Dick Harmon: BYU legends offer support, praise for Cougar quarterback Taysom Hill

Published: Saturday, Nov. 2 2013 6:55 p.m. MDT

This is an important week for Taysom Hill to be The Man.

Hill will lead the Cougars to Madison, Wis., for a showdown with ranked Wisconsin Saturday afternoon at Camp Randall Stadium. The last time the Cougars played there was Sept. 20, 1980. Jim McMahon was BYU's quarterback. Hill wasn’t even born. The Cougars won 28-3.

As history has shown, BYU's chances to win big games hinge greatly on the skill and leadership of the quarterback position.

After watching him suffer through a slow start before showing immense promise, some of the men who used to star at quarterback in Provo have offered high praise for the kid from Idaho who has passed for 756 yards and scored seven touchdowns in his past two games. Going into this weekend, Hill ranked No. 6 in the NCAA in total offense with 2,860 yards, an average of 360.9 per game.

Robbie Bosco, the All-American BYU QB who now works in the school’s athletic department, said it is obvious the game has slowed down for Hill and he’s playing "with tons of confidence."

That shift came after Hill’s third game. He completed just 35 percent of his passes against Virginia, Texas and Utah to open the 2013 season. But since a 37.5 percent effort in a loss to Utah, Hill’s accuracy skyrocketed to percentages of 73.7, 54.8, 70.4 and 65.9. Why? BYU shifted from having him throw option routes to throwing quicker-developing passes where he could react and fire and make progressions in sets that he feels comfortable with.

With defenses crowding the box to stop BYU’s run, Hill began attacking man coverage with Cody Hoffman and the rest of his receivers. It’s resulted in big plays against Middle Tennessee, Utah State, Georgia Tech, Houston and Boise State.

“The game has slowed down for him,” said Bosco.

“From a quarterback standpoint, the thing I’m most impressed with is he’s keeping his eyes downfield. He’s just not coming up, making a read and throwing it no matter what. He’s going through a progression, going from one, two, three and throwing to four. When he makes a decision to throw it, he’s throwing it on time now and making accurate throws,” said Bosco.

It's not just his progressions that are standing out, either. It's his raw skill set, physical talent, foot speed and arm strength as a package. With big, tall targets, it is all coming together.

“It’s amazing,” said Bosco. “He’s doing it at a pretty young age, as a sophomore. I only see him getting better and better. He’s putting up crazy numbers now. If he continues to progress like he’s doing and working hard like he’s doing, he’s going to put up some numbers that people aren’t accustomed to around here.”

That is a thought echoed by former BYU offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Brandon Doman, who answered Hill questions on 1280 The Zone last week.

“This kid athletically is so unique, so talented. Now you are seeing him gain confidence in throwing the football,” he told co-hosts David James and Pat Kinahan.

“We’re not seeing him miss the mark very often,” said Doman. “I said early on, 'It is timing, decision-making and then the accuracy comes along.' He’s too good of an athlete that once he figures out the first two components, his timing and decision-making, the accuracy will be secondary for this kid and we’re starting to see him throw the ball right on the money in almost every case. He’s not missing many. That is only going to improve.”

The fact that Hill can run with speed and strength like Luke Staley is enhancing his skill set with the pass, said Doman.

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