The Stat Guy: BYU and Texas’ quarterbacks have had similar careers


Sophomore quarterback Jake Heaps threw for 225 yards and a touchdown in BYU's 14-13 win over Ole Miss last week. (Photo courtesy of BYU Photo)
Sophomore quarterback Jake Heaps threw for 225 yards and a touchdown in BYU's 14-13 win over Ole Miss last week. (Photo courtesy of BYU Photo)

Brigham Young, Texas’ opponent this Saturday night, is known for the birth of the spread offense in college football courtesy of LaVell Edwards, BYU’s all-time winningest coach. The Cougars air the ball out and have done so for years. With quarterbacks such as Marc Wilson, Jim McMahon, Steve Young, John Beck and Max Hall, it is no surprise that BYU has earned a reputation as one of the top quarterback factories in the country.

Sophomore Jake Heaps is the Cougars’ latest product. Heaps was a top quarterback in the 2010 class, and he brings a lot to the table in terms of poise and throwing accuracy. The same was said of the Longhorns’ Garrett Gilbert in 2009. So just what kind of quarterback battle will be in store for this weekend? Let’s take a look at the stats.

To start, both Gilbert and Heaps led their high schools to multiple state championships. Heaps, who hails from Washington, passed for 9,196 yards and 114 touchdowns from 2007-09 while at Skyline High School. Gilbert holds the Texas high school record for passing yards with 12,540, which he set in three years as a starter at nearby Lake Travis High School from 2006-08.

Both quarterbacks were Parade All-Americans. Heaps came out of a pro-style offense in high school, whereas Gilbert was accustomed to the spread. And yet, both quarterbacks were sent into opposite situations than they became accustomed to in high school: BYU runs the power spread, whereas Texas ran (or tried to) a more pro-style rushing attack in 2010.

Heaps was thrown into the fire early last season as a true freshman, replacing an injured Riley Nelson against Florida State in 2010. The Cougars lost the game 34-10 but gained confidence in Heaps, who posted admirable stats (15-31, 114 yards, one touchdown). Not eye-popping numbers, but in the not-so-welcoming environment Doak Campbell Stadium is, they’ll do. Gilbert put up similar numbers in his first official collegiate start at Rice (14-23, 172 yards), and everyone knows the hostility Reliant Stadium brings on a fall Saturday.

Heaps went on to start the rest of the season for the Cougars, who finished strong at a 7-6 record, defeating UTEP in the New Mexico Bowl, 52-24. Heaps compiled 2,316 yards passing and broke the all-time freshman touchdown record at BYU (Ty Detmer, 11) with 15 scores. Heaps posted a 57.2 completion percentage, finishing the season with a 116.2 passer rating. Gilbert, on the other hand, finished 2010 with 2,744 yards passing, a 59 percent completion. Better yardage but not a better win-loss record.

Heaps entered the 2011 season with assurance he’d be the starting quarterback, whereas Gilbert had to fight for his position. This past weekend, BYU traveled to Ole Miss to take on the Rebels in a daring preseason matchup. Heaps completed 24 of 38 passes for 225 yards and one touchdown as the Cougars came from behind to a 14-13 victory. Not to be outdone, Gilbert passed for 239 yards and a touchdown against the Owls on Saturday. The two quarterbacks have almost mirrored each other statistically over the past season, even coming down to physical stature (Heaps 6 feet 2 inches, 210 lbs.; Gilbert 6 feet 4 inches, 215 lbs.).

This Saturday, the two quarterbacks will clash. Don’t be surprised if Heaps exposes Texas’ young cornerbacks early because unlike Rice, BYU will throw the ball downfield often. However, if the two quarterbacks maintain their likeness, expect similar statistics from Gilbert.

Printed on September 8, 2011 as: Quarterbacks share similar statistics, stories