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BYU football: Riley Nelson sparks Cougars to comeback victory in Armed Forces Bowl

Nelson comes through in crunch time

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  • Hatch Sandy, UT
    Dec. 31, 2011 2:45 a.m.

    Nice quality win Cougars.

    Typical Riley. Ugly but effective.

    We will need the momentum going into next year's road games against Notre Dame, Boise State, Georgia Tech and the final rivalry game with Utah. Have fun with the Rumble in the Rockies Utes.

  • ER in AF Belgrade, Serbia
    Dec. 31, 2011 5:37 a.m.

    Great play by the team and a great play at the end. Seniors really played well and Reynolds showed his grit and determination even without his helmet!

  • TruBlue Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 31, 2011 5:39 a.m.

    Proud of my Cougars! 4 10-win seasons in 5 years is an amazing accomplishment. Can't wait for next year!

  • Honor Code Denver, Colorado
    Dec. 31, 2011 5:51 a.m.

    Had BYU not won this game, Deseret News would not even have this on the front page (see St. Mary's beating BYU Men's Basketball, never heard a peep)!!

  • Allen#2 WEST VALLEY CITY, UT
    Dec. 31, 2011 6:16 a.m.

    Great story which vividly illustrates why Riley moved ahead of Jake as the Cougar quarterback.

    As a graduate of Utah State, I was not pleased when Riley defected to BYU during or after his mission, but congratulate Riley and the BYU Cougars for a very impressive ending to a hard fought football game.

  • loveless center valley, pa
    Dec. 31, 2011 6:57 a.m.

    She may have looked ugly at the beginning of the date. But at the end, she looked pretty dang good!!

    Good job Cougs, way to fight for a win!

  • windsor City, Ut
    Dec. 31, 2011 7:19 a.m.

    Having lived in Tulsa, where there is not a lot of love for Mormons, you know what I'm hearing about how the Cougars managed a win?

    BYU couldn't win the game on their talent and football abilities--

    --so, going against their own Honor Code pledge of being honest--

    --they resorted to trickery and deception of faking a spike to pretend to stop the clock.

  • JonnyDanger HOUSTON, TX
    Dec. 31, 2011 7:27 a.m.

    I remember Max Hall running the same fake-spike against air force a few years ago at the end of the first half. It really was a great, gutsy call... Even if it's incomplete you still have 10-12 seconds to get off two more plays. Of course it wouldn't have been so low risk high reward if that had been his third interception rather than his third td...

    I think that was the only time all night that Riley had the defense on their heels, but to his credit e took advantage of it and made it count when he had to. Thanks for a great finish Cougars!

  • sammyg Springville, UT
    Dec. 31, 2011 7:30 a.m.

    The 'comeback' kid does it again! Thanks Riley, we knew you could rally the team to this victory.

    10-3 for the season and a good chance to be in the Top 25, not too shabby for the inaugural independent season, especially compared to the other team that went the other direction.

    Thanks Riley for providing the leadership and gutsy play that earned you the QB position this season. Who knows what would have happened had you not prepared so diligently.

    You made the difference this year and BYU remains in the national spotlight because of your and the team's efforts. I'm sure all Cougar fans appreciate this very much.

    Congratulations to you and the team. It was an enjoyable season and we look forward to a better schedule, stronger opponents and your leadership next season!

    Now off to a winning season in basketball!

    It's great to be a Cougar fan!

  • runnerguy50 Virginia Beach, Va
    Dec. 31, 2011 8:05 a.m.

    Great victory for the Cougars. I love Riley's grit, however, Ithink Tulsa really showed some of his weakness as a qb. Next years opponents will watch this film. You can't teach tough and Riley is tough.

  • TheNun Granstville, UT
    Dec. 31, 2011 8:27 a.m.

    It's great to win a game, especially a bowl game as it is the game that carries us through until the season begins again next year.

    Everyone is touting we won 10 games and three straight bowl games, which we did, but we also have to temper the excitement with the stark reality of who the wins came against. Sure we were unbeaten in the WAC, but it was the wac. And the last two bowl game wins were against teams we should beat everytime. Tulsa and UTEP are not exactly world beaters in College Football.

    The run game against Tulsa was not good, Riley, even though he directed the game winning drive, was not good. The smallish size of Tulsa's D gave our O-Line fits with their speed and completely shut down the running game and forced Nelson into some horrible throws.

    As the schedule continues to be upgraded, we must continue to upgrade the level of play as well. Not as many cupcakes on the schedule next year, so I'm hoping a consistent run game can be developed and better O-line play overall will be seen next year.

    The D looks good, the guys leaving won't be missed too much, as the expected replacements look legit. That side of the ball looks promising, but Tulsa made the offense look suspect. Seriously we scored just before half on kind of a gift from Tulsa and used trickery at the end to win. Not exactly what we can expect going forward as a formula for winning consistently.

  • CougarBlue Heber City, UT
    Dec. 31, 2011 8:36 a.m.

    I chuckle at IndianaCoug who says Cody and others saved Riley. What he and others fail to accept is that they could not save Riley if he had not thrown the ball there in the first place. What nonsense they spew. Yes, it was not his best game, but Tulsa made it tough. That is the difference between him and Heaps. Riley is a scrapper and Heaps thought you could just throw perfect passes and it would happen. This game needed a scrapper and he came through. Loved the block by Matt Reynolds, without his helmet. Gutsy play.

  • Y Grad / Y Dad Richland, WA
    Dec. 31, 2011 8:38 a.m.

    windsor | 7:19 a.m. Dec. 31, 2011

    "Having lived in Tulsa, where there is not a lot of love for Mormons, you know what I'm hearing about how the Cougars managed a win?

    BYU couldn't win the game on their talent and football abilities--so, going against their own Honor Code pledge of being honest--they resorted to trickery and deception of faking a spike to pretend to stop the clock."

    I gotta admit, I had the same thought--for about 3 seconds. But the two plays immediately prior to that, the tacklers held on the our ball carriers after the play for as long as they thought they could get away with it. The first irked me a little, but the second one sent me ballistic.

    So after about three seconds, my next thought--serves you right!

    I know, not the way I want to live my life, but I didn't let it spoil a great moment.

  • Provo4Life PROVO, UT
    Dec. 31, 2011 8:48 a.m.

    Glad we got a win against a team with a winning record, now that makes 2! Riley was not good today, plain and simple. Completed 42% of his passes, threw 2 picks and a few others that were taken away by penalties or stone hands. I hope we can temper the expectations a little for next year. We will be good, but I keep hearing what if Riley would have been in all season...? We would have had the same record, thats what would have happened. Riley rallied us because his poor play put us in that situation anyway. Great game by Hoffman, the kid is a freak. CougarBlue, Cody did save Riley. You can put the ball there, but Nelson puts it behind them, over them, low etc. Hoffman is just a vacuum and sucks up everything. Nelson just sucks it up!

  • golfrUte SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Dec. 31, 2011 8:51 a.m.

    Congrats to the Cougars on a gutsy win. BYU's defense was outstanding. Well done.

    The fake spike was a great call and well executed.

    Happy New Year.

  • Eddie Syracuse, UT
    Dec. 31, 2011 9:02 a.m.

    So what was so "dishonest" about the fake spike? Doesn't every player "fake" moves and things all the time? When a receiver runs out, does he not fake one way and go another. Doesn't a lineman fake a block and let a guy through the line on a screen play?

    Some people's minds are so screwed up that I wonder if they ever went to school. Or maybe it is that they are just so filled with hate that they can't see straight (see some of the ute troll comments on other stories).

    Nelson may have had a bad game but let's not hold that against him. Remember that we have spring practice and the coaches will be looking at everyone. They know our weakness and will be looking to fix the problem given the talent they have and the teams we will be facing.

  • abejones SCOTT DEPOT, WV
    Dec. 31, 2011 9:02 a.m.

    I have not learned much about what is really wrong with college football( a great deal!) reading these comments, but a great deal about the mind set of people who simply dislike something. For Y haters in Utah, an 0-10 record would have the same explanations as a 10-0 record. Why bother with details. I know most of them are kids, but out here in the world they come across as boring, irrational losers.

  • 61Cougar Seattle, Wa
    Dec. 31, 2011 9:26 a.m.

    "Having lived in Tulsa . . . couldn't win the game on their talent . . . against their own Honor Code . . . resorted to trickery and deception . . . ."

    Um, deception is part of game strategy. I'm sure Sunshine also faked a handoff earlier in the drive and rolled out to pass instead. Then there was that fourth down play where Sunshine dropped back like he was going to pass, but ran with the ball instead."

    Oh, and I suppose that late in that last drive, Tulsa defensive linemen could be overheard telling the referee who was trying to speed up the post-play action, "I'm trying to get up, ref, but this ball carrier won't get out from underneath me."

  • Oatmeal Woods Cross, UT
    Dec. 31, 2011 9:42 a.m.

    Sure it was ugly. But football wasn't designed to be pretty.

    And misdirection/fake hand-offs/ trick plays in a football game are now honor code violations? On who's planet? That has to be the silliest thing I've read in years!

  • 17-14 Hurts Don't It? Springville, UT
    Dec. 31, 2011 9:43 a.m.

    @Windsor

    Hmmmm. Was that a Tulsa fan's comment or yours...

    It is was it is. A game is about preparation, training, ability, talent, strategy and plain luck sometimes.

    Tulsa's coach and players failed to prepare for the unexpected.

    That one play kind of exemplifies Utah's lack of preparation for the worse team in the conference showing up to play the game of their lives, doesn't it?

  • 3grandslams Iowa City, IA
    Dec. 31, 2011 9:48 a.m.

    Way to go Cougars! Defense gets the game ball. Van Noy is awesome! To hold the Tulsa offense way below their averages was awesome. Great coaching Mendenhall.

    Big, big season next year. Independence keeps getting better and better. Nice inagural year.

  • 3grandslams Iowa City, IA
    Dec. 31, 2011 9:55 a.m.

    re:windsor--Really? That's the best Tulsa fans can come up with? Or is that the best you could come up with as a Utah fan?

  • Dukester VANCOUVER, WA
    Dec. 31, 2011 10:15 a.m.

    Great win Cougars!

    Next year I hope Bronco realized wearing a dirty looking T-shirt is not very impressive. The grunge look is not cool. Students at BYU can't dress like that and neither should coaches.

  • cougarNV Las Vegas, NV
    Dec. 31, 2011 10:22 a.m.

    @ windsor-

    So...according the supposedly "Tulsa" response, Tulsa was wrong to have thrown a backwards pass to their Receiver who then "tricked " everyone by throwing a forward pass to different receiver.

    I will give more credit to Tulsa Fans than that response being from them.

    The people I have heard from who went to the game had only complimentary things to say about the Tulsa fans.

    Y Grad/Y dad is spot on again.

    Go Cougars!

  • 61Cougar Seattle, Wa
    Dec. 31, 2011 10:30 a.m.

    @3grandslams - "Really? That's the best Tulsa fans can come up with? Or is that the best you could come up with as a Utah fan?

    The comment came from Tulsa World columnist Jimmie Tramel, and was more dejected tongue-in-cheek than serious. His opening lines read: "Honesty is among things required by BYU's Honor Code. Trickery is apparently permissible. And that was bad for Tulsa."

    His column is anything but an indictment of BYU players not living the Honor Code, but rather a lament of what could have been for Tulsa in a game which Tulsa kept close.

    In fact, he paints a very nice picture of Sunshine's gritty improvisation on that last play to audible out of the spike and throw on a Tulsa defensive player that had already caught more passes from Sunshine than anyone other than Hoffman.

  • Independent Henderson, NV
    Dec. 31, 2011 10:30 a.m.

    It never ceases to amaze me how BYU fans can have such negative attitudes about winning. It's just a football game!

  • So. Cal Reader San Diego, CA
    Dec. 31, 2011 10:35 a.m.

    Just win, baby! Big, big difference between Nelson and the starting QB he replaced-- Nelson is a winner (not a whiner) and does what needs to be done to win. He calls the fake spike play on his own- that is clutch and a QB who is very comfortable with who he is on the field. Amazing!

  • Wildcat O-town, UT
    Dec. 31, 2011 10:48 a.m.

    Riley played well when he needed, but the defense is the one that should be congratulated. Holding Tulsa to 21 is very impressive. Most people in the state of Utah just don't appreciate defense in any sports, so it never gets its credit. Congrats on the win.

  • golfrUte SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Dec. 31, 2011 10:54 a.m.

    @ 17-14

    What does this article have to do with Utah? Since you brought it up, how's that 54-10 smack down feeling?

  • Mountanman Hayden, ID
    Dec. 31, 2011 11:14 a.m.

    No more play action passes for BYU. That might deceive the opponent's defense. No more pump fakes, no more check offs, no more audibles and no more trick plays. In fact, so BYU can observe the honor code of being honest, they should telegraph every play to the defense! Sarcasm!

  • lasermann Orem, UT
    Dec. 31, 2011 11:55 a.m.

    I couldn't disagree more on the complaint regarding Bronco's t-shirt. It emphasizes that Bronco and his players are, like the shirt says, a Band of Brothers, united in a cause.

    That means a lot more than some pretty shirt with no message and no meaning. And t-shirts aren't a violation of the honor code. Three straight bowl victories, multiple 10-win seasons, great recruiting ... let the man wear what he wants!

  • LEDSFW Las Vegas, NV
    Dec. 31, 2011 12:27 p.m.

    Fawning over Riley Nelson's performance on the last drive doesn't change reality. That's the only positive thing to say about a poor performance against statistically one of the worst defenses in the NCAA, a C-USA team to boot. He made so many mistakes its hard to find the positives. To his credit, he strung enough skill and LUCK together to pull out a victory, Noted!

    Nelson is still an anomaly, good season statistics, unbelievable number of mistakes. Players around him turn awful into good fortune. The horrible plays on the last USU drive (the McKay reception and the TD should have been pics). Most of us recognized you win lucky at times. But Nelson has been bailed out time and again by something akin to blarney stone reality. He's as much to blame for the TCU loss as Riley #2. People forget!

    It was a good win for BYU. Nelson is not a real quarterback, blinders off. Weak inaccurate arm, happy feet, runs into sacks, slow at decisions, he's simply not BYU's answer next year. Hopefully BYU sees what every analyst sees, he's not even Tim Tebow. He is gritty, love him, but not a BYU QB.

  • Flashback Kearns, UT
    Dec. 31, 2011 1:02 p.m.

    Hey Windsor, so what? Who's Jake Heaps? Hoffman is the man! Riley finds a way to win no matter what. Kind of like his little brother in the state 4A game. Won in the last moments after a lackluster game by half Nelson. Almost the same stats as Riley in that game.

    Great job Cougars. Who's Jake Heaps? He for sure wouldn't have won that game.

  • LEDSFW Las Vegas, NV
    Dec. 31, 2011 2:20 p.m.

    As an analyst, I do not have the luxury of fawning over below average or luck. As I and other writers and analysts have suspected, much of the Riley Nelson bandwagon is filled with highly vocal people who either know him, his family or have followed his career because of his prior school affiliations. Scouts don't care. Scouts see a lot of negatives and one intangible positive that works for him against weaker defenses...he has guts and grit.

    Nelson's got the mental toughness you MUST find in great quarterbacks. Unfortunately, for 50-55 minutes of most games, you realize he is simply not very good at all. Look, you cannot argue with wins and success. But you cannot argue that his skill set is weak, his decision making poor, his execution 90% of the time is suspect. You can love a player for the attitude with which they play. That does not excuse his actual play x play inadequacies.

    I think his almost unabashed naive support is terrific, seeing it in Denver as well. He is not developing into big-time championship caliber player. That is reality. He's smart, will have a great other career, not in football.

  • kokua KAYSVILLE, UT
    Dec. 31, 2011 5:15 p.m.

    What football is supposed to be ugly, brutal and full of bluff's and fakes what game are you people talking about ?

    Riley played a c+ game for the first 3 quarters and was able to put together an A+ rally to win the game.

    Man folks do you all know the meaning of looking a gift horse in the mouth.

    Gratitude is a virtue and I appreciate Riley's last drive efforts that resulted in a win, a real ugly football win.

  • The Rock Federal Way, WA
    Dec. 31, 2011 8:42 p.m.

    Riley Nelson through the winning touchdown against the USU Aggies with 11 seconds left.
    Nelson hit Hoffman with the winning touchdown pass against Tulsa with 11 seconds left.

    Riley Nelson; king of the 11 second drill!

  • 61Cougar Seattle, Wa
    Dec. 31, 2011 10:24 p.m.

    "Riley Nelson; king of the 11 second drill!"

    Now if they could only coach up Sunshine to be "king" of the rest of the game as well . . . .

  • lasermann Orem, UT
    Dec. 31, 2011 10:31 p.m.

    Say what you want about Riley, but he wouldn't have lost to Utah by 44. And his courage and toughness inspires his teammates to play harder. Think Reynolds would have picked himself up off the turf, run across the field and blocked helmetless for Jake Heaps? I don't.

  • Truth Machine Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 1, 2012 1:07 a.m.

    windsor

    That's got to be one of the most pathetic posts at smack I've ever read. Come back when you actually know something about the game of football.

  • Duckhunter Highland, UT
    Jan. 1, 2012 2:49 p.m.

    Just got back from Dallas this morning and had a great time.

    @LEDSFW

    "Blah, blah, blah."

    Who cares what you think? Just win baby. That is all I ever care about. Just win the game. Nothing else matters in the least unless you are some self proclaimed poindexter trying to tell everyone why we shouldn't be happy with a winning performance. Most of us really couldn't care less if Nelson isn't a great qb. It doesn't matter if all the "analysts" LOL like you claim to be "don't have the luxury of fawing over" Nelson. He won. That is all most of us really care about.

  • Real Bass Idaho Falls, ID
    Jan. 2, 2012 3:32 a.m.

    No miracles would have been needed if Riley had not dug a hole for the y with his poor play for most of the game. I, for one, can pass on Nelson's version of Utah State South.

  • Y Grad / Y Dad Richland, WA
    Jan. 2, 2012 6:49 p.m.

    lasermann | 10:31 p.m. Dec. 31, 2011
    Orem, UT

    "Say what you want about Riley, but he wouldn't have lost to Utah by 44. And his courage and toughness inspires his teammates to play harder. Think Reynolds would have picked himself up off the turf, run across the field and blocked helmetless for Jake Heaps? I don't."

    He wouldn't have gotten the chance. The former starting QB couldn't extend a play like that.

  • Cougarista Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 2, 2012 6:59 p.m.

    I wonder if Tulsa has removed play action and any other deception plays from their playbook. But, when you are going to criticize the LDS or BYU, even a legitimate football play will do.

  • Y Grad / Y Dad Richland, WA
    Jan. 3, 2012 1:55 p.m.

    LEDSFW | 12:27 p.m. Dec. 31, 2011
    Las Vegas, NV

    So many things wrong with your post. As an analyst and a writer, Im disappointed.

    That's the only positive thing to say about a poor performance against statistically one of the worst defenses in the NCAA. And yet, two games in a row, Tulsa played some aspect of their game entirely differently than previously. The entire offense was stymied, not just the qb.

    He made so many mistakes its hard to find the positives. Actually, Andre Ware, the ESPN analyst, called it correctly on two similar plays. The overthrow to Apo, Ware pointed out that when Riley looked off the safety to give Ross more room, Ross mistakenly slowed up. When the pass came his way, he was two steps out of position for a perfectly thrown, long pass. And in case you think I am reading too much into that play, the next drive touchdown pass to Hoff, Andre noted that Riley opened up the defense with his eyes.

  • Y Grad / Y Dad Richland, WA
    Jan. 3, 2012 2:02 p.m.

    LEDSFW | 12:27 p.m. Dec. 31, 2011
    Las Vegas, NV

    Continued
    Nelson is still an anomaly, good season statistics, unbelievable number of mistakes. Players around him turn awful into good fortune. The horrible plays on the last USU drive (the McKay reception and the TD should have been pics). Again, I must disagree with you on both plays. The McKay reception was in no danger of being intercepted. Incomplete perhaps. McKay did a great job of catching the ball, but no mistake on Rileys part. And the touchdown WOULD have been a pass interference, had it not been caught. Again, no threat of an interception.

    Most of us recognized you win lucky at times. But Nelson has been bailed out time and again by something akin to blarney stone reality. And how do YOU explain this? Magic happens? Righteous living? Or perhaps you fail to give him adequate credit.

  • Y Grad / Y Dad Richland, WA
    Jan. 3, 2012 2:30 p.m.

    LEDSFW | 12:27 p.m. Dec. 31, 2011
    Las Vegas, NV

    Continued

    He's as much to blame for the TCU loss as Riley #2. People forget!

    Special teams, especially the punt team, had a hard night. Riley #1 made some serious mistakes, but also some incredible plays that kept us in the game. Without him, it would have been another Utah style massacre.

    It was a good win for BYU. Nelson is not a real quarterback, blinders off. Weak inaccurate arm, happy feet, runs into sacks, slow at decisions, he's simply not BYU's answer next year. Hopefully BYU sees what every analyst sees, he's not even Tim Tebow. He is gritty, love him, but not a BYU QB.

    If you mean every analyst sees that he is not Tim Tebow, Ill grant you that one. His arm is good, getting better, his happy feet have saved more games than theyve lost, he runs into FIRST DOWNS when we desperately need them, his decisions are sometimes faulty but they do NOT seem to be slow, and next seasons competition will determine if he is the man or not.

    Hope you see what every analyst sees.