John Beck is completely healthy, then he will be the starter. Right now, I'm going into this week's game (Stanford) thinking that Matt Berry will be the starting quarterback." That's the most definitive word – and probably not the last – from BYU head coach Gary Crowton at his weekly media luncheon Wednesday."/>

Matt Berry Gets Stanford Starting Nod -- For Now


"If <b>John Beck</b> is completely healthy, then he will be the starter. Right now, I'm going into this week's game (Stanford) thinking that <b>Matt Berry</b> will be the starting quarterback." That's the most definitive word – and probably not the last – from BYU head coach <b>Gary Crowton</b> at his weekly media luncheon Wednesday.

Junior quarterback Matt Berry, for his part, is preparing for Stanford in the mode and mindset of a starter. "I'm expecting to start and practicing as if I will start. I can't think that there is a chance John (Beck) may be ready to go. I'm getting all the reps with the first-team this week and I'm expecting to start this week. That's how you have to go about it," he told this afternoon.

Berry came off the bench cold last Saturday with eight minutes left in the first half after starter Beck went down with a shoulder injury. "It was different. It's definitely a lot easier starting and I obviously prefer that. I'm just standing there and all the sudden, without warning, coach Crowton tells me that I'm in. So yeah, it was a little hard adjusting and I need to do better with that in the future. Having had that experience last week will definitely help if I'm in that situation again," Berry said.

Crowton plans on using Jason Beck as Berry's backup if John Beck does not play. "I like Jason Beck and feel that he's come a long nicely. He has a lot of athletic ability, which is why I recruited him."

One of Berry's obvious passing options this week is junior wide receiver Todd Watkins, who had his "coming out" game last Saturday against Notre Dame in spectacular fashion. "It doesn't matter who the quarterback is. As long as they get me the ball, that's all I care about. I've been practicing with Berry all week and feel a lot more comfortable with him now. I just want the ball. I'm happy with how I played against Notre Dame, but I know that I can do a lot more than what I did last week," Watkins said.

Watkins, a JC First Team All-American last season at Grossmont College, is delighted at how everything has turned out for him since his arrival at BYU in January. "I'm in on almost every down. I'm getting a lot of playing time and I get a lot of plays called for me. Yeah, it's what I was hoping for when I signed to play here."

He reiterated his conviction that he can be even a bigger part of the offense. "Just give me the ball, man. Just give me the ball. I want to help this team as much as possible. I feel I can do that best if I have the ball in my hands," Watkins said.

Having sure-handed options like Watkins and freshman receiver Austin Collie in the rotation this year, Berry said, "I don't feel as a quarterback that I have to be absolutely perfect getting the ball to receivers. I don't feel that it has to be in the perfect place with these guys, especially with Watkins. I know that if I just get the ball anywhere close to where he is, he can make a play on that, so that's nice," he said.

Watkins readily confirmed it. "If it's anywhere near me, I'm going to go get it. I don't care if the quarterbacks hit me in stride or make it so I have to make a play on it and go up and get it. I'm going to get the ball. I have a lot of confidence in my ability and hopefully they do as well. I'm going to get the ball."

One play where Berry did not have to make his receiver go get the ball was his third quarter touchdown pass to Collie in stride for a 42-yard touchdown pass. "My deep ball is back. I feel I can hit guys down the field again and that's going to help me a lot this year. That pass to Austin wasn't perfect. I made him stretch for it a bit, but it's nice to have guys that can make that stretch and make great plays on the ball."

Collie offered a self-evaluation of his performance against Notre Dame. "I was happy with how I played, but I know I can approve in a lot of areas. Everything is just so much faster and I need to make my adjustments a bit quicker. I feel I'm doing alright with that, but it's something I need to work on. Coming out of the tunnel before the game is such a rush," he said, adding, "it's really exciting with 65,000 fans cheering for you. I'm happy with where I'm at, but I know I can get a lot better."

Speaking of his receivers, Berry added: "It's just so great to have all these new guys catch on so quickly. We already have guys like (Jason) Kukahiko, (Chris) Hale and (Rod) Wilkerson who know the system, but these guys have caught on fast and dedicated themselves during the summer. It's really going to pay off; it already has in some ways."

Both Watkins and Berry feel the passing game will open up even more during the next few games due, in large part, to improvement in the running game. "We're going to run the ball a lot better, I know that and that will help open up the field more for me and the other wide receivers."

"Notre Dame's (defensive) front seven was very good; probably the best I've gone against. I feel things will open up a bit more against other opponents. The running game will get better and that will definitely help."

Interestingly, Collie's final two colleges during his recruiting daze came down to BYU and Stanford. He does not feel like he has something to prove. "Not really. I'm too young to take this game differently. I'm still learning how to approach every game. I can't say that because I'm playing Stanford that I'm approaching it any different. Of course," he said, "I want to play well because it's close to home, but I'm honestly just approaching it like a normal game. I'm still learning how to do that."


* Crowton expects sophomore Eddie Keele to play, but will also use freshman R.J. Willing and junior Gary McGiven if Keele can't go.

Crowton said he plans to take true freshman offensive lineman Nick Alletto for the away game at Stanford.

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