Provo • BYU’s Taysom Hill statistically is off to the worst start of any starting quarterback in the Football Championship Subdivision, at least when it comes to throwing the football. With Hill having taken every snap in three games, BYU ranks dead last in the country in passing efficiency.
But BYU coaches said Tuesday that benching Hill, a sophomore who has made five career starts, is not remotely on their minds as they prepare to play Middle Tennessee State on Friday (7 p.m., ESPNU) at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
“We are a long way away from that,” quarterbacks coach Jason Beck said. “We are pleased with where Taysom is at and how he’s playing, and where this is headed with the system we are running. We have tons of confidence in Taysom and his ability.”
The alternative would be playing another sophomore, Ammon Olsen, who is perhaps a better pure passer than Hill but not nearly the runner.
“You guys heard coming through camp that we are really excited about Ammon and him as a player,” Beck said. “We need him to play [at some point]. But yeah, we are nowhere close to getting anything [changed] that way.”
Hill’s passing efficiency rate is 74.28, and he has completed just 35.1 percent of his passes (40 of 114). It has been well-documented that many of those incompletions were not entirely his fault.
Pass protection has been dismal, the running game has been spotty, receivers have dropped catchable passes and some routes have been run poorly, offensive coordinator Robert Anae reiterated after practice Tuesday.
“Well it is kind of the stage of where we are at right now,” Anae said about being last in passing efficiency. “The pass game has not been effective, and the run game has been spotty as well. So it has got to be tightened down on all levels — passing, running, the fundamentals of the game on offense. If it is a pass play, you gotta get open, and you have to protect and you have to throw. And then you have to catch. And right now, we are not doing that at a high level.”
Like Beck, Anae expressed confidence that Hill is the player best-equipped to direct the “go hard, go fast” offense that has the Cougars running more plays per minute than any team in the country.
“Before we jump to conclusions about Taysom Hill, what I see is we have to grow as an offensive unit,” Anae said. “And the pass efficiency statistic is characteristic of where we are at right now.”
Ex-Timpview star glad to be back home
Safety Chris Badger, the former Timpview High star who transferred to BYU from Notre Dame during the summer and recently learned that the NCAA has cleared him to play immediately, said he already is comfortable in Provo because the team features many of his high school teammates, guys such as safety Craig Bills and defensive end Bronson Kaufusi.
“It has been a good transition being back home,” said Badger, who applied for the NCAA waiver because he wanted to be closer to his mother, who has been experiencing some undisclosed difficulties. “It has been kind of like picking up where we left off.”
Badger ran with the scout team until he was granted eligibility last week, and he now is trying to make his mark on special teams. He ran with the second-string defense at nickel back Monday. Other days, he’s been with the third team at safety.
“I am not really sure what teams I will be on, or when I will play, or if I will play this year,” he said. “I am just kind of taking it day by day.”
Middle Tenn. St. at BYU
O Friday, 7 p.m.
TV • ESPNU