Posts tagged Riley Nelson
Offense Grade with Jake Heaps (8 possessions, 2 FGs, 1 TD): C-
Offense Grade with Riley Nelson (4 possessions, 2 TDs, 1 missed FG, 1 fumble): A-
Talk about a tale of two offenses. Riley Nelson energized the entire team near the end of the third quarter and the offense promptly doubled the total yardage and points they had scored with Heaps at the helm. If not for DiLuigi’s fumble at the Utah State 28-yard line on the third drive under Nelson, the Cougars could’ve had another score.
Nelson’s line compared to Heaps:
Nelson: 10 of 14 (71.4%), 144 yards (10.3 yds per att), 2 TDs and 205.0 QB Rating.
Heaps: 11 of 26 (42.3%) 108 yards (4.2 yds per att), 77.2 QB Rating.
Nelson also ended up as BYU’s leading rusher with 62 yards on 11 carries (5.6 yd avg). DiLuigi gained 50 yards on 11 carries (4.5 yd avg) and he had a costly fumble at the Aggie 28-yard line with 4 minutes remaining that almost cost the Cougars the game. Bryan Kariya pounded out 42 yards on 11 rushs (3.8 avg) and Josh Quezada had 10 carries good for 40 yards and a 4.0 avg.
Several of Jake Heaps passes were dropped. It literally seemed like the receiver corps improved with Nelson at the helm. Cody Hoffman had a brilliant TD catch and finished with 4 grabs for 68 yards. McKay Jacobson had 3 receptions for 49 yards including a 40-yard gainer that kept the game-winning drive alive, and Marcus Mathews had 6 grabs for 46 yards and the winning TD.
Defense Grade: B-
You could literally call it a tale of two defenses, as well. The defense gave up 21 points to USU while Jake Heaps was in the game. After Nelson entered, they surrendered one FG. It didn’t hurt that the offense ate up over 10 minutes of clock under Nelson’s command. The defense was energized by an offense that could move the ball and they responded with some huge stops to keep the game within striking distance. Daniel Sorenson made a huge pass breakup on the Aggie’s 4th down fake punt attempt.
The Aggies gashed the defense for 283 yards on the ground, but only gave up 122 yards through the air. Aggie quarterback Chuckie Keeton was held to 52 percent completions and only 22 yards on 6 carries, effectively limiting his big play capability. 80 yards were consumed on USU’s first possession and first play of the game from scrimmage with Robert Turbin’s touchdown scamper.
Special Teams Grade: B
Definitely not the shining star like last week. Justin Sorenson hit 2 out of 3 field goal attempts … his one miss could have been a killer in the end. J.D. Falslev misplayed a crucial punt at the 3-minute mark in the final quarter and the ball rolled to the BYU 4-yard line. He could have fielded the punt and kept the ball out around the 30 to help the cause. It was a huge mental mistake.
Riley Stephenson had a 44.8-yard punting average on 4 punts and Cody Hoffman returned 4 kicks for 90 yards. Kickoff and punt coverage was quite solid. Ezekial Ansah had a really sweet tackle on one Aggie kickoff return.
Coaching Grade: B
Quite frankly, this grade is inflated only because the tough but necessary decision to yank Heaps in favor of Nelson was made before it was too late to salvage the game.
Without the warrior mentality that Nelson brought to the field (which seemed to be contagious almost immediately), the team was incredibly lethargic on both sides of the ball. It was like watching a train wreck in slow motion.
It will be very interesting to see how the team responds from here on with Nelson in the signal caller driver’s seat. How will Doman deal with the emotional fallout young Heaps is certain to experience?
Overall Team Grade: B-
If the team had been better prepared and played with more passion from the start, they would have won this game more decisively.
BYU is a difficult team to read right now. They’ve got the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde shtick going pretty well just in time for Halloween. Bronco Mendenhall went from talking about this team being “really special” and “better than he expected” back in August to “every game will be a close and hard-fought” from now on.
Two losses in your first five games, including an embarrassing butt kicking by your archrival will do that to you.
Now throw a quarterback controversy back into the mix. That chapter was supposed to be in the past for the Cougars. Done. Gone with last year’s rebuilding effort. But wait – all of the sudden this season looks like it’s another rebuilding one.
Utah State had BYU on the ropes last week and failed to deliver the knockout blow.
Credit Brandon Doman for making a QB switch and Riley Nelson for coming in and pulling off what every great BYU quarterback has done before him. He gutted out a clutch win in the final moments of a game that looked like it was lost. It wasn’t pretty, but people forget that Steve Young didn’t look exactly smooth flinging the ball his first few games, either.
It was apparent to everyone that saw the USU game that the team was visibly more aggressive and positive once Nelson took over for Heaps. Receivers started hustling more to the ball and making the tough catch. The defense regained their mojo and remembered how to tackle.
The players felt it. Senior McKay Jacobson said, “You could tell that all of us were playing with a little bit more heart out there.”
The looming question heading into this week’s game is do you mess with that jolt of energy and fighter instinct vibe that Nelson brought to the team in last week’s comeback win, or do you put him back on the bench and use him as your relief QB? Or do you really mess with both both your QBs heads and let them split time like the beginning of 2010 all over again?
Enter the Spartans.
You would’ve been hard pressed to find anyone willing to give San Jose State a chance in Provo at the beginning of the season. It was considered to be one of the sure wins that BYU could count on after facing four tough teams in the first month of your schedule.
Now apprehension fills the air.
The Spartans have been playing competitive football since suffering an opening season blowout loss to Stanford. They went to Fort Collins and knocked off Colorado State in overtime. That’s something Utah State couldn’t do on their home turf against the Rams. So, SJSU is riding a little wave of confidence as they come to Provo.
It doesn’t hurt that they have a solid kid calling signals for them. Senior Matt Faulkner of Texas was in the Fresno State program before transferring to San Jose. In four games this season, he’s completed better than 60 percent of his passes, averaging 216 yards in the air per game. He has a really speedy receiver in Noel Grigsby (28 receptions in 4 games) and a dependable target in 6’5, 230 tight end Ryan Otten (15 grabs, 3 TDs, 17.6 yards per catch).
Senior running back Brandon Rutley is solid and shifty, averaging 5.5 yards per carry and he’s hit paydirt six times this season. He rushed for 130 yards against CSU last week and 209 the week before in a win over New Mexico State, but hurt his ankle against the Rams and is listed as questionable for the game. One of his top blockers, guard Fred Koloto is also nursing a hurt knee and is considered questionable on the injury report as well.
Defensively, the Spartans look porous. They’ve given up an average of 408 yards per game and 31.2 points. Their defense against the run is better than their pass defense, but this is a team that believes they have a chance against the Cougars and they’ve tasted what it feels like to win a couple games in a row.
This isn’t a game where you can say BYU is going to win, hands down. It comes down to which team shows up on Saturday night.
Will we see the mistake prone, tentative effort BYU offered for nearly three full quarters against Utah State last week or the one that played with fire under Riley’s leadership for the final 20 minutes?
San Jose can put the points on the board, but I don’t expect the Spartan offensive unit will be at full strength by Saturday night. Look for a renewed team spirit behind Nelson’s leadership and the Cougars to finally put together a fairly solid win.
Prediction: BYU 34 San Jose State 14
Last week it was a tale of two offenses. This week it was a tale of two halves. That’s the same tale that we had been learning to swallow in the first four games. No wonder BYU is ranked lower than they ever have been in nearly all of the key team statistics since before the Lavell Edwards era.
Offense Grade, First Half: B+
Offense Grade, Second Half: F
The Cougars’ piled up most of their stats in the first half on the way to 443 total yards in a very balanced attack (224 yards rushing, 219 passing). Riley Nelson pulled off a disappearing act in the second half that was won by San Jose State, 10-6. He ended up with 3 touchdown passes but two picks, 65 yards rushing, but coughed up a fumble on the Spartan’s 3-yard line.
Aside from Nelson’s abysmal second half performance, Michael Alisa looked decent with 91 yards on 16 carries (5.7 avg). So did Josh Quezada (9 attempts, 47 yards, 5.2 avg).
Richard Wilson (3 catches, 66 yards, 1 TD) and McKay Jacobson (2 grabs, 63 yards, 1 TD) helped Nelson out.
Defense Grade: B
Holding the Spartan offense to 16 points is not a huge feat, considering that their star running back and his pulling guard were both out of the lineup in Provo. Nevertheless, the defense thwarted San Jose State when they had to with two picks and a 50 percent average in third down conversion attempts. Kyle Van Noy continues to play the mad beast on the field for BYU.
Special Teams Grade: B+
Justin Sorenson was perfect banging in two field goals and 3 extra points. Cody Hoffman maintained a 24.3 kickoff return average. J.D. Falslev still inspires one to hold their breath when he’s returning punts or kicks. Riley Stephenson didn’t have to punt all night.
Team Grade: C+
This is a game that BYU should have won by at least a three-touchdown margin. Riley Nelson and the offense looked pathetic in the second half.
The Cougars finally displayed the offense everyone expected to see at the beginning of the season and their ability to move the ball at will against Oregon State isn’t reflected in the 10-point margin. The Beavers may be a lower echelon Pac-12 team, but they were coming off an impressive win last weekend over Nick Foles and Arizona and they had home field advantage.
Offense grade: B+
It is now indisputable that BYU’s offense is a totally different animal with Riley Nelson taking the snaps. The entire team seems faster and appears to play harder. Nelson’s release has gotten quicker, too. He still lacks zip on a lot of his passes, but he is developing quickly. He’s got a motor that doesn’t want to stop and his field vision and rapid acceleration help buy time for his receivers to get open.
His stat line was an impressive 17-27, 217 yards, 3 TDs, 1 int., and 87 yards on 12 carries. To be sure, Nelson has gaps to address. He had Ross Apo wide open in the end zone with 6:40 remaining in the third quarter and he was five yards short with his pass.
Cody Hoffman had a stellar performance with 9 receptions, 162 yards, and a score. He made a phenomenal 46-yard grab from two defenders at the 9:21 mark of the third period that you have to see to believe. He doesn’t get separation very often but he’s got the height, the hops, the hands and the fight to come down with the ball most of the time. He’s the most reliable receiver on the team.
The ground game was virtually unstoppable and the backs are finally running north and south with a lot of punch into the line. In addition to Nelson’s yardage, Michael Alisa picked up 84 yards on 20 carries, J.J. DiLuigi had 74 yards on 8 attempts, and Josh Quezada ran three times for 26 yards.
A fumble by Alisa and a Nelson pass intercepted and returned for a touchdown lowered the final grade.
Defense grade: B+
The fact that the defense was able to hold the Beavers to 59 yards rushing after losing Hebron Fangupo and Romney Fuga early in the game is a testament to BYU’s depth and the heart that the squad is playing with right now. Matt Putnam couldn’t have returned to the team at a better time. The linebacking corps turns in a highlight reel of their own every game with Van Noy, Kaveinga, Ogletree, and Pendleton stuffing gaps, patrolling the flats, and in general, creating chaos in the opposing team’s backfield.
On one play in the late in the first half, Pendleton blitzed from the right side but failed to bring down Oregon State QB Sean Mannion. He wiped out 5-7 yards beyond the action but he popped back up and gave chase, dragging Mannion down for a 3-yard loss. Van Noy had a tackle for an 11-yard loss on an end reverse and he also picked off another pass and returned it 42 yards to set up the Cougars’ second score. Ogletree was a beast in his own right, registering two forced fumbles and an interception on three straight Beaver possessions.
Corby Eason made a few nice plays and got burned a few times, most notably on a 59-yard bomb from Sean Mannion to true freshman Brendan Cooks with 2:10 left in the third quarter.
Special teams grade: B-
Justin Sorenson booted a 33-yard field goal and had a 49-yard attempt blocked and returned 60 yards by the Beavers. The Cougars also yielded a 57-yard kickoff return by OSU’s Jordan Poyer. He averaged 19 yards on his other six returns. Cody Hoffman returned two kickoffs for a 20-yard average. Riley Stephenson placed his one punt inside the Beavers’ 20.
Team Grade: B+
This was a good road win for BYU, especially when you consider the Cougars had to overcome two turnovers, 79 yards in penalties, and a blocked field goal. The team is playing with grit and gaining momentum at a good time but their true nature will be revealed on October 28 against TCU.
BYU held TCU to their lowest total yardage output of the season. They also piled up 24 first downs to the Frogs’ 16. But this was a painful game for Cougar fans. Were it not for two botched punts, a fumble and two interceptions, BYU could have won this one. And don’t let the 38 points TCU scored fool you. The defense played much better than the final score might indicate. BYU clearly looked like the better team but they kept shooting their own toes off.
Special Teams Grade: F (but Falslev’s punt return for TD raises it to a D+).
Riley Stephenson mishandled two punts that gave Texas Christian excellent field position inside Cougar territory, both leading to scores. He also had a muffed punt that gave the Frogs the ball at the BYU 47. J.D. Falslev returned a punt 67 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter and Cody Hoffman broke one kickoff return for 49 yards. Kickoff coverage was acceptable except for a 39-yard return. Justin Sorenson hit 2 of 3 field goals and two extra points. He could’ve had a chance for a third field goal but BYU elected to fake it and ended up throwing an incomplete pass. Sorenson was also hampered on a field goal attempt with just a few seconds remaining in the first half, thanks to extremely poor clock management by the coaching staff.
Offense Grade: C-
BYU out-gained Texas Christian in total yards, 354 to 283 and rolled up 24 first downs to the Frogs’ 16, but Riley Nelson had two interceptions and a fumble, all of which were plays he could’ve avoided by taking the sack. He ended up taking 4 sacks, as it is. Ross Apo had a nice 42-yard catch, but had the ball stripped out of his hands on another long play that would’ve given the Cougars the ball inside the TCU 10. Nelson did run for 84 yards, the longest being a 32-yard gainer, and J.J. DiLuigi picked up 69 yards on 11 carries. Alisa and Quezada were ineffective and Kariya totaled 15 yards on 4 carries, banging one in for a touchdown. Cody Hoffman led all receivers with 4 catches for 67 yards. Aside from the turnovers, the offense moved the ball fairly well.
Defense Grade: B+
The defense was constantly forced on their heels by Stephenson’s mistakes and Nelson’s turnovers. They held TCU quarterback Casey Pachall 75 yards under his per game average and TCU’s 283 total yards was their lowest offensive output this season. There were a few bonehead plays made on defense – one a flagrant penalty on Brandon Ogletree on TCU’s first series that resulted in 15 yards and a first down that led to a quick TD. But all in all, the defense kept the Cougars in the game.
Coaching Grade: D-
This was a winnable game and it’s difficult to imagine that execution is all on the players’ heads. The team was disorganized, uninspired, and visibly lacked the fire we saw at the close of the Utah State game or a couple weeks ago against Oregon State. Riley Nelson is not a stupid kid, but his three big turnovers and a several other ill-advised passes that were nearly intercepted indicate either that he is, or that there is a serious lack of attention for refining his game in practice. The Cougars left three points on the field when they tried a poorly conceived fake field goal pass, and another three points were lost at the end of the first half because of poor clock management that forced the field goal unit to race onto the field and try to get a kick off. Justin Sorenson slipped in the process of his kick and was way off the mark. There is a vibe about this team that just seems out of whack. The talent is clearly there and the coaching is not molding it properly.
Overall Team Grade: C-
This game was winnable. BYU had the talent – and finally the speed – to keep up with TCU but their lack of discipline and poor execution cost the Cougars the game.
They did exactly what was expected of them. Nothing more, nothing less. And that’s okay. Now that they’re getting used to the WACky portion of their schedule, the Cougars need to make sure they are thumping all of these third-rung opponents like Boise State did when it ruled the roost. Keep in mind the scorecard reflects the quality of the opponent.
Offense Grade: B+
Props to Riley Nelson who looked pretty good the short time he was on the field (4-7, 56 yards, 1 TD) and to Jake Heaps for coming in and keeping the offense chugging without a hitch (15-20, 185 yards, 2 TDs, 1 Int – and a big improvement with 9.3 ypa). Michael Alisa cranked out 9.9 yards per carry and a score on ten touches to lead the running backs. Bryan Kariya notched two scores on six carries (35 yards, 5.8 avg). Cody Hoffman is still proving himself to be the go-to guy through the air. He had 6 receptions for 114 yards and 2 TDs. His season stats are: 43 grabs, 672 yards, 6 TDs. The Offense had a nice blend of rushing attack (243 yards) and passing (262 yards) and dominated in time of possession, 34:02 – 25:58.
Defense Grade: B+
LB Kyle Van Noy (9 solo tackles, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble and 2 TFLs) continues to demonstrate why he’ll be on every pre-season All-American list next year. It was nice to see Jordan Johnson and Alani Fua getting some more experience on the field – both played well. Johnson and Spencer Hadley each a pick, and Hadley returned his 48 yards. For all intents and purposes, the Defense hurled a shutout; Idaho got their points on the board in the last 4 minutes of the game when they were down by six scores. The Defense held Idaho to 10 first downs and 241 total yards.
Special Teams Grade: B
Justin Sorensen was perfect on six extra point attempts but missed on two field goal attempts of 35 and 47 yards. Riley Stephenson handled two punts for a 42-yard average with one kick inside the Vandals 20. Hoffman had a 38-yard kickoff return, and Falslev fielded three punts for seven total yards.
Coaching Grade: B+
The coaching staff kept the team from growing complacent during their two-week break. And they were smart enough to make sure James Lark got some field action. It will be important to get him some more playing time next week against New Mexico State, too, because at this point, he’s one injury away from being the starting QB for Brigham Young.
Overall Team Grade: B+