BYU football: Nelson or Hill?




A quarterback who can’t answer the bell. An offense that can’t move. A backup who’s suddenly popular.

Sound familiar? It should. A couple of weeks ago, Utah starting QB Jordan Wynn announced his career was over. He had been average against Northern Colorado, worse against Utah State, until he was knocked out of the game. In came Jon Hays, who nearly executed a win, then did produce a win against BYU.

Now it’s BYU’s turn. It had been using the popular Riley Nelson, but he hasn’t been himself since getting hurt against Weber State in the second game of the year. On Saturday he was removed in favor of Taysom Hill, a freshman. Whether it was injuries or poor play, there’s now a quarterback controversy at BYU.

I would say that if the benching was injury related, the Cougars should throw their support behind Hill. His bad back likely won’t improve. But if his benching was heavily related to poor play, I’d give him another chance.

He didn’t win the spot from Jake Heaps by giving up.

Remember, this is the guy everyone was calling gutsy and tough when he brought the Cougars back against USU last year. He also won a bowl game for the Cougars. He was 8-1 last season, counting the win over USU. This year he beat Washington State and Weber before narrowly losing to Utah and Boise State.

If you were Bronco Mendenhall, which would you do?

[poll id=”97″][poll id=”98″]




  1. TIG53

    It’s funny how quickly roles change. Didn’t we already see this story play out last year when Riley took over for a struggling Jake Heaps? I also think it’s funny how BYU put all their eggs in one basket with Nelson. Why couldn’t they show that much faith in Heaps, and allowed him to grow into the role last year. Perhaps they would be in a much better situation this year if they hadn’t bailed on Heaps so quickly last year, I mean the kid was only a Sophomore. As it is they have another QB controversy. If I were Taysom Hill I would think long and hard about sticking around. After all he may be the savior this year like Nelson was last year, but as soon as a couple games go south for him you can bet the fans and coaches will be looking to the next guy on the list at “QBU”.

    • TIG53

      One other side note. While watching Nelson in the Utah game it seemed like he was throwing in the towel long befor the final whistle blew (three times). As a coach that wouldn’t give me much confidence in his play. And before all you Cougar fans jump down my throat yes he did bring the back in the fourth, but I think it was too little too late. IMHO.

    • Brandon

      Couldn’t have said it better myself. Look at the bright side, Nelson is a senior and there are no more red shirts or anything that can keep him her longer. Next year, he will finally be gone.

    • Gary Jacobson

      Let me guess … you’re a yewt. It’s painfully clear your anti-BYU leanings, and it won’t work here, so why do you wade into waters above your head? There are several of you posers in this thread.

  2. Andrew Streeter

    I mean no disrespect to anyone (including Riley Nelson) – but I couldn’t be more sick of hearing how ‘gutsy’ and ‘gritty’ and ‘tough’ the dude is. It has yet to translate into solid, consistent play against quality opponents- Injuries or not. I have never expected Nelson to be more than he is, but he is so reckless and sloppy in his play. Not to mention, he can’t get the ball downfield. He has INCREDIBLE, tall weapons in Hoffman, Apo and Friel…and he just isn’t getting the job done.

  3. Brave Sir Robin

    So the question is, do you go with the noodle-armed senior QB or the noodle-armed freshman QB? Decisions, decisions…

  4. provo4life

    Whether it is poor play or a bad back it doesn’t matter. Riley Nelson is horrible! I’ve been saying this for weeks now, he makes poor decision after poor decision. It doesn’t matter if he is tought, had heart, is gritty. He doesn’t possess the skill set to be a D1 college quarterback. I understand he is competitive, but if he really was a leader he would say, I’m hurt and can’t play. I’m hurting more than helping by being out there. His poor play doesn’t deserve a second chance. Jake Heaps didn’t receive that 2nd chance. When Riley Nelson came in against Utah St he completed a miracle hail mary to Jacobsen and a tip ball td to mathews and was immeadiately deemed the Savior while Heaps was run out of town. Get Nelson out of there, can Doman and demote Bronco to D Coordinator which is what he does best.

  5. Johnny Triumph

    I really feel badly for Nelson, what a great leader but what a poor QB. We all saw the problems with playing a better QB but poor leader last year with Heaps, teams respond to the leader. If Nelson can put it together even just a little bit BYU will be fine, that Defense is really something!

  6. Coach Bob

    I agree with Provo4life. Taysom can help the team succeed for the next 3 1/2 years, Broncho needs to run the D (he actually showed some emotion for a change after the goalline stand!), Doman-in-the-box has gotta be sent packing, get a head coach who can fire up the team, heavy beat down or replace the o-line if they can’t figure out the snap count– or how to actually block, and find an O-coordinator who has exciting, unique play designs to take advantage of BYU’s strengths. Optioning a mediocre, somewhat injured QB to the short-side of the field every other play will only yield more results like the last 2 pathetic games!

    BTW, search “Taysom gets rocked” on YouTube to see how tough this freshman QB is after getting put on his butt!

  7. BYU_Aggie

    I can’t understand why we’d crucify Nelson so quickly. It’s possible he’s not playing 100% right now, but even if he’s fully healthy, the guy deserves his job he earned. Heck, even Heaps had ample opportunities to play poorly before losing his spot to Nelson.

    I think Hill has a lot of potential and development, but I don’t think he gets the reigns yet. I thought Lark looked well and should deserve a shot too. Bottom line, I think Nelson should get the start, but if poor play continues, bench him for a possession, a quarter, or whatever in favor of Hill or Lark. I think you start the QB that gives the best chance of winning, and for now, I still think that’s Nelson.

    Maybe the real question here is Doman. Riley looks like Heaps last year – two very different players with different skill sets. The common thread? Doman. Maybe he was a great QB coach, but that doesn’t necessarily make him a good OC.

  8. Cougar Passion

    Why is James Lark no longer part of the conversation? There must be something going on that no one is saying publicly.

  9. Henry Drummond

    I think we’ve seen this all before. Riley was the toast of the town and now he’s driving the buss and picking up towels in the locker room. And how patient will they be with the next guy?

  10. I hate Nelson

    This is a joke. Riley is the worst QB ever to play at BYU and we have 3 back ups that if given a chance will prove Bronco is the worst coach ever at BYU. Can someone please get through to him. I agree Riley is a great kid, with lots of desire, but since when was that a qualifier to be the starter at QB-U? If Taysom isn’t the starter, he needs to look to go somewhere else. And for every high school star looking at BYU, I would reconsider your options before I would sign to play for Bronco. Go somewhere else where they play kids based on ability and talent. That clearly is not the case at BYU under Bronco.

  11. tmac5

    The only reason Bronco is still playing(and defending) Riley Nelson is blackmail. Riley must have some pictures of Bronco doing something pretty bad. I can’t think of any other reason Riley is playing—he can’t throw the ball 20yds. FIRE BRONCO

  12. Zeba

    Neither Nelson or Hill has shown to have a good arm. With all the hype surrounding Hill I was very underwhelmed with his passing against Boise. Hill is a slightly better runner than Nelson. Can Lark throw the ball?

  13. Gayle

    You can’t really say that his play led to a narrow loss to BSU since he had been out of the game for a while before the scoring drive in the fourth quarter. Prior to that he had completed passes to as many Broncos as he had cougars. I actually think that Lark should be starting. He knows the offense better than Hill and is bigger and stronger than Nelson. The danger with turning the team over to a Freshman is that they get overwhelmed and it actually stunts their development. I’m all for giving Hill playing time this year, but let him progress at a more reasonable pace.

  14. Ron

    Riley’s comfort zone is to run or be moving around. He is not really a pocket quarterback. Placing him under center makes it even more difficult.

    Hill can function from the pocket or move around if he needs to. He has the
    added avantages of being taller, fast and a good passer. Byu also needs to get Williams and Hine more involved.

    Whatever happen to the days when BYU would pass to running backs coming out of the back field and I don’t mean swing passes. What ever happen to the reverse in football.

  15. Brandon

    During the entire year last year, I was in the Heaps camp. I knew this was going to happen. Nelson supporters thought he was the greatest thing in the world when he pulled out a win against Utah State (in fluke fashion I might add). However, Nelson supporters failed to look to the future. Bronco is in that group. Did it not occur to him or all the other pro-Nelson fans out there that Heaps was just a sophmore? Heaps was pretty dang good for a sophmore if you ask me and at least he knew how to throw the ball. I’m not in the Hill camp. BYU needs to look to their future NOW! Get off the Nelson waggon. The longer they continue to play Nelson, the more they are crippling BYU’s future. They have a brutal schedule next year adn they are not doing Hill or the rest of the team any favors by playing Nelson. Besides, Hill gives them the best chance of winning. Nelson needs to go, and if Bronco won’t replace him, then Bronco needs to go too!

    • Doesn't take a crystal ball

      Exactly and of course he is injured and still trying to play because he is afraid of losing his starting job. It has always been about Riley for Riley. and give me a break I am tired about hearing that it is because of his injury. Nelson is horrible period. With or without injury. The difference is Heaps is no longer around to be the scapegoat. I’m not going to underestimate Bronco though and can’t wait to hear who the next scapegoat will be to deflect from Nelson’s ineptness.

  16. Casey

    I’m sooo glad to finally hear comments about Nelson that line up with the ‘truth’. I’ve hated having him on the field since he took over last year. A fluke win and he gets all the praise in the world. I didn’t get it. Heaps was a much better QB.

    I thought Hill did a really good job. He had some under thrown balls and a couple poor decisions. But overall, he brought us back against a VERY good Boise defense. Had Bronco kicked the extra point, I think we would have won in overtime. KEEP NELSON OFF THE FIELD!!

    One other thing, how about that D?! They were flat out impressive. All the praise in the world goes out to those guys. I was very impressed.

  17. Vic

    I could care less as long as Nelson is gone next year. It is so obvious Nelson was never a QB and has an excuse for everything. If Mendenhall wants to blow the rest of the season with his wonder boy than let them embarrass themselves.

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