MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–Taysom Hill has had a problematic go for Brigham Young University this season and things aren’t about to get any easier as the Cougars travel east to take on West Virginia University at Fed Ex Field on Saturday.
With a 1-2 record, BYU’s offense ranks 119th in the country in scoring and 105th in total offense, averaging just 17 points and 338.7 yards per game, numbers that don’t exactly set the world on fire.
In those three games, Hill’s efficiency rating is a career-low 102.89.
Fans aren’t thrilled with the starter’s performance.
While the Cougars have battled tough defenses in Arizona, Utah and UCLA, Hill isn’t quite up to par with the quarterback BYU has seen in the past.
The 6-foot-2, 236-pound senior completed 88-of-132 attempts for 975 yards as a junior in 2014. He threw three interceptions and rushed for 480 yards.
Prior to that, Hill threw for 2938 yards in 2013 as a sophomore for the Cougars but misfortune has plagued the Pocatello, ID native.
He suffered a season-ending leg fracture and ligament tear against Utah State in 2014 and missed the majority of the 2015 season with a Lisfranc injury, meaning one or more of the metatarsal bones are displaced from the tarsus in the foot.
In what could have been a breakout season for Hill, he is struggling to spark BYU’s offense under new offensive coordinator Ty Detmer’s system.
But the Cougars aren’t laying all the blame on Hill.
“It would be foolish right now to make [Hill] the scapegoat, when it wasn’t all his fault,” head coach Kalani Sitake told the media this week. “That is a wrong assessment from a lot of different people.”
For BYU it’s a matter of perfecting it routes and recognizing the oppositions’ defensive schemes.
“We have got to be better on every facet of our team, offensively,” Hill said. “We have to do better at recognizing man and zone [defenses] in the secondary and making sure the routes we are running are man routes, and making sure the ball is out on time.”
With the former Highland High School quarterback still at the reigns, the task at hand this week isn’t going to get an easier for the Cougars.
The Mountaineers defense has allowed an average of 16 points per game through two games.
And don’t think just because the Cougars have struggled putting points on the board that WVU will take them lightly.
“They are really close,” cornerbacks coach Blue Adams said. “They are a team that you have to account for. You have to really prepare for them, because they are not far off.”
The Mountaineers know Hill has the ability to become a menace once he finds his groove.
“He’s definitely a playmaker and a good athlete and quarterback,” safety Jarrod Harper said. “He can make some plays in the air and on the ground, so I am looking forward to that.”
Hill and BYU’s offense has had some bad breaks but WVU defensive coordinator Tony Gibson knows the danger Hill posses.
“He’s a good looking kid on the film,” Gibson said. “He’s big, strong and runs well. Right now, that’s the thing everyone says they aren’t scoring a lot of points, well they are having some misfortunes. Tip balls for interceptions, fumbling at the wrong time, whatever it may be, penalty here or there, so they’re not that far off. They’ve played three pretty good teams and obviously have been competitive all the way down to the end.”
Hill is a dual threat. He can get it done on the ground or in the air. The fifth-year veteran is second on the team with 117 yards rushing to go with his 628 passing yards.
BYU has put its faith in Hill for another week. Now he must find a way to get past the feisty Mountaineers’ defense.
Cover Photo Credit: Dominic Valente, Daily Herald