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Posts Tagged ‘Riley Nelson’

No. 20: B.Y.U.

The suspicion was there in October and November, but it didn’t become official until Riley Nelson duped Tulsa, Dan Marino-style, late in the fourth quarter of December’s Armed Forces Bowl. Then it was official: Nelson’s become a legend. Not quite a Ty Detmer-level legend, mind you; Detmer was legendary, and there’s a difference. Nelson’s a legend in the Merriam-Webster definition of the word, third from the top: “a popular myth of recent origin.” Popular? Nelson’s popularity is off the charts in Provo, thanks to the way he put B.Y.U. on his shoulders and carried it to a 10-win season despite a horribly disappointing start. Nelson wasn’t due to see the field at all, not with Jake Heaps back for a full season as the starter, but a funny thing happened on the road to the Heisman: Heaps struggled. Nelson’s ascension to the starting role, so vital last fall, now gives B.Y.U. a leader, an identity and a shot at making some national noise in its second go-round as an Independent.

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    The Year in Review: B.Y.U. (10-3, 0-0)

    The suspicion was there in October and November, but it didn’t become official until Riley Nelson duped Tulsa, Dan Marino-style, late in the fourth quarter of December’s Armed Forces Bowl. Then it was official: Nelson’s become a legend. Not quite a Ty Detmer-level legend, mind you; Detmer was legendary, and there’s a difference. Nelson’s a legend in the Merriam-Webster definition of the word, third from the top: “a popular myth of recent origin.” Popular? Nelson’s popularity is off the charts in Provo, thanks to the way he put B.Y.U. on his shoulders and carried it to a 10-win season despite a horribly disappointing start. Mythical? Nelson wasn’t due to see the field at all, so the idea that he’d be the point man behind the Cougars’ second-half climb .

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      Nelson Channels His Inner Dan Marino

      I remember it well: Nov. 27, 1994, and Dan Marino, along with Bernie Kosar, a forgotten collaborator, shocked the flummoxed New York Jets by pulling the most brazen and audacious of post-snap stunts. Down by a field goal, 24-21, at the Jets’ eight-yard line with 22 seconds left and no timeouts, Marino made the universal signal for spiking the football — yelling “Fire!” and miming the spike, for example — as his team rushed to the line of scrimmage. Up to the moment when the ball was supposed to leave his hands, stopping the clock, all went according to plan for Dolphins and Jets alike. Then it didn’t, and I can still remember the call from the Jets’ radio team: “He stood there like a house on the side of the road!”

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        Missing: A Much-Needed Marquee Win

        If we know anything, it’s that B.Y.U. is going to lose to Tulsa. Huh? Well, the Cougars have beat only one bowl team all season, Utah State, and the team’s remaining seven F.B.S. wins came against squads that combined for 30 victories on the season. Ergo, one can make the following conclusion: B.Y.U. is not good against good teams. And yes, Tulsa is a good team; a very good team, depending on which team shows up, and more than capable of blowing the Cougars’ doors off. B.Y.U. needs to batten down the hatches.

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          Ten Themes for Saturday: Week 6

          Ten teams, themes, games and players to watch on Saturday. Pretty straightforward. Here we go:

          I’m ready to believe I think Kansas State has done enough through four games to justify a national ranking — I think so, at least. This is based largely on the last two weeks, when the Wildcats first beat Miami (Fla.) on the road and then outlasted Baylor, 36-35. The first two games weren’t impressive, no: Eastern Kentucky and Kent State. But Kansas State has done what it’s needed to do to gain some national recognition in a top-heavy Big 12 that is also dealing with some off-field issues, if you haven’t been paying attention. When will it be fine to really believe in Kansas State’s ability to be the conference’s surprise team? If you’re not yet on board, a win today over Missouri should seal the deal. The Tigers are 2-2, but it’s a solid 2-2: the losses came via road setbacks to Arizona State, in overtime, and Oklahoma. Missouri is the best team Kansas State has played, in my estimation, and a win will provide a firm illustration of how good coaching and a dedication to doing the little things wins football games.

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            The Heaps Era Begins In Provo

            Down goes Riley Nelson, in comes Jakes Heaps -- for good. Is the freshman ready?

            I think it’s safe to say that the Jake Heaps-Riley Nelson experiment wasn’t working for Bronco Mendenhall: through three games, his Cougars rank 100th nationally in total offense, 101st in passing offense and, most notably, tied for 110th in scoring. These aren’t sights we’re used to seeing from B.Y.U., a program long famous for its success on offense. Blame the diminished totals on the uncertainty at quarterback. Accountability must fall on Mendenhall, who surely out-thought himself with the two-quarterback system. Not that you can fault Mendenhall’s logic; it’s worked elsewhere, the combination of runner — Nelson — and passer — Heaps. Unfortunately, it didn’t work in Provo. Now that Nelson’s shoulder injury will cost him the rest of the season, B.Y.U. can go back to the more familiar one-quarterback system.

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              The Countdown

              A bottom-to-top assessment of the F.B.S. landscape heading into the 2012 season.