ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 28: Riley Nelson #13 of the BYU Cougars throws during a game against the TCU Horned Frogs at Cowboys Stadium on October 28, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Sarah Glenn/Getty Images)
It was no secret that Brandon Doman had moments of struggle during his first season as an offensive coordinator in Provo. Coaching Division 1 football is difficult. This is always true, but especially so in regard to first year coaches. The circumstances of Year 1 of the Doman Regime did not help matters. Jake Heaps and Riley Nelson were as different in style and form as any two quarterbacks in America. It was difficult for Doman to find his mojo. After Heaps was forced to the bench as a result of errant play, and the offensive load fell upon Riley Nelson, Doman began to find his ryhthm. Some BYU fans, myself included, wondered if Doman knew how to call plays for a pro-style quarterback were BYU ever to use one in the future. That question still remains, but with both Bronco Mendenhall and Doman signaling that the mobile QB will be the norm not the exception moving forward, the answer to the query became less important.
Why the change? Sure, Nelson is the man on campus and the offense will only go as far as he takes them in 2012. But in a broader sense, BYU is wise to make this change on the basis of its perpetual demographics. The Cougars will rarely, if ever, have the advantage athletically when pitted against the upper-level programs in the BCS. Using the QB as a run option makes BYU more difficult to defend. The BYU coaching staff is looking for two quarterbacks to take the reins of the program in the post-Nelson era: Tanner Mangum and Taysom Hill. While Mangum is more of a pro-style guy, he has the athletic ability to make plays on the ground. And Taysom Hill? Well, since returning from his mission, the would-be back-up to Riley Nelson in 2012 has demonstrated incredible potential in both the run and pass games. With all due respect to Riley Nelson, Taysom Hill may very well be the Rich Man's Riley Nelson.
The 2012 campaign will be a great way for Coach Doman to build up his repertoire and put his offensive DNA into the program more forcefully. I am not implying that 2012 is a rebuilding year; it is anything but. However, the more comfortable Doman gets with his scheme, the more this will benefit BYU football moving forward. With Hill earning praise from teammates and coaches, and waiting in the wings for his chance at the starting spot, the offensive gameplans in 2012 will be an investment in the future of the program. The adeptness of Riley Nelson inside the Doman offense is a great bridge to the -- shall we say -- magic that is possible for Taysom Hill and Tanner Mangum in 2013 and beyond.