As the Arizona Wildcats head into true game prep for the opener against the BYU Cougars, many questions remain unanswered about BYU after bringing in an entirely new offensive coaching staff and a new head coach.
But one thing we do know now. Taysom Hill will be the Cougars’ starting quarterback after winning the camp battle between himself and Tanner Mangum:
Taysom hill is BYU's starter— Jay Drew (@drewjay) August 23, 2016
Kalani said Hill is starting QB cuz he won the spot, earned it with play— Jay Drew (@drewjay) August 23, 2016
Ty Detmer said Tanner mangum handled decision well— Jay Drew (@drewjay) August 23, 2016
Oddly enough, Rich Rodriguez had just talked about both of BYU’s quarterbacks earlier in the day on Tuesday after Arizona’s first non-camp practice.
“They’re both really good players,” the Wildcats’ head coach stated. “Obviously Taysom Hill is a great threat running, but so is Tanner. So we’ll prepare for both of ‘em, but it’s kinda hard to prepare for what they’re gonna do because you don’t have any idea what their schemes are.”
“Like I said, there’s a lot of question marks that we’re going to have to figure out pretty soon.”
Hill, who went to Highland High School in Pocatello, Idaho, was recruited by Arizona when he was coming out of high school. His brother Jordan actually played defensive tackle at ASU.
The now 26-year-old Hill played in one game last year, where he suffered a season-ending Lisfranc injury against Nebraska. His recovery from that injury has been a long process, as detailed in this wonderful piece by Joan Niesen.
Though this will be his fifth year at BYU, Hill has lasted an entire season just once, playing 13 games in 2013. In 2012, he suffered a season-ending knee injury after six games, two of which were starts. 2014 was ended by a broken leg and ligament tear against Utah State in the fifth game of the season, and of course 2015 was the Lisfranc injury in the team’s opener.
When healthy, Taysom Hill is a dangerous offensive weapon, especially with his ability to run the football. In 25 career games at BYU, he has 4,606 passing yards and 2,212 rushing yards. He also has 24 rushing TDs compared to his 31 passing TDs and 20 INTs.
On the flip side, Mangum came in for Hill last year against Nebraska and immediately made his mark, connecting on a Hail Mary pass to win the game (there’s a lego version of it now). He kept that Hail Mary per game pace going the next week when he did the same thing to Boise State.
Mangum finished the season with a completion percentage just under 60%, threw 23 TDs and just 10 INTs. He is not a rushing threat at all though, unable to cancel out his sack yardage over the course of the year.
Both of these quarterbacks present unique challenges for Arizona’s new-look defense. With Hill starting, Marcel Yates and his staff can concentrate on stopping a more mobile quarterback. However, I wouldn’t be surprised to see both of these teams use two quarterbacks in this game if their offense isn’t moving up and down the field.