Tanner Mangum

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Back on top (still): Taysom Hill named BYU’s starting QB

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Earlier this offseason, Taysom Hill decided to change his uniform number to honor the memory of his brother, who passed away a couple of months earlier.  Now, Hill will be able to wear that number on the field and not merely on the sidelines holding a clipboard.

Following a quarterback competition that began in the spring and continued deep into summer camp, new BYU offensive coordinator Ty Detmer announced that Hill has been named as the Cougars’ starter.  As it turns out, today is also Hill’s 26th birthday, and is also just a little over six months after Hill announced that he would be returning to the Cougars for another season.

He beat out the younger Tanner Mangum to continue what’s been, thanks to injuries, a roller coaster of a career.

Hill’s 2014 season was cut short because of injury after just four complete games, while his 2015 season ended after just one game; the latter virtually guaranteed he’d be granted a waiver for a sixth season. His 2012 season also ended prematurely after an injury.

The return of Hill had set up an interesting dynamic at the quarterback position for the Cougars. Following his Lisfranc injury in the 2015 opener against Nebraska, Hill was replaced by Tanner Mangum, who proceeded to beat the Cornhuskers on a Hail Mary. A week later, Mangum pulled off a last-minute miracle again.

As Hill’s replacement, Mangum completed 60 percent of his passes for 3,377 yards, 23 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. In Hill’s best season, his only healthy season in 2013, he too completed 60 percent of his passes for 2,938 yards, 19 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Hill, though, offers something Mangum can’t — the ability to beat opposing defenses with his legs.

In that 2013 season, Hill ran for 1,344 yards and 10 touchdowns. In 13 games this past season, Mangum ran for minus-96 yards.

The upcoming season will be Hill’s final season of eligibility… maybe.  Hill could apply for a sixth season of eligibility if that’s the direction he wants to take and, based on his truncated 2014 and 2015 seasons, he would be a shoo-in for a waiver.

FCS the next stop for transferring BYU QB McCoy Hill

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BYU legend Ty Detmer has officially been announced as the offensive coordinator at his alma mater, and, when he gets back to Provo, he’ll find his quarterback room a little lighter in personnel.

With Taysom Hill possibly returning, and with Hill’s replacement, Tanner Mangum, definitely returning, McCoy Hill took to social media earlier this week to confirm that he has decided to transfer out of the Cougars football program and pursue other opportunities.  Specifically, those other opportunities will entail Hill continuing his collegiate playing career at FCS Southern Utah.

Because Hill is dropping down from the FBS level, he’ll be eligible to play immediately in 2015.

McCoy attempted two passes during his time with the Cougars, completing both of them for 27 yards.  He also ran five times for 27 yards.

No. 22 Utah hangs on for Holy War revival win over BYU in Las Vegas Bowl

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No. 22 Utah turned five consecutive BYU turnovers into touchdowns en route to a 35-0 first quarter lead and then held on for dear life, securing a 35-28 win in the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl.

The turnover avalanche came early for BYU (9-4) after quarterback Tanner Mangum fumbled on the third play from scrimmage and Utah (10-3) cashed in with a six-play, 25-yard drive. Mangum’s next pass was intercepted by Tevin Carter and returned 28 yards for a touchdown. The Cougars’ third drive ended in another Mangum pick, this one again to Carter, who returned it 33 yards to the BYU 1. Joe Williams punched in Utah’s third touchdown one play later.

Mangum tossed his third pick on BYU’s next drive, this time to Dominique Hatfield, who raced 46 yards for another pick six. The deluge became complete when Squally Canada fumbled on the second snap of BYU’s next possession, and Travis Wilson cashed in five plays later with a 20-yard scoring dash.

All told, Utah held a 35-0 lead with 4:38 remaining in the first quarter while needing only 65 yards of offense.

The teams settled from there, trading punts on seven consecutive possessions after a missed BYU field goal, until the Cougars marched 97 yards in 13 plays to dent the scoreboard with a three-yard toss from Mangum to Remington Peck with 36 seconds left in the first half.

BYU forced a Utah punt to open the second half, then moved 72 yards in 12 plays to pull within 35-14 on a 10-yard Francis Bernard run at the 10:02 mark of the third quarter.

Mangum found Nick Kurtz for a five-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-goal with 10:33 left in the fourth quarter, then pulled his Cougars to within 35-28 on a four-yard run with 3:23 left.

Utah’s offense, with no points since that first quarter deluge, ran out the final 203 seconds, securing a win that, kiss-your-sister as it may have felt after that 35-0 lead, is a win nonetheless.

BYU out-gained the Utes 387-197 on the day while holding a 22-13 first downs edge. Mangum finished the day completing 25-of-56 passes for 315 yards with two touchdowns (plus one rushing) and three interceptions (plus one fumble). Wilson hit 9-of-16 throws for 71 yards while adding 15 rushes for 23 yards and a score. Utah held a 126-71 advantage on the ground.

In the teams’ first meeting since 2013, Utah’s win extended its Holy War lead to 58-34-4 in a series dating back to 1896 (today’s game was the first outside of Provo or Salt Lake City). The Utes have now won five straight meetings and 10 of the last 13.

With its current coaching staff out the door for Virginia as soon as the final gun sounded and its new head coach all but named before toe met leather, it appeared BYU’s focus these past two weeks was on anything but the opponent lining up across the line of scrimmage. BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall made coaching in the Vegas Bowl a condition of his accepting the job at Virginia, but the task of managing two jobs on opposite sides of the country appeared to affect his team’s preparation for Saturday’s game. Oregon State defensive coordinator and former Cougars fullback Kalani Sitake has been all but named BYU’s next head coach.

The win gives Kyle Whittingham his fourth 10-win season in 11 tries at Utah and, after an 18-19 start in the program’s first three Pac-12 seasons, pushes his Utes to 19-7 with two straight top-25 finishes over the past two seasons. And the cherry on top of a successful season? He denies Mendenhall his 100th victory at BYU while ending their personal 11-Year War with a 7-3 advantage.

Utah running away from BYU at Las Vegas Bowl

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And to think, BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall insisted he stick around for this.

BYU committed turnovers on its first five possessions and Utah turned them all into touchdowns, turning a Holy War reunion into a Holy Crap blowout barely 10 minutes in.

Cougars quarterback Tanner Mangum was the biggest turnover culprit, losing a fumble that led to Utah’s first score, then tossing two pick sixes and another pick that was returned to the BYU 1. A Squally Canada fumble on BYU’s fifth possession set up Utah’s most challenging scoring drive of the day, a five-play, 39-yard march that made the score 35-0 with 4:38 remaining in the first quarter.

The teams traded punts throughout the second quarter until BYU mounted a 97-yard touchdown drive that finally got them on the scoreboard with 36 seconds left in the half.

As it stands, Utah leads 35-7 despite being out-gained 190-77 and running only 26 plays.

Utah will receive to open the second half.