Heaps Ready For the Mantle

Following the announcement that Riley Nelson will have season-ending shoulder surgery, freshman quarterback Jake Heaps was named BYU's starting quarterback going into the Nevada game this weekend.

The Cougars will look to break a two-game losing streak this Saturday when they take on the Nevada Wolf Pack at home, and will do it with true freshman quarterback Jake Heaps.

"You know, it's a great opportunity and it's really unfortunate what's going on," Heaps said about being named the starter due to Nelson's injury. "But it's a time where I have to step up and help this team as best as I can, and that's what I'm going to try and do. I couldn't ask to be around a better group of guys."

Freshman tight end Richard Wilson expressed confidence in Heaps.

"I think Jake has all the techniques to make this offense run great from what we've been able to run in the past," said Wilson. "Losing a guy like Riley is hard. You know, he's a hard worker and was able to make plays for us, so it was hard for us losing a great player there. But I think Jake is going to be able to step up, get more reps and get more comfortable and get things going."

With Heaps being named the starting quarterback, that meant more first-string reps during Tuesday's practice. Sophomore quarterback James Lark meanwhile moved into the second-string spot.

"I feel as prepared as I can," said Lark. "I haven't gotten a whole lot of team reps but I think I've been prepared the best that I can be right now. The chemistry with my teammates obviously isn't the best for me right now, but football is a game of passion and I just want to come out and play. I've played football my whole life and where that takes me, we'll have to wait and see."

When Nelson and Heaps were sharing time, the offense would feature two different styles and the receivers would also have to adjust to different types of ball deliveries from the two quarterbacks. Now, with Heaps being the clear starter, the offense should be able to have more consistency and get into more of a rhythm.

"I don't have to always think who's in there," said Wilson. "When Riley was in there we had more option plays. Now with Jake it's more about the pass, so we can just focus on that part of our offense."

While in high school, Heaps was rated the top quarterback recruit in the country by multiple sources. He had more than 30 scholarship offers and chose BYU over Florida State, LSU, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Washington and Florida, to name a few. Now he'll be given the reins to become the next BYU quarterback.

A pro-style quarterback, Heaps fits into BYU's offensive mold.

"I think it definitely fits to my strengths and is tailored around my strengths in what this offense does really well," Heaps said. "We've got a great run game and a great offensive line and some great receivers out there. It's going to be my job to get us in the right place and facilitate the ball around."

The Cougars will face the Nevada Wolf Pack at LaVell Edwards Stadium this Saturday. It will be the first time Heaps will start for BYU, and the first time he will see all reps during a game. With Nevada having the third-ranked offense in the country, BYU's offense will have to be firing on all cylinders. This game has the potential to be a barnburner.

"I think just as the week has gone along and as the season has gone along, I think we're finding out what our identity is as an offense and as a football team," Heaps said. "We had a great practice yesterday and today and I'm excited.

"I don't think it's ever been an issue of what our offensive firepower has been or what we're not capable of. I think it's a matter of us going out there and executing, and what we're going to be able to do. If we're executing every play and doing the things that we're supposed to, we can go out there and put up 50 points up on the board every game. It's just a matter of execution and how we take it into our own hands."

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