For the better part of three seasons, the quarterback position has been unsettled for the Brigham Young Cougars. Quarterback play has often been inconsistent, which caused Bronco Mendenhall and the BYU offensive coaching staff to face a lot of heat from fans and in the media. These problems are expected to end next year with Taysom Hill as the heir apparent to the quarterback position.
Hill came off the bench at Boise State and nearly led BYU to victory. He got his first career start in the fifth game of this season against Hawaii. In that game, Hill completed 12 of 21 passes for 112 yards and 2 touchdowns with 1 interception. He also added 143 yards and one touchdown on the ground as he rushed 15 times. His touchdown run was 68 yards, which is the longest run from scrimmage by any BYU player this year and all of last year. In fact, only two players, both in garbage time situations, since 2003 have had longer runs than Hill's 68-yard jaunt. Hill also became the first BYU player in 18 games to rush for 100 yards.
BYU beat Hawaii 47-0. It was an impressive start for Hill. He played even better in his second career start the next week. With Riley Nelson graduating at the end of 2012, Hill gained valuable experience to inherit the starting spot next year.
Hill, however, wasn't the only BYU quarterback in 2012 to impress in his first career start.
Last week, James Lark had his first career start at New Mexico State. Lark's amazing accomplishment in that game have been well documented on this site and many others. He set two new standards for BYU quarterbacks in their first career start, and tied another. He was one touchdown pass away from tying the mark for most touchdown passes. Like Hill, Lark achieved many statistical marks that had not been reached at BYU for years.
It is rather rare that BYU has two quarterbacks make their first career start in the same season. That got BLUE COUGAR FOOTBALL curious. Who do fans think had the better first career start--Hill or Lark?
After putting the question out to site visitors, the fans clearly feel Lark had the better first career start. Just 17 percent of voters chose Hill, while the other 83 percent voted for Lark. I would agree with the majority.
Picking between these two was difficult. While they both played terrible opponents and led the offense to 20 first half points, Hill is a true freshman and Lark is a redshirt senior. How much should that be taken into consideration? Lark had much better passing stats than Hill, but that is expected with his greater experience.
In the end, I think Lark's passing performance was sufficiently superior to Hill's to say he had a better first start than Hill despite the seniority and less rushing output, but the margin was slim. That doesn't mean to say I am pessimistic about the prospect of Hill starting for BYU next year. Hill has the potential to be a great pocket passer at the Y, and his ability to run will only enhance what he is able to achieve.
The overwhelming support for Lark in this poll could be interpreted to mean that fans would also prefer to see him as the starting quarterback in 2013. Fortunately for fans, and more importantly the BYU coaches, they don't have to debate whether Lark of Hill should be the starting quarterback in 2013. As the quarterback position has struggled since 2010, many fans have held strong opinions about who the starting quarterback should be, and they haven't always had the same opinion as head coach Bronco Mendenhall and offensive coordinator Brandon Doman in this matter. Contention over the starting quarterback the last three years has been very unhealthy for the BYU program.
Lark is a senior and will not be at BYU next year. Early in 2012, however, BYU coaches made it clear that they preferred Hill over Lark. After just two games, it was publicized that Hill had supplanted Lark as the no. 2 quarterback on the depth chart. That is precisely why Hill started the Hawaii and Utah State games.
It is great that both Hill and Lark had opportunities to shine in 2012, but the last thing the BYU program needs is one more year of split loyalties over the starting quarterback. Fortunately, Hill is the only quarterback with playing experience returning next year. Fans, coaches, and players should have little trouble uniting to support Hill as the starting quarterback.
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