BYU football: BYU's passing game searching for answers

Published: Sunday, Sept. 22 2013 11:39 p.m. MDT

BYU's Taysom Hill as the University of Utah and Brigham Young University play football Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013, in Provo.

Tom Smart, Deseret News

PROVO — First, the good news for BYU.

Cougar running back Jamaal Williams, who suffered a concussion and severe stinger in the third quarter in a 20-13 loss to Utah, was released from the hospital Sunday morning.

Williams, a sophomore, underwent imaging and other testing to rule out a spine-related injury. He was alert and his condition continued to improve during the tests. Williams was kept at the hospital overnight for observation.

As for his status, Williams, who ran 13 times for 52 yards against the Utes and is No. 10 in the nation in rushing (126 yards per game), will continue to be examined every day to monitor his improvement.

BYU hosts Middle Tennessee Friday (7 p.m. MDT, ESPNU).

The bad news?

• The Cougars have now dropped four consecutive games to their arch-rivals in their final meeting until 2016.

• They’ve started with a 1-2 record for the seventh time in the last 10 seasons.

• And BYU’s offense — which featured a dismal passing game — managed just two field goals and a touchdown against Utah.

Quarterback Taysom Hill completed only 18-of-48 passes for 260 yards and one interception against the Utes. Hill misfired on 30 attempts, including a number of overthrown passes.

“This is a disappointing loss for us,” said offensive coordinator Robert Anae. “Obviously, our preparation wasn’t good enough.”

Nationally, BYU ranks No. 123 — which is last in the country — in pass efficiency.

"I need to be better," Hill said. “We need to be more efficient. I think Utah had a pretty good scheme on us, but there at the end, we started to find gaps. It is just unfortunate that we didn’t do it soon enough. So that is something that we need to continue to get better at.”

Anae said that the blame for his team’s passing woes can’t be pinned exclusively on Hill.

Hill was sacked five times and there were several dropped passes.

“Taysom is a sophomore quarterback. We expect to win the game,” Anae said. “We fell short. But I’m very encouraged about his work ethic and the way he plays in the course of a game. He’s very good to work with, adjustment-wise. I just wish we were sharper, obviously. We all do.”

Anae said the offense will go back to work this week.

“Our focus is to continue down the path that we’re going. We got beat in the trenches, and that’s something that we’ve got to simply get better at,” Anae said. “Credit goes to Utah. They were better than we were there. That’s not to blame any one group or any one person. It was an offensive effort, and their defense beat us. … There is no easy way out of this. We’ve got to coach our way out of it and we’ve got to prepare and play our way out of it.”

The Cougars had plenty of chances to send the game into overtime in the waning moments but failed to make key plays that could have made the difference. BYU couldn’t cash in after crossing into Utah territory.

“In going back to the number of missed opportunities, I think we had a missed field goal as well, so that would be one of a handful of plays that usually change games like this," said coach Bronco Mendenhall.

The Cougars, who rolled up a school record of 550 yards of rushing yards in a win over Texas, ran 47 times for 183 yards against the Utes. BYU converted just five of 21 third-down attempts.

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