TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Brigham Young coach Bronco Mendenhall isn't sure which Cougar quarterback he'll play the most today, leaving Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher in a bind when it comes to preparing his defense.
Mendenhall says he'll open with the more experienced Riley Nelson, a better runner, but then he's also excited about acclaimed freshman, Jake Heaps, a highly regarded passer who Fisher tried to recruit.
"You've got to be careful that when you prepare for two, you say 'OK, he does this, he does this, and he does this,' and if they ever cross you up at all, you've still got to be sound on all facets of your game," Fisher said.
Fisher's club was anything but sound a week ago, confounded by a no-huddle offense in a 47-17 bashing at Oklahoma against a passing quarterback who wasn't a threat to run. BYU, meanwhile, didn't fare much better at Air Force where the Cougars were run over 35-14.
The losses dropped both schools from the Top 25.
BYU visits Florida State for the first time, eager to avenge an embarrassing 54-28 loss at home last year to the Seminoles, who have won the three previous games in the series that include two games played at neutral sites.
"Hopefully we'll play well enough to win," Mendenhall said.
Nelson, a junior, has run for 140 yards in the first two games and passed for another 204 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He's assured only the first snap but played most of the game in last week's loss to Air Force.
"We've never guaranteed that whoever gets the first snap will end up playing the most," said Mendenhall.
He could be tempted to go with the younger, but more passing-savvy, Heaps after seeing what Oklahoma's Landry Jones did to the Seminoles last week.
Fisher doesn't have the same problem, despite a capable backup in sophomore EJ Manuel.
Although Florida State's brief "CP7 Heisman" promotion for Christian Ponder has quieted after a poor showing at Oklahoma, the senior quarterback is Fisher's main man, period.
"He went back to fundamentals and back to basics," Fisher said. "How we play around him is going to be very important, too. He had a good week."
Ponder badly needs a young receiver to step up to give him a downfield target. His two most reliable targets, juniors Bert Reed and Taiwan Easterling, are possession receivers.
"It's going to open up the passing game even more, being able to spread the ball around," Easterling said. "Even the running game."
While Mendenhall may be tempted to work on Florida State's young, somewhat beleaguered secondary, Fisher could be just as anxious to run the ball after seeing the Cougars give up more than 400 yards rushing last week to Air Force's option attack.
The game gives Florida State (1-1) a chance to earn the Atlantic Coast Conference some respect in a season when the league has been overmatched against most nonconference opponents.
"Once you get jabbed in the mouth a little bit, you've got to come back with some feistiness," Fisher said. "I expect us to do that."
It also gives Fisher the chance to have his first win over a major college team. Florida State defeated lower-division Samford 59-6 on Sept. 4.
"It's an important game," Fisher acknowledged. "We still have to establish how to win consistently."