Jake Heaps was afforded the greatest privilege in Brigham Young Cougars football in 2010. He was the starting quarterback. In 2011, he will attempt to join the hallowed BYU Quarterback Club. Heaps has found favor with coaches, teammates, and fans. He is surrounded by a group of players with plenty of talent and potential.
As a freshman, Heaps set new standards for BYU freshmen quarterbacks in almost every statistical category. He won a bowl game and was named the game’s MVP. Joining the club appears to be there for the taking.
While the conditions are favorable for young Jake, he has to earn membership in the club on the field. Membership requirements can be broken down into three categories: Individual Statistics, Team Results, and His Gimmick.
Heaps needs to put up stats comparable to his predecessors. That means he will need a minimum of 3,000 yards passing this year and every year after. His case will be stronger if he goes over 3,500. After all, every quarterback since Marc Wilson who has joined the club has eclipsed 3,500 at least once.
Heaps needs to throw at least 25 touchdown passes this year and over 30 in 2012. After throwing 15 touchdowns as a freshman, reaching 25 should be a breeze. The real goal this year should be 30. Regardless of how many touchdown passes Heaps throws, his touchdown to interception ratio should be 2:1 at worst. A 3:1 ratio is considered ideal, but it has eluded many of the best BYU quarterbacks. However, they have attained a 2:1 ratio or better 17 times since 1980.
One final season stat to monitor is completion percentage. Heaps needs to complete greater than 60% of his passes. That standard may sound low after Max Hall and John Beck completed 65% or better four times from 2005-2009. Beck and Hall did that with former offensive coordinator Robert Anae’s offense, which emphasized shorter, high-percentage throws. New offensive coordinator Brandon Doman has said repeatedly that the offense will throw down field like BYU did in the 1980s and 90s. In those decades, the good quarterbacks completed 60-65% of their passes. Anything over 65% was an exceptional season.
Statistics alone won’t get Heaps into the BYU Quarterback Club. His great play needs to be contagious and make those around him play better. If this happens, it will be reflected in the team’s won-loss record. The great BYU QBs have been able to lead their teams to 10 win seasons and to a national ranking. Heaps needs to lead BYU to achieve both 10 wins and a national ranking before he can be guaranteed a place in the QB club. Waiving this requirement can only be done under very exceptional circumstances. With Bronco Mendenhall leading a very talented and deep defense, even on a bad day, the offense should be able to score enough points to win nearly every game.
Although he has not been elected team captain this year, Heaps still needs to be a leader who creates synergy. He needs to be working hard and giving the right example to earn the admiration and respect of the other players. Former BYU tight end Chad Lewis recently said Heaps is a “gym rat,” so it sounds like Heaps is on the right track. Otherwise, the team won’t rally around him late in a game, when it counts, and any attempted heroics will come up short.
All the great BYU quarterbacks possess at least one. Gary Sheide started the whole thing. Gifford Nielsen threw for over 3,000 yards and was named All-American. … John Beck took BYU back to the top. Max Hall beat #3 Oklahoma.
Gimmicks come in all shapes and sizes. Heaps can fulfill this requirement in several different ways. Taking BYU to a BCS bowl, picking up a signature win, helping BYU enter independent status with a huge splash, finishing the season ranked in the top 10, or, simply, beating Utah by more than two touchdowns would all give Heaps a gimmick for fans to remember him as a unique contributor to BYU football.
Then again, Heaps may already have his gimmick. He is the only true freshman to come in and play from day one. He didn’t just break, he shattered, almost every school passing mark for a freshman.
Class of 2011
What will it take for Heaps to be a class of 2011 BYU Quarterback Club inductee? First, he needs to meet the higher statistical standards for passing yards (3,500) and touchdowns (30) and meet the basic requirements for completion percentage (60%) and touchdown to interception ratio (2:1). Second, BYU needs to win at least 10 games in the regular season and finish the year ranked in the top 25. Third, somewhere in those 10 wins Heaps needs to have a great game or game moment that will be remembered and talked about for years to come.
With the 2011 football season fast approaching, Heaps’ quest for induction into the BYU quarterback club will be one storyline worth following.
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