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Can Taysom Hill Take the Next Step?

18 August 2014 Brett Richins
BYU QB Taysom Hill looks down the field during Friday's scrimmage at LaVell Edwards Stadium. (BYU photo)

BYU QB Taysom Hill looks down the field during Friday’s scrimmage at LaVell Edwards Stadium. (BYU photo)

OK, let’s just speak the truth here.

BYU quarterback Taysom Hill was just plain bad during last Friday night’s open scrimmage at LaVell Edwards Stadium.

Officially, he completed 9 of his 18 pass attempts for 89 yards, while throwing one touchdown and an interception. But those numbers don’t really tell the story of just how anemic the offense was when the junior was under center.

The first team unit struggled mightily to execute in the passing game and failed to consistently sustain drives.

Sound familiar?

At times Hill looked like he was trying to place the ball instead of just throwing it.

He seemed to be thinking too much instead of just playing the game. As he often did last season, he also overthrew his intended receivers on multiple occasions on Friday. A couple of his passes were barely in the same zip code.

Taysom did make a beautiful throw for a touchdown to reserve wide receiver Kurt Henderson, who made an even more spectacular catch on the play against cornerback Trent Trammell, who appeared to have Henderson blanketed in the endzone.

But the fact remains that his performance against the BYU defense looked much like his games last year when matched up against similarly talented defenses, i.e. Notre Dame, Wisconsin and Washington.

Hill has put in a lot of work the past several months to improve himself as a passer. He’s worked with former BYU quarterback John Beck and passing guru Tom House. He also spent time with the Manning clan this summer at the highly-respected Manning Passing Camp where he received some tutoring from the pros.

During spring camp it appeared that his hard work was paying off. He looked improved and more confident throwing the ball, and he continued that trend into the fall and through the first open scrimmage of camp. However, he certainly took a big step back during the team’s second scrimmage on Friday.

Hill and the Cougars head into the 2014 season with a legit shot at returning to its days of double digit wins. However, much of that depends on if Taysom can make defenses respect his ability to consistently make plays with his arm. Although not as tough as last year, this season’s schedule still includes road game at Texas, UCF and Boise State, all games that figure to be tough places pick up wins even if BYU’s quarterback is on his game.

After Friday’s scrimmage there was a lot of talk about how motivated the defense was after being outplayed by the offense in the first scrimmage of fall camp. But if Hill thought that his teammates on the other side of the ball were motivated to redeem themselves, just wait until he gets a load of the Longhorns in Austin after their debacle against the Cougars last year. It’s no secret that Texas has had that game circled on its calendar for some time.

Home contests against Virginia, Houston and Utah State aren’t going to necessarily be gimme games either.

“Sloppy” was the word most tossed around to describe the BYU offense following the scrimmage. But the real reason for the offensive struggles is that the starting quarterback played poorly. That can’t happen this year if the Cougars expect to make any noise on the national scene.

The program really can’t afford to turn in another mediocre season either, especially with the events currently going on in the world of college football. If BYU hopes to be able to keep up in the new arms race as an independent, its going to need a fired up fan base that can help flip the bill.

Right now though, BYU fans are a lot closer to lukewarm than fired up. And who can blame them after watching the program struggle with its offensive execution and its inability to throw the football over the past few years.

It’s quite possible that Friday’s performance by Hill was an aberration. Perhaps he’ll rebound from his poor performance and tear things up through the air this season. Let’s hope so, because what we saw on Friday won’t get the job done.

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