the best way that I can, and that's what I am going to try to do. These guys are rallying around me, and I couldn't ask to be around a better group of guys." On when he heard the news: "I heard the news yesterday morning. It was surreal, it was exciting. Being the quarterback at BYU, this is a special opportunity. It means a lot to me. So I am going to work as hard as I can, and do everything I possibly can to do this thing right." On whether he has spoken to Nelson "Riley is bummed. It is a tough situation. Riley is just going to take care of his business, and I am right there with him every step of the way, and he is going to be right there with me. Our relationship has been close, and it will continue staying that way." On whether more reps in practice will help: "It has been tremendous for my development and my opportunity to grow. I already feel myself getting better as each rep goes. We got a lot of improvement to make, so I got to make some improvements quick." On whether he's willing to take that kind of pressure on his shoulders:"No question. You know, that's why I came here. I didn't come here to take half of it, or to not be the guy. I came here to hopefully be the guy, and hopefully, when the time was right, to lead the team. And right now it happened, and it was under unfortunate circumstances, but it is an exciting opportunity for me and I am going to work as hard as I can. Like I said, it means a lot to me."On whether it will be easier because he won't have to look over his shoulder and fret about messing up and losing the job: "No, not at all. The relationship that me and Riley had I am so thankful for that opportunity, and that learning experience that I have had, and that me and Riley both had battling together and working together. I leaned on him, and he leaned on me. It was an extremely healthy relationship and I am going to miss him a lot this season. So I am excited for the opportunity to go out there and lead this team."On his readiness to be the starter:"Ready enough, I guess. If the coaches put it in my hands, I guess I am ready enough. I just got to go out there and prove that I am ready." On whether he was told if he was going to be the starter before Riley needed surgery: "I knew that there were going to be some changes. I didn't know exactly what they were going to be. But with the recent news and stuff, my role definitely increased." On whether this is his team now:"It is our team. It is not my team. It is our team. There are 105 of us on this team. It is not just about me. But I need to step up as a leader. I need to step up and make plays and demand a lot out of our guys. We are all excited for this week, and for this week of practice. We had a good practice today, so I am excited." On how playing the second half vs. Florida State prepared him to start: "It was a perfect opportunity for me. I took some hits, and I had an opportunity to play against some great athletes and a great team in Florida State. Nevada is a great team, so I am really excited. I thought that was a great learning experience for me, and so I am just excited to keep it going." On how the team will respond to the Riley loss and to two on-field losses: "I think where our head is at is in the right place. I think our team is hungry and we have the right drive and passion for this game. Like I said, we had a great practice today, so I am excited for this week."On whether his confidence is shaken because he got the starting job due to an injury: "No. not at all. I don't know that it was necessarily the injury that made the decision or what the case was. But I have the role that is designated to me, and whether I got it one way or another, I got to do it the best way that I can. So it has not confidence issues whatsoever. It is just about me going out there and doing the best that I can." On how the offense will change: "It definitely fits my strengths. And it is tailored around my strengths, and what this offense does really well. We got a great run game, we got a great offensive line. We got great running backs and really talented receivers out there. It is going to be my job to facilitate all that." On becoming a freshman starter at BYU: "It is unbelievable. It is a great opportunity and one that I am so grateful for. And I am not going to take it very lightly at all. I am going to give it everything that I have, and do the best that I can, and really, this means a lot to me." On whether the offense can keep pace with Nevada: "I don't think it has ever been an issue of what our offensive firepower has been, or what we are capable of. I think it is a matter of us going out there and executing, and what we are going to be able to do on every single play. If we are executing on every play and doing the things that we are supposed to, we can go up there and put 50 points on the board every game. So it is just a matter of execution, and how we take it into our own hands." On when he was told Riley was hurt: "I was told this morning."
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