Quarterback questions will continue at least another week for BYU
For the second straight weekend, I couldn't go anywhere without being asked about BYU's quarterback situation. Who's going to start against Utah State on Friday (8:15 p.m., ESPN), senior Riley Nelson or freshman Taysom Hill? As I noted in this article in today's Tribune, I expect BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall to follow the same routine this week as he did last week. I suspect he and offensive coordinator Brandon Doman will assess Nelson's readiness level during the first three practices of the week, then decide Wednesday night. The starter won't be apparent until players come out for warmups some 90 minutes before kickoff. I asked Hill in the postgame news conference after the 47-0 win over Norm Chow and Hawaii when he learned he would start. "I mean, I had an idea at the beginning of the week, but it was solidified [Thursday]," he said. In case you didn't watch the entire video of Hill's remarks that I posted Sunday, here's what he said when I asked him if he believes he played well enough to earn the starting spot going forward: "I am not sure. You know, that's not my decision, or anything like that. I won't get caught up in that right now," he said. Whatever happens, the QBs will support each other, unlike last year when Jake Heaps was clearly a disinterested bystander when Nelson took over. "Riley was great [Friday night]," Hills said. "Riley has been through this. He's a senior year, and he has a lot of experience. He knows the team and what I was going into. All throughout the week, he was giving me pointers and everything else. All throughout the game, on the sideline, he was another set of eyes for me, which was really great." Hill also said student assistant Max Hall was also very helpful during the week and during the game, for those of you who have emailed me before the Utah game wondering if Hall is not worth the distraction. A key was BYU's start, as Hill drove the Cougars 77 yards in nine plays on its first possesion. It was the first time BYU scored points on its opening drive since beating New Mexico State 42-7 in Game 11 last year. "Yeah, it was huge, and something that we had talked about all week, and we really emphasized in practice, running in and out of the huddle, and starting fast, and doing things like that. And it showed today, and it started in Monday's practice. When you have a defense that is playing as well as ours is, when you can come out and score on an opening drive, that just gives us a great opportunity to win the game," Hill said. The Cougars threw for just 144 yards better than the previous week against Boise State - but certainly not what ESPN believed it was getting when it signed BYU to a longterm TV deal a few years ago. Still, it was cool to see senior James Lark get in and complete both his passes for 32 total yards. Hill was 12 of 21 or 112 yards. "Progress in terms of vision, in terms of maturity, and in terms of poise," BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said regarding Hill's performance. "Again, he had most of the reps all week. That was helpful. Right now the mobility, and the short throws, and not having to read the entire field, is about where he is. Eventually, the dropback game will catch up. That takes a little bit longer. And in most cases, he was protected really well I thought. Anytime you can run it, that makes it easier on an offense." Notre Dame didn't play, Army lost to one of former Utah basketball coach Rick Majerus' favorite cupcakes, Stony Brook, and Navy was blanked 12-0 by a San Jose State team that looks like it is going to be able to give Utah State some trouble in two weeks and BYU some trouble on Nov. 17. Hence, competition for the FBS Independent Players of the Week award wasn't that intense this week. BYU's Hill is the Offensive Player of the Week, BYU cornerback Preston Hadley is the defensive player of the week and Navy punter Pablo Beltran is the special teams player of the week. Hadley, from Pleasant Grove, made six tackles, including a sack which forced a fumble, and had two pass breakups.