If it seems like Taysom Hill has been around forever, you would not be mistaken. Saturday night’s Cactus Kickoff Classic was the fifth BYU season opener that the quarterback took a snap in and his fourth straight start in the first game of the year for the Cougars.
By all accounts however, this opener was probably the sweetest of them all for the signal-caller who graduated high school back in 2009. Hill suffered season-ending injuries in 2012, 2014 and last year but triumphantly returned to the field against Arizona to deliver a rousing 18-16 victory in the final two minutes that also doubled as head coach Kalani Sitake’s first win with the Cougars.
Hill finished the evening 21-of-29 for 202 yards and a touchdown through the air, leading his team on the game-winning drive with just 1:38 left on the clock. The quarterback built like a tank also rushed for 37 yards and provided plenty of veteran leadership on the sidelines next to first time college coordinator (and former BYU legend) Ty Detmer.
The Cougars defense also came to play, sacking Wildcats quarterback Anu Solomon four times and picking him off twice. They are active in the trenches against a young offensive line and linebacker Butch Pau’u seemed to be all over the field on his way to an eight tackle (2.5 for a loss) and one sack night.
There was a bit of mystery as to whether Solomon would start behind center for Arizona or if head coach Rich Rodriguez would opt to go with redshirt sophomore Brandon Dawkins instead. It was Solomon’s show all game long and he extended a few plays with his legs but was otherwise middle of the road until the final quarter. That’s when the team came roaring back, with the quarterback keying a crazy comeback that gave the Wildcats the lead after a 49 yard run by tailback Nick Wilson.
That late game situation put the pressure on a first year head coach in Sitake, who took over at his alma mater from now Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall. BYU had to sweat things out at the end a bit but thankfully they had Hill behind center to help calmly march the Cougars down the field.
Sitake remarkably tapped freshman Jake Oldroyd — not the team’s other kicker, Rhett Almond — for his first ever college kick to be the eventual 33 yard game-winner.
It was a extraordinary way to win your first game but it was likely just as memorable for the team’s veteran quarterback.
LSU opened up a high-profile head coaching vacancy on Sunday by removing head coach Les Miles as the head of the football program. As Miles was shown the door, the list of possible candidates started popping up just about everywhere you might look. Names like Houston’s Tom Herman and Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher have been popular and trendy, but not so much for Stanford head coach David Shaw.
Asked about the new opening in Baton Rouge, Shaw was rather definitive in his stance.
“Are you serious? The answer is no,” Shaw said, seemingly without hesitation according to ESPN reporter David Lombardi.
It should be mentioned that it is incredibly rare for a head coach in a current position with one program would even drop a hint of interest in another position elsewhere, so keep that in mind as coaches like Herman and Fisher deny having any contact with LSU and so on during the annual coaching carousel. That said, Shaw leaving Stanford would be a pretty good shock, so we can probably take Shaw at his word here.
Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh announced senior cornerback Jeremy Clark will not play another down this season. Clark suffered a torn ACL in a blowout win against Penn State on Saturday while on special teams duty.
With Clark no longer an option for the defense, Harbaugh mentioned a few players as possible replacements for the rest of the season; Brandon Watson, Lavert Hill, and David Long.
Harbaugh also said the school will petition the NCAA to see if they can get a sixth year of eligibility for Clark. Players are eligible to apply for a medical redshirt of a season-ending injury occurs in the first third of the regular season, which Michigan’s fourth game would qualify for. Clark has already used a redshirt season at Michigan.
When you go out on a limb and guarantee a victory, you better hope you and your team can back it up. Otherwise, your statements could come back to haunt you. The folks in Tennessee had a little fun at the expense of Florida defensive back Quincy Wilson this week after the Vols came from behind to beat Florida in a key SEC East Division game in Knoxville. The win brought an end to an 11-year losing streak Tennessee had going against their division rivals from Florida, which was cause for celebration alone, but being able to capitalize on a golden quote served up by Wilson a few days prior to the game ensured yet another victory on social media.
“Have you ever seen a duck pull a truck? Ducks don’t pull trucks,” Wilson said in the days leading up to Florida’s game at Tennessee. “Nobody has ever seen a duck pull a truck. Florida Gators are going to win, simple as that.”
As that particular quote started making the rounds around the college football world, the Oregon Ducks of all programs decided to weigh in on the rivalry smack talk by sharing a video of the Oregon mascot pulling a truck…
So, it was only fitting that after Tennessee snapped its losing streak against the Gators and made Wilson eat some crow for his duck metaphor, the video production team at Tennessee had a little fun with everything that transpired. It would appear that Smokey, Tennessee’s mascot, appreciated the support from Oregon and is now repaying the favor.
Well done, Tennessee video team!
The Florida Gators do not appear to be optimistic about quarterback Luke Del Rio being available for their next game against Vanderbilt this weekend. Florida announced Del Rio is “highly doubtful” for this weekend’s game after missing this past weekend’s game at Tennessee.
Del Rio suffered a left knee injury two weeks ago against North Texas, forcing him to miss last weekend’s game against the Vols. Florida expects to be able to work Del Rio back into the practice routine starting Tuesday and will continue to monitor his progress as they make sure he is good to go before testing him in a game.
“I would say he’d be highly doubtful for this week,” Florida head coach Jim McElwain said Monday. “But I’m still not going to count him out.”
Austin Appleby stepped in to get his first start at Florida since transferring from Purdue when he took the field on Saturday at Tennessee. It is expected Appleby will once again get the start against Vanderbilt. Del Rio visited with the team and was in a uniform last weekend, more so he could communicate and help Appleby out as best he possibly could from the sideline.