It was a little bit less than a week ago when senior quarterback Taysom Hill took the snap on second down inside the Utah State red zone and ran for 12 yards. Then he attempted to hurdle an Aggie defender to reach the end zone and ice the game. However, he came down awkwardly and injured his left arm. With the news coming out on Monday that the injury will prevent Hill from playing in BYU’s bowl game on Dec. 21, here is a look back at some of the best games for the Cougar quarterback.
In his first career start, Hill led BYU to a 47-0 win over former BYU assistant Norm Chow and his Hawaii team. His stat line for that game was 12 of 21 passing for 112 yards and two touchdowns. He also added 141 yards rushing on 15 attempts (9.40 yards per carry) with a long of 68 yards and another touchdown. This was the first time that Hill ran for more than 100 yards. BYU fans were excited about his athleticism and his future career, but he only started one more game during the 2012 season before suffering a season-ending injury in the final seconds against Utah State.
When most BYU fans think of this game, they remember that kickoff was delayed due to weather. They will also remember Hill running all over the Texas defense in route to the most yards rushing gained during his career in Provo. While Hill struggled passing in this game, finishing with only 129 yards on nine completions — mostly due to the weather — his speed and strength were on display against the Longhorns. He tallied 259 yards on only 17 rush attempts for a then-Cougar record 15.24 yards per carry. He also scored three rushing touchdowns and again had a long run of 68 yards as the Cougars won 40-21.
A little more than a month later, Hill had statistically the best game of his career. He completed 29 of 44 passes for 417 yards and four touchdowns and a QB rating of 161.9, including the game-winning touchdown pass with just more than a minute remaining as the final was 47-46. He also added 128 yards rushing on 34 attempts. Hill finished with a total offensive output of 545 yards that game, which is currently good enough for ninth on the BYU all-time record list for offense in a single game.
Hill followed up his amazing performance against Houston with another impressive display at home against Boise State. Hill was dominant in the first half as he accounted for 253 yards passing and two touchdowns, plus added another score rushing. His final stat line was 339 yards passing on 27 completions for 339 yards and three touchdowns. He also added 69 yards rushing for a second straight game where he accounted for more than 400 yards of offense. This marked the first time that BYU had beaten Boise State in football (37-20) and clinched the Cougars a berth in the Fight Hunger Bowl.
In the only bowl game that Hill was able to play in during his Cougar career, he tallied more than 400 yards of total offense for the third time during the 2013 season. He finished his sophomore season with 426 yards of total offense; 293 yards passing on 25 completions and an extra 133 yards on the ground on 31 carries in the 31-16 loss. Many BYU fans expected big things from Hill and the Cougars in 2014 based on his performances throughout most of the 2013 season.
Hill picked up where he left off in the opening game of the 2014 season, tallying more than 400 yards of combined offense for the fourth time in the last eight games. He led the Cougars to a 35-10 win and accounted for 308 yards passing and three touchdowns on 28 completions. His 77.8 percent completion rate in this game was the highest of his career in games where he attempted more than 20 passes. Hill was also responsible for 97 yards rushing and two more touchdown runs. His adjusted QBR — a stat that factors in the strength of the defense — was 91.9 out of 100.0, which amounted to the second best of his career in games that he started.
After leading the Cougars to four consecutive wins to open the 2014 season, Hill was becoming well-known all across the country and even in the early conversations of Heisman Trophy candidates. Through the first half of the rivalry game against the Aggies, Hill managed 8-of-11 passing for 99 yards and a touchdown and an additional 32 yards on the ground. Late in the second quarter though, Hill was injured again; while losing 21-14, Hill suffered another season-ending injury to his leg and the Cougars went on to lose to the Aggies 35-20, the first time the Aggies had won in Provo since 1976.
As the 2015 season began with fall camp, BYU fans were excited about the return of Hill for his senior campaign. What appeared to be a tough schedule awaited the Cougars, and many fans hoped that Hill would return and put himself back in the conversation for national recognition. The first half was going according to that plan, until Hill limped off the field following a 21-yard touchdown run. Hill showed his courageous side as he returned to the game in the second half with what was later revealed to be a Lisfranc injury before being replaced by freshman Tanner Mangum.
Hill finished his only game of the 2015 season with 21-of-34 passing for 268 yards and one touchdown, as well as 72 yards rushing on only nine carries and two additional touchdowns.
Hill and Mangum entered the 2016 season in a battle to be named the starting quarterback under new head coach Kalani Sitake. Ultimately, Hill won the job, and the reaction among many BYU fans when the announcement was made was a hope that Hill would be able to stay healthy for his final season. Hill did just that, starting 12 games. One of his best performances came against the Bulldogs. He threw for three touchdowns and ran for another in the double-overtime win by the score 28-21 and finished with 214 yards of offense.
Hill’s best game of his senior season from a statistics standpoint came just a few weeks ago as in-state foe Southern Utah visited Provo for the first time. Even though the Thunderbirds are an FCS team, Hill needed to lead the offense with Jamaal Williams and Squally Canada out with injuries. In a somewhat-surprising passing attack, Hill threw for the most yards in a game in more than three years. He finished with 320 yards passing on 22 completions (29 attempts) and two touchdowns. He also added 29 yards rushing and another score in the 37-7 win. His QB rating was 184.4, the best of his career starts, and his raw QBR (95.5, third best) and adjusted QBR (87.3, 10th best) finished as top performances in each respective category over the course of his five seasons in Provo.
Landon Walters studied history and political science at Salt Lake Community College. He is an avid sports fan and loves writing. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org