Utah State's Matt Wells, Aggies respect BYU QB Taysom Hill's game
Logan • Even as some BYU fans clamor for a starting quarterback change - well, actually, Utah State might not mind that so much.
If Matt Wells' comments during his Monday press conference accurately reflect his thoughts on Taysom Hill, BYU's fleet-footed passer, he might rather face someone else when the Aggies host the Cougars on Friday night. The sophomore has run for 141.2 yards per game, good for sixth in the nation, and he's hard to wrangle down when he gets moving.
"There's some stuff just like with Chuckie [Keeton] that you can't coach and you can't scheme," Wells said. "When it's man-to-man a lot of times he makes those guys miss or he runs through arm tackles. He'll be a load to stop."
Wells called Hill a physical, confident athlete, and there's no doubt he is. But in recent weeks, Hill has been taken to task for his arm.
Hill is ranked No. 120 in the nation in passing efficiency, completing 40.6 percent of his passes for 741 yards and throwing four picks against one touchdown. BYU is ranked 103rd in passing offense.
But don't count Wells as one of his detractors. Utah State's coach said directing a passing game requires so many players to be in sync, blockers and receivers included. Often, when things don't go well, the blame is immediately shifted to the guy under center.
"Sometimes it's rhythm, sometimes it's protection, sometimes it's something flashing in front of the quarterback's face," Wells said. "Maybe there's penetration, maybe there's pressure on him from an O-Line or running back standpoint and pass protection. I'm sure they're getting some kinks worked out. It looked really smooth Friday night on the tape that I saw. I'm sure there are plenty of people around him who are more confident and doing a good job."
Wells also deflected a question about Hill's mechanics, saying every quarterback works tirelessly on his throwing motion - from Chuckie Keeton to Peyton Manning.
"That's a constant, daily refining for those guys to stay tight and get better from a technique standpoint. It's very similar to a golf swing in the release, your lower body, it's all timing and rhythm. Kickers, quarterbacks, golfers, those guys are always refining their mechanics. I know Chuckie does. I can't speak for Taysom, but I'm sure he does, too."
Wells, a former gunslinger himself, has a definite soft spot for quarterbacks. But the Aggies also have history to look back on: Hill threw for 24-for-36 last year for 235 yards and the game's only touchdown, also adding 80 yards on the ground. Utah State knows how dangerous he can be when he gets loose.
Hill also had a season-ending knee injury toward the end of last year's match-up. But the Aggies aren't counting on him being a step slower than he was in 2012.
"He can run the ball very well," defensive end B.J. Larsen said. "He's fast, he's athletic, he's strong, he's a good player and we got a little taste of it when we played them last year down in Provo."
Kyle Goonkgoon@sltrib.comTwitter: @kylegoon