Provo • When BYU football coach Bronco Mendenhall previewed spring camp two weeks ago, he promised the offense would move at a faster pace, that he would be more involved in it, and that the starting quarterback competition would be wide open.
Well, two out of three isn’t bad.
Taysom Hill in 2012
G Plays Rush Pass Total Avg/G
6 126 336 425 761 126.8
Note » Rush, Pass, Total and Avg/G in yards
Under new offensive coordinator Robert Anae’s direction, the Cougars really are trying to run plays in rapid-fire succession. Mendenhall said he has watched the offense so much that he had yet to call a defensive play and doesn’t intend to.
And sophomore quarterback Taysom Hill is getting at least half the reps, if not more, while the other five QBs in camp — senior Jason Munns, junior Christian Stewart, sophomore Ammon Olsen and freshmen Billy Green and Tanner Mangum — get precious few, if any at all. Munns missed the second week of camp with a concussion.
"I think from Day I it has been open, but as spring has progressed, that’s changed," acknowledged Hill, who suffered a season-ending knee injury the sixth game of the 2012 season, against Utah State, after starting two games in relief of the injured Riley Nelson. "They said they were going to start to give more reps to some guys, and that is what has happened."
Happened to Hill, anyway.
He quarterbacked three of the five possessions in the open-to-the-media portion of practice on Wednesday, all with the first-team offense. It is evident that Anae wanted to make sure Hill had recovered from the knee injury — and he seemingly has — before handing him the keys to the newfangled offense, even if the BYU OC won’t acknowledge it publicly.
"We haven’t named a starter yet, but [Hill] is running a lot of reps with the first team, and doing a really good job," Anae said, when pressed. "I am really pleased."
With top receiver Cody Hoffman missing camp due to offseason shoulder surgery, Hill has rarely thrown the ball deep in the end-of-practice scrimmages, instead dumping the ball off to running backs such as Jamaal Williams, Adam Hine and Michael Alisa. Hill has worn a knee brace, but only for precautionary reasons.
"Technically, I don’t have to wear it right now, but I am getting used to it for the coming season and when we start playing full bore. In August [when fall camp starts], I will definitely be wearing the brace."
Hill said his surgically repaired knee "feels great" and didn’t give him any trouble through the first five practices of camp, but noted he has not really tried to test it yet.
"I am not going full speed," he said. "Maybe if I am breaking a run or something, instinctively, I might open it up like that, but as far as the drill work and stuff like that, I am doing my best to keep it around 80-85 percent."
Whatever the case, the general consensus from Mendenhall, Anae and new quarterbacks coach Jason Beck is that Hill has returned from the injury more quickly than anyone expected.
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