Tag Archives: Riley Nelson

Do BYU QBs Have Favorite Receivers?

BYU has seen its share of changes at quarterback over the past 3 seasons, with 4 different QBs getting at least 1 start during that span. A question that is often raised is just how much does a change at QB affect the distribution of passes to the receivers? In other words, do different QBs have different “favorites” they like to throw the ball?

Below is a heat map showing how often receivers were targeted (i.e. were recorded as the intended receiver, regardless if the pass was actually completed) by different BYU QBs over the past 2 seasons. The heat map shows that there were definitely some receivers that benefited/suffered by the change in who was throwing the ball to them.


Conventional wisdom was that in 2011, Jake Heaps favored Apo more than Hoffman and it was vice versa when Riley Nelson took over as the starter. It turns out in this case that conventional wisdom was actually correct. Heaps threw to Apo 19.1% and Hoffman 17.8% of the time, but Nelson only looked to Apo 14.0% and Hoffman 25.9% of the time. That’s a pretty pronounced swing in receiver preference.

Something that appears to have gone largely unnoticed is that McKay Jacobson suffered even more by Nelson’s playing time, having his targeting percentage cut nearly in half, from 14.8% to 7.8%.

In 2012, the distribution of the ball was a little more consistent between QBs. The biggest differences were that JD Falslev was targeted much more frequently (7.1% increase) and Kaneakua Friel much less (6.9% decrease) by James Lark, compared to Riley Nelson.

All 3 QBs in 2012 relied equally heavily on Cody Hoffman, targeting him between 30.3% and 33.8% of the time. With most of the receivers from 2012 returning in 2013, it will be interesting to see if the ball distribution will be a little more even than it was last year.


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Week 10 stat list update


Riley Nelson‘s 56 passing yards vs. Idaho were enough to pass up Eldon ‘The Phantom’ Fortie for 27th in career passing at BYU.


Last week Nelson passed up Jake Heaps in passing for the season. This week, Heaps passed up Nelson.


It was a bad week for the Phantom. JJ DiLuigi passed him to move into 11th in career rushing yards.


One catch was enough to move McKay Jacobson into a tie with Jay Miller for 25th.

JJ DiLuigi has the same number of receptions in his career (86) as Luke Staley (and Daniel Coats, and Scott Pettis).


Jacobson moved up one spot to 17th, ahead of Jonny Harline.


Jordan Pendleton finished his career in the 111th spot for career tackles at BYU with 130.


Jake Heaps moved in to 16th place, passing Marc Lyons.


So far, the team is averaging 1.3 interceptions per game. That would be the highest average since 2006.


Heaps’ rating moved up a bit from 110.3 to 112.7, Nelson’s also increased from 147.7 to 148.6. Heaps’ career rating compares with Jason Beck and Bret Engemann. Nelson’s is similar to Robbie Bosco and John Walsh.


Nelson’s rating for 2011 (159.7) is identical to Brandon Doman‘s rating in 2001.


A good thumping of Idaho lifted BYU’s points-per-game margin from +3.6 to +6.7.


If Justin Sorensen can go three more games without missing an extra point he will have the BYU record from most PATs without a miss in a season.

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Analysis of TE Use in 2011

One of the topics of discussion during the 2010 season and subsequent offseason was the dropoff in production at TE — a position that has consistently been a very productive area for BYU over the years. In 2010, BYU TEs registered 34 receptions for a total of 451 yards. BYU QBs completed a total of 243 passes in 2010, so the 34 receptions represents 14% of all completions last year.

In 2011, the productivity has improved, but still isn’t on par with recent historical norms. In 9 games, BYU TEs have 40 receptions for 474 yards and have caught 22.5% (40 of 178) of all completions. However, a closer look shows that the TE production has dropped off since Riley Nelson took over as QB. Jake Heaps completed 25.0% (27 of 108) of his passes to TEs compared to Riley Nelson’s 18.6% (13 of 70).  Here is a breakdown by game for each QB:

Jake Heaps

Opp Rec Yds
Miss 4 44
Texas 7 88
Utah 5 64
UCF 5 49
USU 5 41
ISU 1 10
Totals 27 296

Riley Nelson

Opp Rec Yds
Utah 1 12
USU 3 27
SJSU 4 82
OSU 3 30
ISU 1 18
TCU 1 9
Totals 13 178

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Week 9 stat list update

Once again, with a young team, there isn’t a lot of movement near the top of the stat lists right now. I’ll try to avoid mentioning the overly obscure, like Michael Alisa at No. 83 in career rushing ahead of Ken Call and Kent Oborn.


For the first time this season, Riley Nelson has more passing yards that Jake Heaps.


Nelson now has more than the 100 attempts needed to show up on the season rating list. His rating for this year dropped from 174.5 to — between Brandon Doman  ’01 and Max Hall ’08.


Matt Marshall’s career passer rating took a hit. With a single incomplete pass, his rating dropped from 188.2 to 125.5.


With four games left, JJ DiLuigi needs 326 yards to bump Brian McKenzie out of the top 10 in career rushing.


Nelson passes Doman for third in QB rushing.


Nelson has the 6th most rushing yards for a QB in a season, passing Virgil Carter ’66


In his Sophomore year, Hoffman is already 54th in career receiving yards, passing Jeff Frandsen, Rod Wilkerson, Tyler Anderson, Toby Christensen and Matt Allen.


BYU’s scoring margin dropped from +5.3 to +3.6.


The team is averaging 5.7 penalties for 48.0 yards per game. The only season in the past 35 years with fewer penalties or yards is 2010.

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Week 8 stat list update

Weak opponents add up to a lot of stats.


Riley Nelson passes the 1,000 yard mark for his career

Jake Heaps moves up to 16th in career passing yards, passing up KSL color man Marc Lyons.


Heaps passes the 1,000 yard mark for the season


Nelson is less than 100 yards from OC Brandon Doman‘s third place


Nelson is 7th in QB rushing yards in a season, passing Steve Young ’81 and Jim McMahon ’78


McKay Jacobsen passes up two guys named Todd to move into 18th place in career receiving yards — Tod Thompson and Todd Watkins

Cody Hoffman became the 60th player in BYU history to record 1,000 receiving yards


Nelson’s rating improved from 144.9 to 155.2. A little better than Brandon Doman, a little worse than Jim McMahon.


The blowout win vs. Idaho State increased BYU’s ppg margin from -1.6 to +5.3


Coach Mendenhall gets his 62nd win. Only 195 from Coach Edwards!

Several players appeared on the stat lists for the first time this week:

Nelson and Joshua Quezada got their first rushing TDs of the season

Ryan Folsom rushed for the first time of the season

Dallin Cutler made the first catch of his career. Now he’s only 96 receptions away from his dad Chuck.

Daniel Sorensen scored the first touchdown of his career.

Jordan Johnson got his first interception.

Marcus Mathews, Aveni Leung-Wai, Simonte Vea recorded their first  tackle of the season.

Alani Fua, Seth Probert, Chase Pendley, DeQuan Everett each recorded his first career tackles.

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Week 7 stat list update


JJ DiLuigi moved up to 13th place in career rushing, passing up Fred Whittingham and Casey Tiumalu.

QB Rushing Season

Riley Nelson has rushed for more yards this season than any BYU QB not named Doman, Carter, Young or McMahon.

QB Rating

Nelson’s career rating: A little better than Ryan Hancock, a little worse than Gifford Nielsen.


JJ has scored 18 TDs in his career — same as Fui Vakapuna and Virgil Carter.


Justin Sorensen is 20 for 20 in his career. 18 for 18 this season.

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Week 6 stat list update

It’s a young team this year, so not many players near the top of the charts, but here are a few notes.

JJ DiLuigi’s 16 yards on Saturday were enough to move him into the top 15 in career rushing yards, moving ahead of Hema Heimuli.

McKay Jacobsen now has 105 receptions in his career at BYU, tied with Trevor Molini at #26 on the list. He passed up Bryce Doman this week.

Receiving Yards
Jacobsen is now in the top 20 in career receiving yards, passing up former BYU tight end Clay Brown and is three yards behind Todd Watkins.

Riley Nelson is #30 in career passing yards at BYU, just ahead of Blaine Fowler and Royce Bybee, just behind Drew Miller.

Passer Rating
Nelson’s career passer rating is 140.7, just below Kevin Feterik, just above Gary Sheide.

Bronco Mendenhall has 23 losses in his career at BYU, the same as Gary Crowton had — but 2.3 times more wins.

This Brandon Ogletree became the 159th BYU player with 100+ career tackles.

There are 6 players on the 2011 team with 2 career interceptions (Jordan Pendleton, Daniel Sorensen, Travis Uale, Brandon Ogletree, Jameson Frazier, Kyle Van Noy)

The 2011 team is on track to be the least penalized team on record since at least 1975.

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