ATI 2.7 – BYU Football vs. Oregon State Beavers

What do you make of the unfortunate events that have put Riley Nelson back in as starting QB?

Carl:  Sad to say the very least.  Makes a fan, and possibly Hill, wonder why he transferred from Stanford.  It’s a shock to me that coaches and players can’t figure out that no more plays are needed and kneel down is in order.  It’s simple math that my son can figure out.  It’s a shock to me that a timeout wasn’t automatic to the coaches when it was clear Taysom didn’t get the call for the victory formation.  And it’s shocking to me why our offense isn’t better.  We’ve got players that will be playing on Sunday out there.  Why is there no faith in our offense?  Why do we have to rely on the quarterback running to move the football?  Why do we not trust our defense enough to try and make plays offensively?  Why do the coaches refuse to open up new chapters of the playbook?  This is by far the most confusing season ever from an offensive standpoint.

Matt: I think “grit and determination” have proven to be the buzzword bane of Bronco Mendenhall’s existence now and I hope he wishes he’d never lauded a quarterback with those awful adjectives.  G & D are great qualities in a defensive player, but in a quarterback, you should value things like passing, intelligence and football IQ.  He created this monster of quarterbacks putting their helmets down to deliver a blow that ultimately cost Riley Nelson his back injury (and consequently two football games) and Taysom Hill his knee and at least six months of rehab. 

How can BYU manufacture more points?

Carl:  Unfortunately, the kicking game…as much as I hate to go back to that well, we’d arguably be 6-0 right now with just a reliable kicker.  Now that the coaching staff know they won’t kick, it’s not helping the kicking game with any sort of confidence.  Yet we’ve been through six games and we’re giving up 8.5 points a game.  Sure four field goals a game would do.  Take advantage of your field position dominance with Stephenson punting, get a couple field goals that way, score another one on a turnover and a short field, and get a fourth on the one good drive by the offense of the entire game.  With Oregon State’s quarterback out, the only tough game that remains where BYU needs to score touchdowns is Notre Dame.  Everything else can be won by good defense and field goals.  It may not be pretty, but a W is a W.

Matt: It has to be through the air.  Riley Nelson has to start stretching the defenses and he has to start taking care of himself.  He threw for about 250 yards against this defense last year and they aren’t the 106th ranked passing defense for a reason; throw the ball.

With a banged up Nelson, proof is in the pudding that running your quarterbacks 93 times in six games just gets two of them hurt.  Does Brandon Doman finally settle on more passing and less running?

Carl:  Yes, and Bronco Mendenhall essentially admonished him to do so in his post practice interview on Monday.  He said running that much is ‘Not Sustainable.’ Doman should have heard clearly ‘Fix It Now.’  There must be a level of trust between the team to let offense go through the growing pains expanding the offense to keep a quarterback on the field longer than three games.  Trust that defense will have the offenses back if a turnover is made.  Trust that the offensive line will protect the blind side of Nelson or Lark in throwing situations. Trust the receivers to be where you tell them they will be on timing routes.  See the field, be the field and throw the ball down the field.  The receivers won’t look open, but throw the ball where it’s designed to go.  Trust the receivers to be there and make a play.  I appreciated one of Greg Wrubell’s tweets regarding the touchdown scored last week before halftime.  In effect, he said less thinking and analyzing, and more precision and trust throwing to a spot. And for heaven’s sake, employ a full-time dual running back set with the quarterback in shotgun please!  And this time, it will protect Nelson.  He’ll know exactly how long he has to throw the football, most of where the pressure is coming from, keep him in the pocket, and the ability to see defensive alignments.

Matt: I still think this season is a run attack offense, but you’ve got to start extending the field.  Nelson can toss it just fine about 20 yards, assuming his back is healed enough.  Some quick snap and throw passes will keep the defensive backs honest especially if the threat of it will open up some over-the-top passes to Cody Hoffman and Ross Apo.  Then the field should be open for Jamaal Williams to run crazy (though not too crazy as this is the 4th ranked rushing defense in the nation.)  The key to a win Saturday will be via the passing game though, however painful it may look.

I’m putting the over/under on games Riley Nelson will play the rest of the way this season at 2.5 (that’s games from start to finish).  Are you taking the over or the under?

Carl:  If he makes it through Notre Dame, he’ll finish the season.  That being said, I’m thinking he’ll be injured during Notre Dame…probably by former BYU hopeful Manti Te’o. But I’m actually excited to see what Lark can do in his long-awaited debut as starter under center.  He’s the purest passer of the bunch left.  I’d like to see what Doman could do with a pure passer again.  I remember the things he could do with Beck and Hall.

Matt: I’m not convinced he can stay healthy.  I’m eating the words I uttered on the Dog and Deuce Show preseason CFB preview when I said I thought Nelson was being labeled “injury prone” but really wasn’t.  Sure, the shots he takes may not be his fault (shot to the chest while standing in the pocket or a shot to the back, again, not his fault) but the point is, he gets hurt easily.  Furthermore, if he isn’t truly healed from this latest injury, I expect the coaches to pull him in favor of James Lark.  I’m taking the under.  We’ll see him miss extended time before Georgia Tech is over.

Prediction:

Carl: At the beginning of the season, I had this game as a win.  After last week, I had this as a loss.  With the news of Hill and Mannion out, I’m not sure what to think.  What I do know is there is a drop off when losing your starting quarterback.  I expect the Beavers to be less potent on offense.  On the other side, Riley is just as effective as a second string quarterback, so both teams are essentially in the same position.  What I also know is Cougar fans have every indication that our defense is head and shoulders better than Oregon State’s.  That will be the difference maker Saturday, as well as most of the other games this season.  Look for the defense to confuse and frustrate Vaz, putting their offense in a tough spot moving the football and keeping their speed receivers at bay.

BYU- 13 Oregon St- 6

Matt: Just like Carl, I had a win, then a loss, then news of Mannion broke and it was a win, and then news of Hill broke and now I just don’t know.  I agree with Carl; there will be a drop-off in play for the Beavers.  Because unlike Cody Vaz, Riley Nelson already commands respect in his locker room and players will play for him.  I expect that will be the difference-maker this week.  However, it won’t amount to much more production than his last start if he isn’t fully healthy.  A fully healthy Nelson can give away one turnover and still get this team into the endzone twice.  This defense isn’t going to budge though.  I’ll agree with Carl and give BYU the 13-6 nod.

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