Pick your poison

Against Houston last Saturday, Taysom Hill became the first quarterback in BYU history to throw for more than 400 yards while rushing for more than 100 in a single game. The offense is beginning to show signs of maturity, and receivers are beginning to mesh with the quarterback as the timing and execution of the passing game becomes more and more apparent.

BYU quarterback Taysom Hill has only started in nine games so far during his college career. In terms of experience, he's still a freshman despite being in his sophomore year. And even though he hasn't played an entire season yet, Hill is doing things that no other BYU quarterback has ever done.

"He's the only quarterback in BYU history to throw for 400 and run for a 100 in the same game," said Coach Mendenhall. "The players and Taysom know what's happening. They're getting better, better, and better. It doesn't mean that you're perfect, but, man, when you're scoring as many points as we did in that game, and moving the ball in a way that we did, I think they're optimistic that you'll get the ball again."

Against Texas, Hill ran for 259 yards – which at the time was the most rushing yards for a quarterback since Vince Young ran for 265 back in 2005 – while passing for 129. Since that game, teams have elected to stack the box with eight to try and stop the run.

"Well, when you have teams worried about Taysom running for 500 yards, you're going to try and stop that first," said Ross Apo. "Usually teams try and stop the run first and they know that Taysom and Jamaal [Williams] and the rest of the guys back there can do some damage, so they focus on trying to stop the run, knowing that we have the capability to do so."

Thus, that forces the Cougar offense to become better and more efficient in the passing game. The passing game is now becoming more defined. Mitch Mathews had his breakout game against Utah State with three touchdowns, and caught four balls for 68 yards against Houston last Saturday.

"When we get our offense to the level where we want it to be, there won't be much anyone can do," said Apo. "We're starting to see the different parts of the offense come together and now it becomes a pick-your-poison kind of a situation. We're seeing how the passing game is starting to develop with the chemistry and timing of the receivers with Taysom. Once we get everything worked out, it's going to be a pick-your-poison situation because teams will either have to stack the box against Taysom and the running backs or drop back into coverage and defend against the pass."

Cody Hoffman was the leading receiver against Houston, but it was the heroics of Skyler Ridley that gave BYU the go-ahead touchdown.

"Well, I think there is better timing and connection between the receivers and Taysom," said Ridley. "The chemistry within the system is becoming more defined and I think a lot of that is because we're feeling more comfortable in the system. It just takes time, but now you're seeing how it's coming together. We still have things we have to work out, but those things will come together with more time."

Meanwhile, Apo rose up to the challenge of man-coverage and beat the Houston Cougars cornerbacks for four catches and two touchdowns.

"It was a really good game for me and I had some family and friends there. It was a lot of fun and a crazy game to be a part of," said Apo. "There were a lot of plays and the ball was flying around everywhere. It was crazy to see how many points were scored going back and forth."

It was the junior receiver's best game since his freshman year.

"I think the reason why I played so well is because of a lot of things," Apo said. "I think for one, my shoulder felt good and wasn't bothering me, so I could just go out there and not have that constantly nagging me or be on my mind. I could just go out and play comfortably.

"The other thing is they played a lot of man coverage or one-on-one coverage. Anytime a team decides to play one-on-one coverage with us, we try and take advantage of that. Our receiving corps across the board can score. Anyone can score in this group and I think we're starting to show that now."

Hill threw for 417 yards and four touchdowns against Houston, with his final touchdown pass coming with about a minute left in the fourth quarter.

"I was confident in our guys," said Hill said about the game-winning drive. "I didn't doubt that we were going to go down and score, and you dream of an opportunity like that as a quarterback to lead your team to a game-winning touchdown like that. Skyler played really well all night and came up really big for us that last drive."

The confidence in the passing game is beginning to immerge, making the Cougar offense more balanced in its attack. That confidence could be seen on the face of Hill during that game-winning drive late in the Houston game. The Cougar offense looks to continue building upon that confidence as the team prepares for the Broncos of Boise State

"Oh yeah, it definitely builds confidence and you build success with success," Apo said. "When you start having that kind of success you want to be a part of it even more. I think we're starting to see more and more guys build confidence in what we're doing because of the results we're having. It's one thing to understand what you're trying to do, but it's a whole different thing when you see the results of what you're doing. The passing part of our offense is getting better and better every week. Taysom is getting much better every week. You just see a big jump every single game from him."


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