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Oh, Oh! Taysom Hill Can Pass

30 August 2014 Brett Richins
Taysom Hill accounted for 405 yards of offense in BYU's 35-10 wini at UConn. (BYU photo)

Taysom Hill accounted for 405 yards of offense in BYU’s 35-10 win at UConn. (BYU photo)

Quarterback Taysom Hill sent a message to every team on BYU’s schedule Friday night.

He can throw the football.

Hill completed 78 percent (28-of-36) of his passes for 308 yards, three touchdowns and no picks as the Cougars dominated the UConn Huskies 35-10 in their season opener.

The junior QB also reminded everyone that he’s still as dangerous as ever on the ground, rushing for 97 yards and two touchdowns.

His five scores were a personal best.

After completing just 53 percent of his throws last season, Taysom dedicated himself to improving as a passer this spring and summer.

All that hard work appears to have paid off. Take away two intentional throwaways, and he missed on just six passes the entire night. That would equate to an 82-percent completion rate.

His pass efficiency rating of 177.1 was the best of his career and was even reminiscent of the great BYU quarterbacks of the past. If his performance in the passing game on Friday night is any indication, Hill is going to give defensive coordinators a heck of a lot more to worry about.

His improvement through the air was also a factor in BYU’s improved success in the red zone. After being one of the worst teams in the country in that category last season, the Cougars scored touchdowns in two of their three chances inside the Huskies 20-yard line.

Hill also connected on two scoring passes after BYU penetrated UConn’s 35-yard line, and then rushed for a 26-yard touchdown to close out the game in the fourth quarter.

With the loss of his security blanket Cody Hoffman, Hill spread the ball around effectively, completing passes to nine different receivers. Not surprisingly, Mitch Mathews led all BYU pass catchers with five receptions for 62 yards and a touchdown.

Terenn Houk, who made just two catches all of last season, had four receptions for 58 yards, including a beautifully executed 35-yard catch and run for a score, in which he was able to walk the tight rope along the sideline on his way into the end zone.

“It’s great to start with a win,” head coach Bronco Mendenhall said following the game. “Taysom did a great job managing the game. We have an excellent offensive system and a very good quarterback.”

Hill was pleased with the performance but tempered his enthusiasm just a bit. “We weren’t as clean as we wanted to be, but we did a lot of really good things that we can build off of,” said Hill.

Despite the impressive victory, the offense still has plenty of work to do when it comes to eliminating penalties and converting third downs. The Cougars were flagged for a whopping 15 penalties for 150 yards in their first game of the year, the most in the 10-year Mendenhall era.

Several of those penalties negatively impacted BYU’s third-down conversion rate, a point of emphasis for the program this season. The Cougars converted just 38.5 percent (5 of 13) of their third-down opportunities against the Huskies, which was only slightly better than last year’s 37.7 conversion percentage.

Those issues will have to be successfully addressed as BYU now prepares for a Texas team next Saturday that will be bent on exacting revenge following the spanking the Longhorns suffered in Provo last season.

Hill went off for 259 rushing yards against the Horns, but his performance on Friday sends the message to the new Texas coaching staff that they won’t be able to just load up against Taysom and BYU on the ground.

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