Taysom Hill

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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.

Boise State still in front of Group of 5, but Cincy-Temple is one to watch this week

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As you no doubt know by now, the highest-ranked conference champion from the American Athletic Conference, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West Conference or Sun Belt Conference will receive an automatic spot in the New Years Six bowl line-up. The ranking used is not the AP or coaches polls, but the ranking cooked up by the College Football Playoff selection committee. Last season the big bowl spot went to Boise State. The Broncos are once again a favorite to land that bowl invitation, but one slip along the way could open a door for others.

Boise State travels to Provo, Utah this week for a big match-up with BYU. BYU does not figure into the Group of Five conversation as a football independent, but the Cougars play a key role in the outlook anyway. BYU, coming off a wild win at Nebraska and losing quarterback Taysom Hill, could be in positions for a letdown game, but the Broncos and Cougars have put together some tough contests in recent years. This week should be no different. Boise State could potentially lose this weekend and still end the year on top of the Group of Five in the eyes of the selection committee, but one loss is a slim margin for error in this race.

Perhaps Boise State’s top threat in the Group of Five race is Cincinnati, the preseason American Athletic Conference favorites. The BearCats, with Gunner Kiel, should be a program ready to make a run for a New Years Six bowl game on a fairly regular basis given the resources available to them and the overall strength of the conference. If Boise State slips, Cincinnati is next in line. But what if Cincinnati loses this weekend?

Cincinnati hosts Temple this week, with the Owls fresh off their first victory over Penn State since 1941. If Temple manages to pick up a win at Cincinnati — something last accomplished in 1985 — then the Owls may become a trendy team to follow in this season-long discussion. The schedule certainly works in Temple’s favor at least. If Temple escapes Cincinnati with a win, the Owls then have a chance to bring a 3-0 record into the bye week with a road game at UMass. In conference play, Temple does not play Houston or Navy, two potential contenders in the AAC West Division. Temple also gets Memphis and UCF at home. If Temple’s defensive performance against Penn State was a preview of things to come, each of those games could be possible wins. Temple also hosts Notre Dame on October 31, which could make for a nice little spotlight opportunity for the selection committee.

If I had to rank the top five Group of Five teams after one week of play, here is how I think the selection committee might rank them based on performance to date;

  1. Boise State
  2. Temple Owls
  3. Cincinnati Bearcats
  4. Navy
  5. Louisiana Tech

Mangum Miracle at Memorial: BYU stuns Nebraska on last-second Hail Mary

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Nebraska (0-1) fans had to feel concerned when one second was left on the clock as BYU’s (1-0) last offensive possession was running out of time. Just as it did in 2009 in the Big 12 championship game against Texas, that last second came back to haunt Nebraska. BYU quarterback Tanner Mangum, in relief of an injured Taysom Hill, unloaded a Hail Mary pass to the end zone, and Mitch Matthews somehow came down with it across the goal line for a wild 33-28 lead and the win. The officials needed to review the final play, but it did not take long to confirm the call on the field for the game-winning touchdown. It was Mangum’s only touchdown pass of the game.

After the game BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall said Hill is done for the season. The quarterback was roughed up at times and needed to leave the game twice for medical attention. That will put the offense in the hands of Mangum moving forward, and that is a tough blow to BYU.

BYU established some dominance in the first half by taking a 24-14 lead into halftime, but the Cornhuskers roared back in the second half to take a 28-27 lead into the fourth quarter. But BYU clamped down and prevented Nebraska from tacking on any more points. Meanwhile, the offense chipped away and moved into position to pull the stunner on Nebraska.

Hill ended his day with 268 passing yards and a touchdown pass to go with his 72 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns. His counterpart, Nebraska’s Tommy Armstrong, had 318 passing yards and three touchdowns, while the running game split contributions in the post-Ameer Abdullah era.

For Nebraska, at least it wasn’t the worst loss of the day suffered by a Big Ten team (that distinction belongs to Penn State). It did, however, do nothing to help boost the Big Ten’s sluggish start to the season’s non-conference action. Michigan and Minnesota each lost to power conference teams on Thursday night. Penn State just went down to Temple. Now Nebraska had a setback against BYU. These are the types of games the Big Ten could not afford to lose to carry over momentum gained from a nice postseason run last year. But hey, at least Northwestern topped Stanford today, so it’s not all bad for the Big Ten and Big Ten West (Wisconsin vs. Alabama pending).

For BYU, this is a great start to a very challenging September. The Cougars have Boise State, UCLA and Michigan still to play, but breaking even with a 2-2 record was always viewed as a realistic possibility and a positive start to the season. That’s still in the fold for BYU. Heck, a winning record may not be impossible to grab.