It’s Time for BYU’s Hill to Take the Field
Now that BYU is all but slated for the Poinsettia Bowl, it’s time for the Cougars to begin getting their young gun quarterback up to speed.
Rather than Taysom Hill spending the rest of the season as the “wildcat” quarterback and watching other players get practice snaps in the regular BYU offense, it’s time to get the former Idaho Player of the Year prepared to take his place as the quarterback of the future.
In fact, he might just be the best option at quarterback for the here and now as well.
This is not to suggest the true freshman should start at Boise State on a short week of practice, but it would be a crime if he doesn’t get a lot more action Thursday, and over the next few weeks, so that when BYU goes on the road at places like South Bend and Atlanta, it has a quarterback with some experience under his belt who can threaten opposing defenses with his arm.
It’s also imperative that he get quality experience this season, even starting experience, in preparation for the Cougars’ grueling 2013 schedule. BYU faces Texas, Boise State, Georgia Tech, Utah, Wisconsin and Notre Dame in a year after the Cougars lose five of their top defensive linemen to graduation, along with their two starting inside linebackers. There’s also no guarantee that Kyle Van Noy will stick around for his senior season, either.
With that schedule and all that experience being lost on defense, the last thing BYU will need is a quarterback at the helm with no meaningful game experience. Things could get ugly in a hurry if the Cougars struggle at quarterback. The good news for BYU is that most of the offense should return intact in 2013, since tackle Braden Brown, guard Braden Hansen, running back David Foote and quarterbacks Riley Nelson and James Lark are the only seniors on the current two-deep this year.
With weapons like Cody Hoffman, Ross Apo and fellow true frosh Jamaal Williams next year, Hill and company will have the opportunity to be force on offense–but only if Hill has some solid game experience to rely on when he steps on the field against Texas next September 7th.
It has become apparent that BYU could really use Hill’s talents this season as well. The former Stanford signee has more ability than any four quarterbacks BYU currently has on its roster. He is widely regarded as the best athlete on the team, and unlike Nelson, has a big-time arm. He’s a lot faster than Riley Nelson too; in fact, some claim he is the fastest guy on the team.
Nelson’s limitations as a quarterback were on full display in Saturday’s 24-21 loss at Utah. His lack of arm strength resulted in BYU never once challenging the depleted Utah secondary deep, even though his two 6-foot-4 wide receivers had significant size advantages on the outside. If an offense has no ability to stretch a defense vertically, then life becomes much easier for defenders.
That’s a big reason why Nelson completed just 49 percent of his passes against the Utes, who were able play things safe and shift defenders a bit closer to the line of scrimmage. It’s also a big reason why he averaged just 5.9 yards per pass attempt, way down from the 8.4-yard average he had after games against the defenses of Weber State and Washington State.
Hill may not know the entire playbook at this point in his career, but he can certainly force defenses to play honest and respect BYU’s ability to get the ball deep to Hoffman and Apo. That threat alone would open up many options for Brandon Doman’s offense, including making runs by the quarterback a lot more effective. Nelson has averaged just 2.4 yards per carry in the first three games of the season, due in large part because he is unable to really threaten defenses with his arm.
Hill doesn’t need to digest the all of Doman’s playbook to see additional time on the field either. He can be spoon fed the offense and given an number of plays he can run in-game each week, building his comfort and confidence with the offense over the span of the next few weeks. It would be a huge mistake for Doman to relegate Taysom to wildcat plays this season and not expand his role in the offense. BYU knows what it has in Riley Nelson, it’s now time for Hill to get on the field and see what he can do.
LaVell Edwards tells the story of a conversation he had with his offensive coordinator Norm Chow one day in 1987, shortly after the arrival of Ty Detmer on campus. Chow walked in to LaVell’s office and exclaimed, “We’re back in the quarterback business.” Even though we’ve had just a few glimpses of Hill this season, it’s hard not to think the same thing about this kid from Pocatello.