It’s time for Taysom Hill to put BYU’s offense on his very strong back and get it out of the unproductive doldrums.
He’s a fifth-year senior who opponents say is older than Adam. He’s seen all kinds of defenses and operated with multiple offensive designs and coordinator personalities. He’s a common thread in BYU successes. He’s a leader and inspiration force.
Now, even on the road in BYU’s fourth game when many say the Cougars are underdogs, it is time for him to deliver. Whether a win or a loss, BYU’s offense is screaming for productivity, consistency and big plays. So is its defense. And staff.
BYU’s coaching staff has sent a public signal, Taysom is their man. They’ve got his back.
Meanwhile, there are plenty of folks wearing media and fan badges that say Kalani Sitake and Ty Detmer should pass the baton to Tanner Mangum. In fact, this topic was at the center of plenty of discomfort in Cougar Nation over the weekend. It was even the fuse that led to a full-out fist fight in the north end zone at LaVell Edwards Stadium last Saturday when a young fan, labeled obnoxious by observers, was screaming at Hill with venom. When another fan told him to shut up, a confrontation ensued, a guy’s wife was bumped and it turned to swings and security.
Time to shut everyone up, Mr. Hill.
It’s time to produce more than 19 points, throw passes longer than 19 yards, take advantage of BYU’s defense delivering turnovers with interceptions and fumbles.
Earlier this week, Sitake told reporters the fact this is a new offense is no longer an excuse. It’s not new anymore. The actors simply need to start giving their lines without stuttering. It starts with the O-line, continues with receivers, but in Provo, the buck always stops with the quarterback.
This is Hill’s inheritance.
This season is a reminder of a little history, the fact the Cougars are playing four straight Power 5 teams, three from the Pac-12, another from the Big 12. This wouldn’t be a discussion if the Cougars were 3-0 heading to the East Coast to play West Virginia after going up against Northern Arizona, SUU and Southeast Louisiana or even San Jose State.
But that didn’t happen.
It reminds me of 1991, the season after Ty Detmer won the Heisman Trophy. He was making a comeback from shoulder surgeries, and had to break in new players such as Mark Atuaia and Itula Mili after losing Mark Bellini and Chris Smith.
That fall the Cougars went up against some tough competition. They opened up against Florida State and lost 44-28. The Cougars then traveled to Los Angeles to play UCLA and lost 27-23. At 0-2, the Cougars then went across the country to play Penn State and Joe Paterno and got kicked around 33-7.
That team was 0-3. It had issues. It had offensive problems, even with Detmer and Norm Chow operating the offense and Roger French teaching the blocking. It was a struggle. Most of that was playing FSU, UCLA and Penn State rather than New Mexico and Wyoming or Montana State.
Wednesday, Detmer brought up that season, speaking of film review of Hill against UCLA: "We were 0-3 my senior year and I hadn't changed as a player. Sometimes you're only as good as the guys that are playing around you."
This season, BYU is playing a lot of what I’d call 50-50 games. It's got break-even chances to win. And after winning by one, losing by one and losing by three, that’s exactly what’s happened.
In 1991, Detmer took control with a young offense and began to produce in league play. The Cougars never lost another game, winning eight and tying San Diego State in that 52-52 NCAA record-setting shootout, then tied Iowa in the Holiday Bowl.
Sitake said BYU’s offense doesn’t have excuses that it’s young and new anymore. Neither did Detmer after going 3-0. It was time to just bear down, execute better with all the actors doing their parts. That team ended up outscoring its opponents 420 to 308 points, even with the lopsided losses to the Seminoles and Nittany Lions.
This is kind of what Hill needs to get this BYU offense to do.
Thing is, Detmer had a WAC title to play for but this team is independent. It now plays for a national ranking and preparation to qualify for a bowl game in San Diego.
Enough with dropped balls, inexact routes, whiffs on blocks, passing too hard.
If this first Sitake team wants to make noise, the next two weeks are critical.
September was always going to be tough. But just scoring 24 a game would have put it 3-0 instead of 1-2. Is it really that simple? Well, yes, it is. Five more points an outing and the fans and media whistle a different tune. That nagging feeling among players and taste in the mouth is completely different.
A year ago when Hill lasted about three-quarters of the first game, BYU averaged 31 points and 432 points against Nebraska, Boise State and UCLA. I’d say the defenses BYU has faced so far this year are better than those a year ago, so there’s a price to pay.
BYU is averaging 17 points and 338 total yards a game this season. That’s 56.6 percent of the scoring from a year ago and 78.3 percent of the yardage at this juncture in 2015 after three contests.
Contrary to what some arm-chair QBs believe, this isn’t all on Hill. I’d say the schedule needs to be recognized as a huge part of BYU’s offensive stuttering.
But fair or unfair, Hill is the focal point.
And by force of personality and experience, he’s the most able force to offer a major fix against West Virginia.