I dont' know about others, but my point has always been
about returning senior starters. Senior starters aren't much better than anyone else if they don't have any experience.
I will point out, however, that this point doesn't make too much difference at BYU. I'm only aware of one senior starter (at least, I think he was a senior) we have ever opened a season with, who did not have any starting experience, and that was Steve Lindsley in 1986. He did poorly and was eventually replaced.
I agree that Riley is not likely to become a Steve Young. But he isn't so different from the likes of Feterik, Doman, or Sarkisian, based on how they did their junior years. Riley could become another Covey, but history shows that this is unlikely. He could also just as easily become another Doman.