BYU Football: Riley Nelson ends QB Hostage Crisis with 27-24 win over Utah State

Scott LambsonContributor IIIOctober 1, 2011

The hostage crisis in Provo is finally over, and BYU football just got a lot more exciting to watch.

It may have taken nearly a year of painful shortcomings, but Offensive Coordinator Brandon Doman finally mustered up the courage to bench the most overhyped quarterback in BYU history in Jake Heaps.

In all fairness to Heaps, he is just a sophomore, and although he did do his own share of self-hype, it was the BYU coaching staff who refused to make the much-needed change until five weeks into the season.

And a painful five weeks it was, until tonight.

After watching Riley Nelson run, pass, and bulldoze over the Aggie defense, two questions quickly came to mind.

One, what took so long? And two, what could have been?

Why did it take BYU nearly half a season to give Riley Nelson an opportunity?

After all, didn't Riley start a year ago? Didn't he have better stats than Heaps when the two were splitting time before Riley was injured?

Wasn't Riley one of the most prolific QB's to ever come out of the state of Utah?

While covering Riley in high school, I was always impressed by his positive attitude and his desire to compete and win games.

Simply put, Riley is a playmaker, a QB with the ability to react to the defense and make something out of nothing.

So why on earth did it take so long for Riley to get an opportunity other than the ridiculous, predictable third-and-2, when Doman would insert him to run for one play?

What did the BYU coaching staff owe Heaps, that they didn't owe Riley or even James Lark for that matter?

In all my years of watching sports, I've never seen a coaching staff take so long to bench a sluggish, slumping, sophomore quarterback, especially when they had an experienced healthy backup standing on the sidelines begging for a chance.

In all reality, the move should have been made at the start of the fourth quarter at Texas, when it was clearly evident the Cougar offense was in peril after seven quarters of complete ineffectiveness.

It took the Texas Longhorns less than two games to bench their starting QB, why did it take BYU five weeks?

The BYU coaching staff will most likely stay mum on the subject, but it certainly felt as if the Cougar offense was being held hostage by "Hype."

Hype and high school stats have never won a collegiate game. It takes something deeper than that, something we all saw tonight, when Riley Nelson led a comeback win with gritty determination, and personal sacrifice.

When Riley needed to run, he did it himself, head first, and nothing was going to stop him.

When he needed to pass, he willed the ball to his receivers and tight ends. They might not have been the prettiest throws, but they found their targets, and for touchdowns.

Riley threw more touchdowns in one quarter than Heaps nearly threw all year.

So it begs the question?

What might have been had BYU inserted Riley into the Texas game in the fourth quarter?

Of course we will never know, but after watching both the BYU offense and defense respond to Riley's winning attitude, it sure makes you wonder?

It was like the lights turned on, and the BYU of yesteryear had returned.

I know one thing, and that is both the Longhorns and Utes would have had a much more difficult time defending a quarterback that can run like a fullback as well pass the ball.

Trust me, I'm not just jumping on the Riley Nelson bandwagon because he pulled out a dramatic win.

No, I've been behind Riley since his transfer from Utah State.

Last year, after the BYU loss at Air Force, when everyone was calling for Heaps to be the full-time starter, I wrote an article calling for Riley to remain the starter.

"Riley Nelson Should Remain BYU's Starting QB After Air Force Debacle"

In the above article, I stated that no matter what the hype on Heaps was, that Riley was still the better quarterback.

I was correct then, and I am still correct.

This should have been Riley's team the past two years.

What could have been?

We shall never know.

But one thing we all know after tonight is that BYU is Riley's team now.

And he brought the fun back with him.


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