After a weekend of rumors and speculation, Brigham Young Cougars head coach Bronco Mendenhall confirmed that freshman quarterback Taysom Hill has suffered a knee injury and will miss the rest of the 2012 season.
With just over two minutes to play in the game against Utah State, the Cougars were trying to run out the clock and finish what would be a 6-3 victory. Utah State had all three timeouts, so BYU could not simply kneel on the ball. However, BYU gained two first downs while Utah State used two of its three timeouts, at which point enough time had elapsed and BYU could start to be cautious and kneel on the ball.
Mendenhall explained following practice on Monday that Hill missed the signal from BYU coaches that he was supposed to kneel on the ball.
"Taysom go hurt third to the last play in out game against Utah State," Mendenhall explained. "He received a pretty clear signal from the sideline that means the clock is going. He interpreted it as run the play, that meaning run the play. He took the eyes away, victory was signaled then right after that he got hurt. Miscommunication."
Mendenhall assumed responsibility for Hill's injury, saying, "I'm responsible for anything that happens when one of our guy[s] gets hurt. He's out the remainder of the year." He added, "Everyone was yelling, 'Victory! Victory! Victory!' but he didn't hear it. It's really unfortunate. Cleaner communication on our part needs to be done so it's easier on him. It's not his fault; it's our fault."
Although he was not the starting quarterback at the beginning of the season, Hill has played in every game this season. His very first play was an 18-yard touchdown pass. He has played remarkably poised for a true freshman. For the last two and a half games, he has played full time at quarterback for an injured Riley Nelson. Hill has completed 42 of 71 pass attempts for 425 yards with 4 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. His pass efficiency rating is 122.4. He has also rushed 55 times for a team high 336 yards (6.1 yard per carry) and 4 touchdowns.
Hill will undergo surgery this week or next week to repair the lateral collateral injury to his knee and will need four to six months to recover, which would be between mid-February and mid-April 2013. Therein lies the greater concern.
Although Riley Nelson was expected to return from injury this week, regardless of Hill's health, Hill will still be missed during the 2012 season. However, what really matters is that Hill is ready for spring practices. Nelson is a senior, and Hill was considered the heir apparent at quarterback. He had already supplanted senior James Lark as the no. 2 quarterback on the depth chart before Nelson's injury. To be ready for a daunting 2013 schedule, the Cougars need Hill to get as much practice with the team as possible.
Typically, BYU starts spring practice in the first half of March and finishes a month later. A quick recovery is in the best interest of all parties.
In reaction to the news that Hill was lost for the season, Nelson said, "My heart goes out to him. First and foremost my prayers are with him. A season ending injury is tough. I've experienced those and they are frustrating and hard to get over. Second of all it is a big blow to our team. He's a playmaker and one of our best offensive weapons. To have him go down leaves a hole in our offense so guys are going to just have to step up and fill it like they do every year."
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