BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall didn't have a lot to say after practice Monday night regarding the quarterback situation, other than to reiterate that senior Riley Nelson "is still beat up" and that they will follow last week's format. That means freshman Taysom Hill will get most or all of the reps the first few practices of the week, and coaches will keep a close eye on Nelson's condition. A decision regarding the starter will be made Wednesday or Thursday, and nothing will be announced until Friday.
"So much of it is just based on how [Nelson] feels, and his pain tolerance, which I know is really high. He wants to play desperately in this game, but he is also realistic, and so it is hard to predict," Mendenhall said.
Then there's offensive coordinator Brandon Doman, who stayed on the practice field long after Mendenhall had left, answering question after question about Nelson's status, Hill's play against Hawaii, and a variety of other topics.
I'm not going to say there's a disconnect between Mendenhall and Doman when it comes to their views on the situation, but it quickly becomes apparent that Mendenhall has much higher hopes of Nelson playing on Friday than Doman does. Maybe it is wishful thinking. Maybe it is a little bit of gamesmanship to throw off the Aggies. Who knows?
Doman seems more ready to annoint Hill the starter and move on. For instance, there's this from Doman:
"I would say that Riley is just not healthy. When you are hurt the way he was hurt, man, he just wasn't able to be who he needed to be for this football team. So when he is ready to be that guy, and when he is healthy, then we will re-evaluate at that point and get Riley going and get him back into the swing of things."
Doman acknowledged that Nelson "did a heck of a lot more today than he did last Monday, as far as just moving around," but in the same answer he proclaimed, "It just isn't worth it for him, and it is not worth it for the team. So right now, Taysom took the majority of the reps, and will continue to do that, and will play in Friday's game, unless we are told otherwise."
My take is that Mendenhall wants to give Nelson every opportunity to get healthy enough to play, while Doman wants to move on with Hill as the clearcut starter, the one getting all the reps, and give Nelson a few more weeks to recover.
"I think we have a really good true freshman quarterback that can play football really well, and if he continues to progress, he will be a great quarterback at BYU for the next while," Doman said. "And he's got competition that's really good coming right on his heels from other players on this team, which is a great sign ... Ammon Olsen that is running our scout offense [is one of those competitors]."
Pressed on Nelson's condition, Doman said:
"I haven't even talked to the doctor yet today. He will see the doctor tonight. He's been seeing the doctor every day, and I haven't seen the report yet today, so we didn't use him much. He came out and was throwing the ball mad, and throwing it fast. He wanted to prove he was back to normal. He looked fine today, but I don't know yet, until the doctor tells me."
Finally, there's this from Doman on whether it helps to make a decision on the starter earlier in the week:
"I don't think so. The game plan is a simple game plan. We are not doing a whole lot of stuff. Maybe that is why we were better. I say that tongue in cheek, but that is probably why we were better.
And it is a plan that Riley can execute, so in the event that Riley plays, I think he will execute it well. But it is a script that we need Taysom to execute, if he is going to play.
So [Taysom] took every team rep today, and we will see what the doctors say. He may take every team rep tomorrow. It is a short week, so we will see. We will make a decision that is right for this team. It ultimately will be coach Mendenhall's decision, and Riley, Taysom and I will lock arms, and we will go."
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