Last season, Riley Nelson joined a group of players with names such as Ty Detmer, Jim McMahon, Austin Collie, Harvey Unga, Jamal Willis, and Cody Hoffman. Now, I know what you are thinking. You’re thinking, “What the heck is he getting at? How could anyone possibly connect Nelson to all those greats?” Well, that’s why I’m here. I’ll tell you how.
Each of these players has shaped the course of BYU history (Hoffman is still doing it as he sits only 18 receptions shy of passing Dennis Pitta and 537 yards and 2 touchdowns from passing Collie as the all-time leader in each of those three categories.) Last season, Nelson had his own defining effect of BYU’s program, albeit a negative one. But, in the course of history, he left his stamp on a program that didn’t need that sort of negativity. I’m not going to rehash the season; we did that enough on this very blog and on many others. I’m not really here to bash on Riley Nelson. He was a pretty bad player, but he was a pretty good dude. I don’t think there was any denying it. He wanted to play, at all costs (who wouldn’t?), and the coaches and trainers allowed it. We all clamored for James Lark, but there had to be something seriously wrong with him that it took a season-ending injury to a freshman back up before he ever sniffed the field. So, its hard to blame Nelson, despite the regrettable season he had.
Sophomore Taysom Hill has a chance to leave his own indelible mark on this program, and all of Cougar Nation is hoping he will. Last week, Hill was named the starter coming out of spring camp and heading into offseason workouts and eventually fall camp. The second year player looks to take the reigns and find success in offensive coordinator Robert Anae’s new “go fast and go hard” offense. Former Anae student, Nate Meikle recently recounted his experience in an Anae offense where the coach preached “Start fast.” Anae was able to find success with that philosophy and reports from camp suggest that while still learning, the offense is finding its way in this high-tempo offense that hopes to run off 90 + offensive snaps per game.
Hill is a confident and talented young man. He had the chops that got him recruited to play for Jim Harbaugh at Stanford prior to serving his mission. He has the arm to make all the throws that fans of BYU expect their quarterback to make. He has the legs to extend plays, keep a defense honest, and just to make things happen. My favorite play of the season last year was watching Hill run away from the Hawaii defense en route to a 68 yard touchdown run into the endzone where I was standing and cheering.
Hill has all the skills he needs and the confidence to tie it all. But he also has the football IQ to know when it makes sense to get that extra yard and when it makes sense to live to play another down (or so we hope.) The skills are there, the confidence is there, and the leadership should be there. Hopefully, it all comes together to push Hill into the annals of BYU history and a program-changing player.
BYU and Arizona just announced a new 3-game series to commence in Phoenix in 2016 and conclude in 2020 in Provo. What are your thoughts on the Home-Home-Neutral aspect of this series and do you like it overall?
Boise State at BYU will happen one day earlier than previously announced . . . though it really comes at no surprise. ESPN announced that the game would air at 6PM on Friday, October 25 in Provo as to play to a national audience.
Don’t forget to watch the NFL draft on Thursday, April 25 at 6 pm and watch where our homeboy Ziggy Ansah gets drafted. If you missed it, check out this article on ESPN about him.