Provo • A BYU football spokesperson acknowledged Saturday that freshman quarterback Taysom Hill suffered a knee injury in his final running play in Friday’s 6-3 win over Utah State, but offered no details regarding the extent of the injury.
"Taysom sustained a knee injury in Friday’s game," said BYU’s Brett Pyne in a statement after receiving media inquiries regarding Hill’s status. "The extent of his injury and related status is currently being evaluated. Any updates will be provided Monday."
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Indications are that Hill may need knee surgery, possibly as early as Tuesday.
Meanwhile, a source told The Salt Lake Tribune that senior quarterback Riley Nelson, who has missed the last two games with a sore back, told several people Saturday night at a church meeting that he will "definitely play" next Saturday when the Cougars (4-2) play host to No. 14-ranked Oregon State at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
Hill was filling in for Nelson, who sat out a second straight game after injuring his back in the second game of the season against Weber State. Nelson played in losses to Utah and Boise State before BYU coaches acknowledged publicly that he had a sore back.
Hill apparently injured his leg on his 19th and final official carry of the game, a 4-yard run up the middle. He limped away after the play and seemed to be favoring his left leg as the Cougars huddled.
At one point he grasped his helmet with both hands and bowed his head, as if he couldn’t believe what had just happened.
Hill took a knee the last two plays of the game, which don’t count as official carries, but many fans left wondering why he wasn’t told to take a knee on the first-down play because Utah State had just one timeout remaining, which it took after his 4-yard run.
On television replays, it appears that Mendenhall might have been trying to call time out just seconds before Hill made the quarterback draw up the middle, the play in which he was injured.
Hill didn’t seem to be in much pain at the postgame news conference, and said he was "fine" with carrying the ball that much. But coach Bronco Mendenhall acknowledged that 19 carries for a BYU quarterback were "too many" when he spoke to the media after the game.
"And we have learned that lesson," Mendenhall said, perhaps not knowing at the time of the severity of Hill’s injury. "Man, we learned it with Riley [Nelson]. … So eventually that will balance out. But this is just the beginning of Taysom’s career, so I think it is a little bit out of balance, yes."
Although he didn’t state it as strongly as he did after the Cougars beat Hawaii on Sept. 28, Mendenhall also said Friday that Nelson will get the starting job back when he’s healthy.
"We will find a role [for Hill]. I mean, certainly, it is not going to go [back] to just Riley taking every snap," Mendenhall said. "If you remember, even when Riley was a starter, we had packages for Taysom coming in. We will just look hard now at how the two complement each other."
Whatever Nelson’s situation is, and whether Hill is injured or not, the native of Pocatello, Idaho, who signed with Stanford out of high school before a church mission will clearly be the starter next season. He earned that with his poise and performance against the Aggies.
Still, Mendenhall said he was "very close" to starting Nelson against USU.
"[Nelson] could have played tonight, but I didn’t think he was all the way ready, or healthy, and I didn’t want to risk it, even against a good opponent," Mendenhall said. "… So yeah, it was close, and ultimately I had to make that call."
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