Riley Nelson stars in 'Wanton Recklessness'

Brian Losness-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

Arm strength or back health are hardly Riley Nelson's biggest problems as a quarterback. It's responsibility with the football.

Not every turnover is the quarterback's fault. Sometimes a receiver totally botches an easy reception and it results in an interception. Sometimes the center is not snapping the ball well.

Riley Nelson has been the victim of this at times. But in many others, the gritty lefty has shown an almost wanton disregard for ball security. The man thinks he can save any play, regardless of how broken. Sometimes he gets lucky and the play works -- which only seems to embolden him to continue to be reckless.

The numbers in this regard are quite terrible. In 11 career starts, here are his numbers:

OPP

INTs

FUMBLES

FUM LOST

SJSU

2

1

1

OSU

1

1

0

ISU

0

1

0

TCU

2

1

1

HAW

0

0

0

TULSA

2

0

0

WSU

0

0

0

WSU

1

0

0

UTAH

1

3*

1

BOISE

3

1

1

OSU

3

2

0

TOTALS

15

10

4

*Utah fumbles amount does not even include two "tuck rule" plays where Nelson lost the ball but it was ruled an incomplete pass.

Over 11 starts, Nelson has thrown 15 interceptions and put the ball on the turf a total of 10 times, not including the two Utah tuck rule plays.

Yikes.

For a quarterback who gets by on grit, determination, and flowing hair, you'd think his number-one priority would be ball security. Nope. You saw his recklessness twice against Oregon State: once, on a seven-second rollout, instead of throwing the ball out of bounds when he ran out of room, he threw a jump ball directly to Oregon State defenders. He also tried to complete an option pitch to Jamaal Williams with a defender draped around him. Luckily Williams was able to recover.

I'm willing to concede that for some turnovers, blame can be given elsewhere. Like both times Nelson has been pick-sixed by Jordan Poyer, for instance. In Corvallis, Nelson was asked to throw an out across the hashes to the sideline -- way too long of a throw for him to make. In Provo, he again threw a long sideline screen pass, underthrew it terribly, and it careened off Ross Apo's hands and pads as he dove for it.

In both those cases, the blame rests on Brandon Doman. He should not ask Nelson to make throws his is incapable of making.

But in many, many other instances, Nelson's turnovers have been a function of his inability to learn when to give up on a play and live for another down.

This, more than any of his other possible shortcomings, is where Riley Nelson goes from gritty game winner to circus-like game botcher.

I cannot figure out how any quarterback is allowed to continue playing so recklessly. Poor health is not the only thing that should keep a QB off the field.

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