As former BYU linebacker Brandon Ogletree notes in this evaluation of the BYU-Virginia football game in his fine blog, quarterback Taysom Hill clearly does not run as well with the bulky brace on his left knee as he did before last year's season-ending knee injury.
Hill told the Tribune on Monday that he will most likely have to wear the brace the entire season. Evidently, that has always been the plan, although early in fall camp there was some doubt.
"It was something that I didn't necessarily think about, you know?" Hill said of the brace. "I think there was probably a little hindrance, but not enough to warrant saying, 'hey, let's take it off and not protect myself.' So it is fine, and it is something I will continue to wear."
Hill's not sure whether the brace slowed him down, but he does know what it didn't do: make him faster.
"It is hard to say. I feel like if I go out to practice without it, I am quicker. I have a quicker step and stuff. There is a little bit [of hindrance]. It is bulky, it is heavy, and as you start to play it moves around, too. It definitely doesn't make me faster, but I don't know if it is enough to say, 'let's not wear it, and risk injury.'"
Hill's play, and especially his 13 of 40 passing effort against a mediocre, at best, Virginia defense has been the topic of many discussions this week, both around town and after BYU practices.
Said offensive coordinator Robert Anae:
"You know, we are all involved in the pass game. It starts with the offensive line. Obviously, it starts with the snap of the ball. Then the blocking. If you are targeting right, and the protection has a nice, big pocket, and the receivers are open, I really like Taysom Hill as a quarterback. He's excellent. But very few of those things were in place, and we are looking forward to this week having a much better grip on the other 10 guys on the field and what they are doing.
You cannot really judge a quarterback unless that part gets fixed. And we are in the process of doing that. Far from a completed deal."
Hill ran eight times for 57 yards. He was sacked three times for -15 yards, so his net rushing figures were 11 attempts for 42 yards.
"A lot of that is determined by the defense, so when a certain play is called ... Sometimes they are just called pulls, and other times they are reads," Anae said. "So I try to strike a good balance and look at the health of our quarterback. Boy, he slugged it out. Tried to avoid running him, running him, running him. We put him in a position to do more throwing, because the upside there is going to be tremendous.
When it all falls into place, everybody will go, 'oh, I see. I get it.' The first game, sophomore year, I am sure there are plenty of wild conclusions. But tune in. Like they said in the Batman thing, tune in to next week."
Coach Bronco Mendenhall said Saturday that he thought Hill played well, and repeated that on Monday when he met with reporters after practice.
"Well, as the game got on the line, there was a third and 11, a third and 12, where he was taking shots and reaching ahead to get the first down, and it is hard to say, 'don't do that,'" Mendenhall said. "To be able to sustain that for 12 more games, he's not going to be able to do that, so the rest of the execution around him has to improve, so it doesn't happen, that he doesn't have that burden. Then, I would say I don't think the delivering of the ball was as much of an accuracy issue as catching. So I thought he had a good game, a strong game."
Hill acknowledged that he never envisioned going 13 for 40 in his first college start on the road.
"It is frustrating, but hey, look at the conditions we were playing in. I am not one to make excuses and everything when we lose, but it is something we will learn from, and we will come back and we will be better at it. 13 of 40 is definitely something that we can improve on," he said.
Here's Hill on how he expects the team to respond:
"I don't know if you saw any practice, but we were pretty sharp today," he said Monday. "Obviously there is that mentality that we were frustrated. We were right there, we had a great opportunity to win the game. So there's that. And guys are hungry. I left our team meeting wanting to go play right now, and I feel like that is the vibes of the entire team, the thought that the entire team has.
Coach Anae said after practice that that is the focus that we need to have to go in and win a game. And that's the focus I expect all this week."
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