Taysom Hill’s long and storied BYU career reached an abrupt conclusion after suffering an injury in the fourth quarter against — who else? — Utah State.
With only 14:33 remaining in the Cougars’ final regular season game, Hill faked a handoff, beat a defensive lineman to the corner and attempted to hurdle Utah State safety Gage Ferguson. The defender’s helmet clipped Hill’s thigh, which sent him crashing back to earth at the one-yard line. Hill landed awkwardly on his left arm, spraining his elbow.
It was the third time Hill’s season ended prematurely from an injury inflicted by a Utah State defender, and fourth overall.
Hill’s career will be remembered for the litany of injuries he so unfortunately sustained, but that shouldn’t define his legacy at BYU. His play on the field deserves more than that. To put into perspective Hill’s roller coaster career, consider that in just 37 total games (only 33 as a starter), Hill:
- Ran for the fifth-most rushing yards (2,815) in program history.
- Ran for the fifth-most rushing touchdowns (32) in program history.
- Piled up the fourth-most total yards (9,744) in program history.
- Scored the fifth-most touchdowns (75) in program history.
And the numbers still fail to capture how truly exciting he was to watch as a the Cougars’ signal caller. So in an attempt to provide a fitting tribute to his spectacular career, here’s my list of Taysom Hill’s top 10 game performances. (*Note: FCS games excluded).
10. Oct. 8, 2016 at Michigan State
Passing: 18 of 27, 138 yards, one touchdown
Rushing: 8 carries, 47 yards, one touchdown
This wasn’t the flashiest performance of Hill’s career, but it is one of his most efficient. Hill did exactly was needed in the 31-14 upset of the Spartans in East Lansing.
Hill completed 18 of 27 passes for 138 yards, one touchdown, no interceptions, and added 47 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
Unpacking the game further reveals Hill was responsible for 14 of the Cougars 24 first downs. On third and fourth down situations, Hill combined to complete 9 of 12 passes for seven conversions through the air; he also managed to move the chains twice with his legs on third down.
9. Sept. 20, 2014 vs. Virginia
Passing: 13 of 23, 187 yards, two touchdowns
Rushing: 17 carries, 72 yards, one touchdown
Hill completed 13 of 23 for 187 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions and ran for 72 yards and a touchdown against the Cavaliers in 2014.
Hill’s fourth quarter scramble and toss to Mitchell Juergens for a 50-yard touchdown proved to be the dagger in the Cougars 41-33 win.
8. Sept. 5, 2015 at Nebraska
Passing: 21 of 34, 268 yards, one touchdown, one interception
Rushing: 9 carries, 72 yards, two touchdowns
It’s easy to overlook Hill’s performance against Nebraska due to the incredible late-game heroics of replacement quarterback Tanner Mangum.
But Hill did play exceptional in the 2015 season opener against the Huskers, completing 21 of 34 passes for 268 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He also rushed for 72 yards and two touchdowns on just nine attempts through a little more than three quarters of play.
What’s truly amazing, however, is how well Hill performed even after suffering a lisfranc injury in his right foot early in the second quarter; the injury ultimately ended his season after he exited the game in the fourth.
7. Oct. 4, 2013 at Utah State
Passing: 17 of 31, 278 yards, three touchdowns, one interception
Rushing: 9 carries, 14 yards
It wasn’t Hill’s legs — he only ran for 14 yards on nine attempts — but his arm that got the job done against Utah State in 2013.
Hill completed 17 of 31 passes for 278 yards, three touchdowns and an interception in the 31-14 upset of the Aggies in Logan. All of his touchdown passes went to sophomore wide receiver Mitch Matthews, who scored on receptions of 30, 6, and 43 yards.
As it turns out, the 2013 edition of the battle for the Old Wagon Wheel was the only one Hill would complete without suffering injury.
6. Oct. 19, 2013 at Houston
Passing: 29 of 44, 417 yards, four touchdowns, three interceptions
Rushing: 34 carries, 128 yards
Hill’s highest career output of passing yards, passing touchdowns, and total yards came in the Cougars come-from-behind win over Houston in 2013.
Hill completed 29-of-44 passes for 417 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions while also churning out 128 yards on 34 carries.
Hill found receiver Skyler Ridley on a back-shoulder fade for the game-winning, 11-yard touchdown pass with 1:08 remaining in the game.
5. Nov. 30, 2013 at Nevada
Passing: 14 of 18, 98 yards, two touchdowns
Rushing: 26 carries, 154 yards, one touchdown
Hill ran more times than he attempted to pass, and the Cougars needed it against a pesky Wolfpack team. Hill ran for 154 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries, but was also efficient throwing the ball; Hill completed 14 of 18 passes for 98 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.
4. Oct. 25, 2013 vs. Boise State
Passing: 27 of 41, 339 yards, three touchdowns
Rushing: 18 carries, 69 yards, one touchdown
Hill handed the Broncos their first-ever loss to a team from Utah in what was a spectacular passing and rushing performance. Hill finished the night completing 27 of 41 passes for 339 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions and ran for 97 yards and two touchdowns on just 12 rushing attempts.
3. Aug. 29, 2014 at UConn
Passing: 28 of 36, 308 yards, three touchdowns
Rushing: 12 carries, 97 yards, two touchdowns
Hill participated in every Cougar touchdown in the 2014 season opener against UConn. He ended the night completing 28 of 36 passes for 308 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. On the ground, Hill racked up 97 yards and two touchdowns on just 12 carriers.
2. Sept. 6, 2014 at Texas
Passing: 18 of 28, 181 yards, one interception
Rushing: 24 carries, 99 yards, three touchdowns
Let’s take this moment to commemorate the Longhorn safety Hill jumped over en route to the end zone in 2014.
Here’s the thing: I would argue Hill’s best play of this game technically never happened. With 6:06 in the first quarter, Hill took the snap, evaded pressure, threw a Texas safety down on an absolutely savage stiffarm, and then outran another defensive back in the final 30 yards to the end zone. The play was called back on a phantom holding call on wide receiver Jordan Leslie at the top of the play (if you watch the replay, it appears it was Leslie who was yanked to the ground on the play).
Hill completed 18 of 28 passes for 181 yards, no touchdowns, and one interception. But the majority of this game’s attention rightly focuses on his running game, which included 99 yards and three touchdowns.
1. Sept. 7, 2013 vs. Texas
Passing: 9 of 26, 129 yards, one interception
Rushing: 17 carries, 259 yards, three touchdowns
Hill’s top performance undoubtedly came in 2013 at home against a nationally ranked Texas Longhorns team.
Hill may have only completed 9 of 26 passes for 129 yards, no touchdowns and an interception. But his passing isn’t what he’s remembered for in this game. On just 17 attempts, Hill averaged 15.2 yards per carry and finished the game with 259 rushing yards and three touchdowns.