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Age of prosperity: Historically, BYU’s senior QBs have had successful seasons

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PROVO — If there is one factor that determines success for BYU football over the past 30 years, it's this: When the Cougars have a senior quarterback at the helm, they win. And win big.

Since 1976, when BYU has a senior QB, it wins a little more than 80 percent (95-21-2) of its games.

When told that statistic recently, senior John Beck smiled.

"Sweet," he said. "Sounds good."

The last three times BYU had a senior under center, the Cougars posted records of 12-2 (2001), 8-4 (1999) and 14-1 (1996). In all three of those seasons, they claimed conference championships and found themselves in the national rankings.

One of those quarterbacks was Brandon Doman, who is now the Cougars' quarterbacks coach. He remembers well what he was feeling the summer heading into his final year.

"It was an opportunity of a lifetime for me because I wanted to be the quarterback here so bad for so long," said Doman, who led the Cougars to that 12-win campaign five years ago. "I had played a couple of games my junior year, and this was my last chance and my only chance, to be the quarterback. I took advantage of every opportunity to make the most of it. I knew that if I played well, the team would play well, too. I put a lot of pressure on myself to play well and get better."

What is it about senior quarterbacks at BYU?

"For one, no one is older than you anymore," Doman said. "As a young guy, you come to practice and you come to all of the meetings and you always think you're better, yet psychologically, it's the 'big brother' syndrome. I've got three brothers, and it was so hard to beat them in a one-on-one basketball game, even though I was taller or faster. Now you become the older brother and you've been around the block. You have a lot more confidence."

Does that mean big-time success is in store for Beck this season?

"The one thing Beck has is so much experience," Doman said. "You've been with your teammates for a long time and it's do-or-die. You're a lot more comfortable and confident."

Beck says he's ready to follow in the footsteps of those who have preceded him.

"When I think of all the senior quarterbacks I can think of, they all had great years," Beck said. "That's what I'm expected to do. I'm expected to come out and put my three years of experience toward this year and have the greatest season I can. I drive by the stadium a couple of times a day. Boy, when I drive by it, it's a reminder that I only have six games left in that stadium. I only have 13 games left with that jersey and in that helmet. To think this is it, it hits you a little bit different. There's something different when it's your senior year."

Coach Bronco Mendenhall knows why senior quarterbacks have had so much success at BYU.

"Experience and continuity leads to confidence and a team rallying around someone who makes plays in critical times that have seen them before," he said. "Let's face it, you don't make plays in critical times every time. But the more of those that you're in, which John has been in a lot, the more experience you gain and the more your game improves. I think it's reflective of that. He's much more poised and confident. He's a lot more natural leading the football team."

Quarterback Year Starts Att. Comp. Yds. TDs Record Conf.

Carter 1966 10 293 141 2,182 21 8-2 2nd (tie)

Sheide 1974 11 300 181 2,174 23 7-4-1 1st

*Nielsen 1977 4 156 98 1,167 16 3-1 (9-2) 1st (tie)

Wilson 1979 12 427 250 3,720 29 11-1 1st

**McMahon 1981 11 423 272 3,555 30 10-1 (11-2) 1st

Young 1983 12 429 306 4,346 33 11-1 1st

Bosco 1985 14 511 338 4,273 30 11-3 1st

Lindsley 1986 11 287 180 2,247 12 7-4 (8-5) 2nd

Detmer 1991 13 403 249 4,031 35 8-3-2 1st

***Walsh 1994 13 463 284 3,712 29 10-3 2nd

Sarkisian 1996 15 404 278 4,027 33 14-1 1st

Feterik 1999 12 452 277 3,554 25 8-4 1st (tie)

Doman 2001 14 408 261 3,542 33 12-2 1st

*Started four games before suffering season-ending injury.

**Missed two starts due to injury.

***Junior stats; skipped senior season for NFL draft.

Note: Record indicates only games started. Final team record in parenthesis.

E-mail: jeffc@desnews.com