I'm looking forward to being back out on the field with the team and being in a venue that we'll be in, in Arizona. I'm fired up. I can't wait. I'm ready to go. —BYU quarterback Taysom Hill
BYU (0-0) vs. Arizona (0-0)
Saturday, 8:30 p.m. MDT University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona TV: Fox Sports 1
Radio: 1160 AM, 102.7 FM
PROVO — The last time BYU quarterback Taysom Hill finished a football game was nearly two years ago, on Sept. 20, 2014 — a 41-33 home victory over Virginia.
But as Hill prepares to lead the Cougars as their opening-game starter Saturday (8:30 p.m. MDT, FS1) for the fourth consecutive year, that’s not something he’s thinking about.
“I’m looking forward to being back out on the field with the team and being in a venue that we’ll be in, in Arizona,” Hill said. “I’m fired up. I can’t wait. I’m ready to go.”
Starting is not something that Hill has struggled with — it's finishing. Only once in his BYU career, in 2013, has he completed an entire season without injury.
Hill, who was voted as a team captain again, said he isn’t haunted by the fact that he’s endured three season-ending injuries in four years. He is intimately acquainted with missing games and going through grueling, offseason rehab — but he doesn’t dwell on it.
“It’s all behind me. I’ve been through this three times,” Hill said. “From a mental standpoint, all I needed to hear was my doctor telling me that I’m healed and healthy and good to go. When I’ve gone out to play, it hasn’t been a thought at all.”
For Hill, this final comeback has been worth it.
“I’ve literally exhausted every effort to stay healthy. I would say at this point, everything was about getting healthy,” he said. “This offseason was more about maintaining my health for the long run and for the season. Those are the things that I’ve focused on. I’ve seen different guys to try to accomplish that. I feel really good. But at the end of the day, it’s football. You never know what’s going to happen.”
BYU has switched from the go-fast-go-hard offense to a traditional pro-style offense, and offensive coordinator Ty Detmer said Hill can be explosive in this new style that will be unveiled against Arizona.
“Obviously, with Taysom, we’ll have some wrinkles in and some opportunities for some read-type opportunities at certain points in the game,” Detmer explained.
Hill is known for his prodigious running ability — his 2,212 career rushing yards is No. 10 all-time at BYU and his career 5.57 yard-per-carry average is No. 2 in BYU history, only behind Luke Staley’s 5.95. Despite his injury history, Hill will still be running the ball.
“That’s part of what he does. We’ll try to limit some of that,” Detmer said. “As a coordinator, you want to play to people’s strengths. We’ll have a plan going in on that part of it. He’ll know when the right time is and when he’s got to play close to the vest.”
Before leaving the season-opener at Nebraska in the third quarter with a foot injury last year, Hill showed again his ability as a dual-threat quarterback. He completed 21 of 34 passes for 268 yards and a touchdown and he ran nine times for 72 yards and two TDs.
While Hill is an experienced starter, the coaching staff is new and so is the offense.
“There are a lot of unknowns this year. We have guys who have been in game situations and have a lot of experience, so that will help,” Hill said. “But this is the first time we’ve been in this offense. So there are still a lot of unknowns out there. Hopefully, we can pick up where we left off and continue to score points right from the get-go. You just never know.”
This season, Hill will be playing with even more motivation.
Last spring, his older brother Dexter died unexpectedly. In honor of him, Hill will wear No. 7 this season instead of No. 4, which had been his number since he was a freshman in 2012. Dexter Hill wore No. 7 when he was a college quarterback.
“I look up to my brother so much,” Taysom Hill said. “I look at a lot of my competitiveness and motivation to play, and excel in, college football, it came from him.”
Back for the fourth time after overcoming an injury, Hill is simply grateful for another chance to play quarterback at BYU.
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