Hill preparing for Utah State

With Riley Nelson's status for this Friday's game still unknown, Taysom Hill took all the first-team reps with the offense on Monday. Hill is going forward with the intention of being the starting quarterback come Friday against Utah State.

Last week against Hawaii, true freshman quarterback Taysom Hill won his first college start.

"Yeah, it was just so much fun and it's any kid's childhood dream, and it was definitely one of my dreams, to come to a Division I college football program and win," said Hill. "You know, fortunately for me I was able to come in and do that as a freshman."

Next up are the Aggies of Utah State. With quarterback Riley Nelson still not cleared to play, Hill has been getting a lot of reps.

"Yeah, I took every rep for Monday's practice and I plan on being the starting quarterback for Utah State," Hill said. "It was just so much fun playing against Hawaii, and anytime you can come in and play an instate school like Utah State, who has been playing really well, it's going to be a challenge. It's going to be fun and I'm looking forward to it.

"I think Riley is going to do everything he can to play and I feel bad for him because of his injury and situation. We'll see what happens, and I think I'll be the starter unless something happens. You know, that's the plan and my mindset right now."

"I would say Riley's just not healthy, and when you're hurt the way that he was hurt, man, he just wasn't able to be who he needed to be for this football team," said Coach Doman. "When he's ready to be that guy and he's healthy, we'll reevaluate him at that point and get Riley going and get him back into the swing of things."

When will Nelson be ready to go? Coach Doman wasn't quite sure as of Monday, and will wait upon clearance from the doctors.

"Well, I haven't even talked to the doctor yet, but he'll talk to the doctor tonight," said Coach Doman after Monday's practice. "He's been seeing the doctor every day and I'm waiting for the report today, and so we didn't use him much. But he's come out and he's throwing the ball mad and running fast and wanting to prove that he's back to normal, and he looked fine, but I don't know yet until the doctor tells me."

So if Nelson was given the green light to play against Utah State shortly before the game, would it be difficult for him to implement the game plan on such a short notice?

"I don't think so," Coach Doman said. "The game plan is a simple game plan. We're not doing a whole lot of stuff and maybe that's why we're better, but it's a game plan that Riley can execute. In the event that Riley plays, I think he'll execute it well, but it's a script that we need Taysom to execute if he's going to play. So, he took every rep [Monday] and we'll see what the doctors say. It's a short week, so we'll see. We'll make a decision for what's best for the team, and Taysom, Riley and I will lock arms and go."

Meanwhile, Hill is working on developing chemistry with the rest of the first-team offense.

"Anytime you have a new starter coming in you get more reps with the starters," Hill said. "When Riley was able to go, I was getting a lot of the reps with the second- and third-string guys, so I wasn't getting a lot of reps with these guys. That was a little difficult. But last week we watched a lot of film together and various things like that to build chemistry. We're continuing to work on those things out here on the practice field and we'll get better and better."

During the Hawaii game, Nelson was there to support and congratulate Hill on every success. Nelson has been spending extra time working with Hill following practice to make sure he's fully up to speed with the new game plan in preparation for Utah State.

"Riley has been so great to me and we put in some new things during practice and he stayed afterwards and helped me with those by running through them together," Hill said. "Anytime you can have an upperclassman come and support you, it says a lot. It says that he supports you and trusts you and things like that as we get ready for the next game. I'm grateful for Riley."

So what can we expect to see from the Aggie defense come Friday?

"Utah State plays a lot of man coverage as well, but they don't run quite as much man as Hawaii did, but we're going to get very similar looks at times," Hill said. "I think it's helped prepare me for that aspect for sure. Even against Boise State, and in those games that I've been fortunate to play in, it's prepared me. Our coaches give us good looks out here on the practice field and we'll be ready and prepared. I know the team is really excited to host the Aggies."

Developing chemistry with his receivers has been Hill's focus the past week or so. Throwing the ball downfield will be something that he'll look to do more often as he develops his relationship with Cody Hoffman and Ross Apo.

"As far as my arm strength, I under-threw Cody a couple of times last Friday, but I have all the confidence in my ability to throw the football and get it to those guys downfield," said Hill. "As far as the reads and things like that, it just takes a little more time to develop, but it's just one of those things that comes with time. I'm comfortable with the things we have in this week.

"You know, I'll continue to get better as time wears on, but we can do it and I'm comfortable with that. Those guys are good and they continue to want the ball, and I'm going to continue to give it to them. Those guys are playmakers and we need to do a better job of getting them the opportunity to make plays and excel."

Coach Doman likes what he has seen out of Hill.

"I think we have a really good true freshman quarterback that can play football really well," said Coach Doman. "If he continues to progress, he'll be a great quarterback at BYU for the next while. He's got great competition that's really good coming on his heels from other players on this team, which is a great sign with Ammon Olsen, who is running our scout offense.

"He's a way better quarterback than, I think, anyone gives him credit for. He's just smart, but he didn't throw the football enough in high school. He threw it enough but he had to make decisions and it's just volume now, but this guy's going to be able to drop back and throw it just fine."

However, don't expect Hill to automatically change doing what he does really well overnight. Utah State's defense will have to account for his ground game as well.

"Anytime you have a quarterback that can run the way that Riley and I can, it just creates a big problem for the defense, so we're going to play to our strengths and our advantages," said Hill.

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