Setting up BYU's quarterback future

Jake Heaps

With Riley Nelson in firm control of the starting quarterback position, the future of Jake Heaps has been debated. All sorts of rumblings have popped up by concerned Cougar fans who've wondered about everything from how Coach Doman's relationship with Heaps is to what the future might hold for BYU's prized quarterback.

Setting up the future of the offense by playing Jake Heaps now might seem like a wise thing to do to further prepare him for next season. But then again, maybe it's not.

"Oh man, I don't know," Coach Doman said. "People have asked me that as we prepared against Idaho State. You know, we've played good this year but not consistently. We've played good but we haven't played great. I would like to us go out there and play great. You know, whatever happens, we'll just go from there."

It is true that there hasn't been consistency from Heaps, and that's what Coach Doman is looking for. While Riley Nelson might not have all the physical tools that Heaps possesses, his consistency has led to greater offensive output, and Doman wants to continue that.

"Well, right now Riley is the starter," said Coach Doman. "We'll just continue to go down that path, and if the opportunity for Jake to go in at any time [arises], whenever that is, we'll put him in at that time."

Simply put, Coach Doman doesn't want a quarterback system where the talents of one quarterback are meshed with the talents of another.

"We won't do a dual quarterback threat system or switch out one for another in the game," Coach Doman said. "We want to play one guy and go down that path instead."

However, it's hard not to think it would be a good idea to give Heaps some valuable playing time for further development given the fact he is the future of this program. Doman doesn't agree, however.

"No, no, no" Doman quickly said with a smile. "Like I said, we haven't put together a full football game. If we were super studly, then yeah, but we're not super studly right now, so."

Coach Mendenhall mentioned that redshirting Heaps next season is an option.

"Sure, yeah, absolutely," Mendenhall said of the idea concerning Heaps redshirting. "And that would be probably a wise thing to do to create separation between he and Riley if Riley continues to play well. So it is an option we have talked about."

Under LaVell Edwards, not many true freshmen started, or even played for that matter. Coach Doman believes that Heaps can benefit from what he is experience right now.

"I certainly believe it's a great opportunity for Jake to learn, watch and grow and develop," Coach Doman said. "You'll have to ask him how he feels about it, but I do believe from my perspective that this is a great opportunity for growth."

Heaps lost the starting position to Nelson during the Utah State game. It was the first time in his career that he was pulled from the starting lineup. There have been rumblings that Heaps – who was the top quarterback recruit in the country two years ago and had more than 30 scholarship offers – could decide to transfer.

"Sometimes what this comes down to mostly is choice when wanting to grow and develop further," Doman said. "From what I've seen from Jake is that he is choosing to grow. I've been very pleased with him and what he's been doing. I really am."

"[Heaps] was actually excited about the possibility [of redshirting], but again, knowing that Riley still has to play well," Mendenhall said. "But our communication is frequent enough to where this is not just something where we are visiting about the weather. We are talking about his future and all the things that might be significant to handle not only him personally but his play on the field, and how it might be best in terms of managing that. So there isn't much we haven't talked about."

There had also been rumblings of a rift developing between Coach Doman and Heaps following Heaps losing the starting quarterback position. While it's reasonable to suggest that being pulled was difficult for Heaps, as it would be for any competitor, the two have never lost the bond between them.

"It's been great," Coach Doman said. "Yeah, I'm out here coaching him up a lot. I don't pay any attention and I don't know if people have any idea of how Jake and I are communicating. I'm with him every single day and that's really all I have to say about that."

Coach Doman is happy about his relationship with Heaps.

"I feel great about it," Doman said with a smile. "I really do."

That is good news to the ears of BYU fans, and should calm their nerves and put to rest any misconceptions that might have arisen from what was looked at as a very controversial decision.

In the meantime, Coach Doman will continue to coach up and develop Heaps while allowing Nelson to run the offense and go forward at the quarterback helm.

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