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Provo • Quarterback Jake Heaps and the BYU offense failed miserably against TCU last season, registering just 147 yards, including just 14 in the first half, in a 31-3 loss at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas.
If all goes reasonably well on Friday against the Frogs at Dallas Cowboys Stadium, Heaps won't get the chance for redemption, BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said Monday. Mendenhall said junior Riley Nelson will get the start and play the entire game unless he fails to move the ball.
"I see the game going, and the rotation going, as it has been going. I like the direction of our team offensively," Mendenhall said. "Again, if the team were to struggle, and if we weren't able to move the ball and score points, Jake would come in and perform. But I like the chance for the quarterbacks to get into rhythm and to play, and until proven otherwise, we will go down the same road we have been traveling, with Riley."
Remarkably, the Cougars have not had a single three-and-out since Nelson took over for Heaps more than three games ago, the third quarter of BYU's 27-24 win over Utah State. The team has punted just twice after possessions started by Nelson.
"It is critical," Mendenhall said of Nelson's ability to convert on third down. "The defense doesn't have to play as much. And against a team like TCU that scores so many points, and a team like TCU that we have not even averaged a touchdown [against] per year for three years in a row, you need to hold on to the ball and score points. So hopefully that trend continues of no three-and-outs, holding on to the ball, and scoring points."
Honors piling up
Both Nelson and linebacker Kyle Van Noy were named FBS Independent Player of the Week on Monday. Nelson was honored as the most outstanding offensive player, and Van Noy received accolades for the most outstanding defensive player. It was the third weekly honor for each player.
The Cougars are 5-2 in neutral-site games under Mendenhall. … The Cougars have totaled more than 200 rushing yards and 200 passing yards in each of their past four games. … The Cougars have won five straight games. They haven't won six or more in a row since 2007-08.
BYU vs. TCU
P At Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, Friday, 6 p.m. MDT
TV • ESPN