By David Rasmussen
For weeks headlines have bashed John Beck for his inability to post wins, despite the glossy stats.
For just a few minutes I”m going to go against the popular media and defend BYU”s beleaguered quarterback.
Beck is currently fifth on BYU”s all-time passing yardage list with 8,101 yards and will likely move up to second before the season is over, trailing only Ty Detmer”s 15,031. Yet, three weeks into his senior season, he holds just a 13-16 record as a starter.
Frustrations reached a boiling point this week after BYU dropped another close game, 30-23 to Boston College in double overtime. Beck had another strong outing with 438 yards and a touchdown, but the Cougars were again unable to pull out the win in a close game. Newspaper and radio analysts alike have since criticized Beck for his lack of leadership and inability to will the Cougars to a win.
Give the man a break. Football is the ultimate team game. One man cannot win or lose the game on his own. The quarterback position is one of the most demanding in sports, but it does not directly affect the play of the defense or special teams. And you can also throw in the fact that Beck has had two head coaches and three different offensive coordinators.
Critics talk about the likes of Jim McMahon, Steve Young, Robbie Bosco, Ty Detmer and Brandon Doman and the way they led their teams to wins in the big games. What they fail to remember, however, is they didn”t do it alone. Each of those teams was stocked with All-American talent at various positions (e.g. Clay Brown, Gordon Hudson, David Mills, Mark Bellini, Chris Smith). Take Brandon Doman, for example. In 2001, his Cougars opened up with 12 straight wins, including last-minute victories over Utah, Mississippi State, UNLV and New Mexico. In BYU”s last two games, however, Doman was without the services of Doak Walker Award winner and consensus All-American running back Luke Staley. The Cougars lost those two games by a combined total of 43 points.
And let”s take another look at the Boston College game. John Beck did not miss three field goals. Nor did he fumble the snap on a fourth field-goal attempt. Beck didn”t allow a touchdown on the first play of the second overtime. And on the interception that ended the game, Beck”s pass was tipped at the line. As Bronco Mendenhall has stressed each week, it is impossible to assign blame for a loss to one player or one phase of the game. If just one of those field goals had been converted, BYU would be 2-1 and the media would be singing Beck”s praise rather than his death knell.
Here”s a glimpse at some of Beck”s other “disappointments” that could have easily gone the other way.
Sept. 2, 2006- Arizona 16, BYU 13- Beck goes 28-37 for 289 yards and a touchdown, but a fumbled snap on a late field-goal attempt comes back to haunt the Cougars.
Sept. 24, 2005- TCU 51, BYU 50- Another fumbled snap, this time on an extra point attempt in overtime, offsets Beck”s conference record 517 yards and five touchdowns.
Sept. 24, 2004- Boise State 28, BYU 27-> The No. 21 Broncos escape when BYU All-American Matt Payne misses a 37-yard field-goal attempt with 23 seconds remaining. Beck”s numbers: 20-35, 390 yards, two touchdowns.
Dec. 22, 2005- California 35, BYU 28- Trailing 35-14, the Cougars mount a comeback before the game effectively ends when Beck is hit as he throws and the ball is intercepted. Beck sets Las Vegas Bowl records with 352 yards on 35-53 passing.
I concede the point that BYU has not pulled out the close games in the past five years, but the blame should be taken by the team as a whole, not thrown on one player”s shoulders. Even if that player is the current product of BYU”s quarterback factory.