Nelson's experience key for this Saturday

The Cougar offense has been in flux with the rotation of quarterbacks Riley Nelson and Taysom Hill the past few weeks. With Nelson returning this week, how might the Cougars have a better chance to win against Oregon State?

The 10th ranked Beavers of Oregon State will challenge BYU on their home field this Saturday. With an Oregon State defense that basically returns everyone from last year's team, Nelson will have some familiarity with what he goes up against. It's the same defense that Nelson faced last year on the road when BYU won 38-28.

"They're very athletic and they're very disciplined," said receiver coach Ben Cahoon of Oregon State. "They understand their roles very well. I think we have a good game plan put into place. It's a complicated game plan, but if we can execute it there will be plays made out there."

More complicated than last week? Yes, according to Cahoon. The coaches are able to take advantage of Nelson's experience and implement a broader attack plan to match the experience of Oregon State's defense.

Youth tends to warrant simplicity, but with Nelson back, a vanilla offense might not help BYU's cause. The Cougars have to open up the playbook and execute it well.

"There's more learning, more adjustments and more assignments that we have for them," Cahoon said. "We are demanding and we're requiring more of them this week to learn those assignments. The early part of the week is the real telling time, and they've done a good job. There weren't many busts, if any, so they've done a good job."

Much like Utah and Utah State, the Oregon State Beavers play varying coverage schemes. They play a man-zone defense, so the quarterback will be forced to read the safeties more.

"They're about 60-40 zone to man coverage," said Cahoon. "They play a lot of cover-four, and then they like to man you up and press you a little bit. So, they have some balance there and you have to be able to read the defensive scheme and know how to attack it. They have different things they do and you have to get your reads and know how to attack each formation. They're pretty balanced and disciplined and do a good job, so we're going to have to be very precise in our assignments and sharp in our routes."

Here's where Nelson's experience is important.

"More than anything it's about timing," said Cahoon. "Riley is a little quicker in his reads and decision making, so even though he may not throw the ball as hard, it's coming out a little sooner, whereas Taysom is slower in his timing. Sometimes he can make up for it with his arm strength and the ball gets there, but the important part is making the reads and then making the throw on time. I think we're excited that we have a quarterback that's experienced and knows this offense and has a mastery of it. We just need to get open and catch the rock."

According to Cahoon, Nelson's lesser arm strength is not an issue.

"Taysom has a stronger arm than Riley, but it's a non-issue really," said Cahoon. "Riley throws a very catchable ball and both of them throw a ball that's a lot more catchable than Jake [Heaps], who had so much zip, it was on top of you before you could react to it. If you can't react to the speed of the ball, that creates a chemistry issue if it isn't tempered. There's certain advantages and disadvantages, but it's all based on the distance, the delivery and the ability of the quarterback to make those adjustments."

With the return of Nelson, Cahoon hopes the Cougar offense can take a positive step forward.

"I think they're excited and I think there is a sense of urgency, and I think there is a sense of high expectations," said Cahoon about this week's game plan. "We're ready to have our coming out party and hopefully we can do that this week against Oregon State."

Also, with Nelson's experience, Coach Cahoon feels there will be more chemistry between the quarterback and receivers.

"We've yet to fulfill anywhere close to our potential, and you know, it hurts when the starting quarterback is not healthy," Cahoon said. "When you don't have chemistry and rhythm with your quarterback, you have to make adjustments. So, we're glad to have Riley back and hoping that experienced quarterback shows up."


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