Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
BYU fans have mixed feelings about quarterback Taysom Hill. While they loved Hill's 259 yards and three touchdowns rushing vs. Texas, they also cringed at his 37.5 percent completion rate in the 20-13 loss to Utah.
Of course, what BYU fans often forget is that Hill is a true sophomore that missed most of 2012 with a knee injury. Given time, Hill will improve his passing game.
Meanwhile, Utah State loves Chuckie Keeton. After all, his 3,373 yards passing, 619 yards rushing and 35 total touchdowns powered the Aggies to their first conference title since they joined the FBS. BYU fans might covet this seasoned junior quarterback.
However, they can take comfort that with some more coaching and experience, Hill can become as good as Keeton.
Granted, Keeton was well ahead of where Hill is now as a sophomore in the passing game. Last season, Keeton completed 67.6 percent of his passes and threw for 3,373 yards and 27 touchdowns. Hill is completing only 40.6 percent of his passes and he's on pace for 2,408 yards and 3.25 touchdowns.
There's no comparison.
However, 2012 was Keeton's second season as the starter, so 2011 is a better comparison as this is Hill's first year as the starter. Keeton started eight games as a true freshman before suffering a stinger to the spine vs. Hawaii. Taking into account the seven complete games Keeton played in before the injury at Hawaii, Keeton completed 62.3 percent of his passes for 1,147 yards passing and 10 touchdowns.
Projecting Hill's passing stats through the same number of games, he's have 1,297 yards passing and 1.75 touchdowns. The passing touchdowns and completion percentage are heavily in Keeton's favor, but notice that Hill leads in yards passing.
So, there is hope.
One area that Hill is well ahead of Keeton is in rushing yards and touchdowns. If Hill continues at his current pace, he'll have 999 rushing yards and 10.5 touchdowns by game seven. Keeton only had 283 yards and four touchdowns in his seven healthy games in his first season as the starter.
Keeton's sophomore year doesn't come close, either. Keeton finished 2012 with 619 yards and eight touchdowns rushing. At Hill's current pace and assuming that the Cougars play in a bowl game, he'll finish 2013 with 1,836 yards and 19.5 touchdowns.
What will likely happen is that Hill's passing stats will increase and his rushing stats will decrease somewhat as he won't have to depend on his legs as much to make big plays. Of course, if you could combine Keeton's arm with Hill's legs, you'd have a Heisman Trophy candidate.
BYU fans shouldn't hold their breath hoping for that best-case scenario. Still, Hill does have the rest of 2013 plus two full seasons to improve his passing game.
Be patient, BYU fans. As Keeton now is, Hill may become.
Lafe Peavler is a sportswriter intern at the Deseret News. Follow me on Twitter @MasterPeavler
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