You can't ask for a better environment than playing BYU versus Utah in front of that many fans. —BYU quarterback Taysom Hill
PROVO — Freshman quarterback Taysom Hill got his first taste of the BYU-Utah rivalry last Saturday in the Cougars' 24-21 setback to the Utes.
Hill gained eight yards on one carry and, later, ran an option play to freshman running back Jamaal Williams, resulting in a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
"It was so much fun. I loved the environment," Hill said of the experience. "You can't ask for a better environment than playing BYU versus Utah in front of that many fans."
Of course, Hill was disappointed with the outcome.
"It was a tough loss to swallow," he said. "We went in and battled. They were a good team. You don't like to lose to Utah."
Last week, as BYU prepared to face the Utes, coach Bronco Mendenhall pumped in crowd noise to simulate the atmosphere at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Hill was shocked how rowdy the Ute crowd was.
"It was extremely loud. It's hard to mimic a setting like that, when you look out and you see a sea of red," he said. "I was running out of the tunnel and I've never been booed that loud before in my life."
STORMING THE FIELD: What did the Cougars think about fans spilling out of the stands and onto the field — multiple times — last Saturday?
"I've been on both sides of it. It's hard to say," said quarterback Riley Nelson. "I actually get kind of panicky. On Saturday, when (the ball) hit off the upright (at the end of the game), I went straight to the locker room so I didn't get caught up in all that mess.
"But there have been times when it's been my team that's won, and you can't breathe. And it's scary. So as much as I love our fans and the passion that they bring and all of that, I'd prefer it if they'd stay in the stands. It's a lot less claustrophobic for me."
Linebacker Spencer Hadley said he can't blame Ute fans for their actions.
"They're out there supporting their team. It was a big win," he said. "If I was a fan, I would be rushing the field, too. I'd say thanks for rushing the field. It gave us another chance to tie the game and go into overtime. It doesn't really bother me."
BRONCOS' O-LINE: Boise State's offensive line has yet to surrender a sack this season.
"It's partly their offensive line, and it's partly the system," explained Mendenhall. "If you go back statistically and take the last five years, and look where Boise State ranks in terms of giving up sacks, I think you'll find they're probably in the top five or top 10 every year. Their system has a lot to do with it."