Taysom Hill poised for big season at BYU

Published 06/24 2014 08:53PM

Updated 06/24 2014 10:47PM

PROVO, Utah (ABC 4 Sports) - If BYU is hoping to get back to a 10-win season and a top-25 ranking, then quarterback Taysom Hill is going to have to live up to all the preseason hype.

Hill is already being mentioned as a Heisman Trophy candidate, but instead of getting caught up in all the attention, Hill is taking it in stride.

"It's a fun thing to be honored in that way," Hill said. "The thing that I've kind of said is that it's June. If these things are still going on in October, then that's fun. I'm aware there a lot of things that need to take place from now until the season starts, so I do my best not to worry about that stuff."

Hill is coming off a monster statistical season in 2013. While he's not exactly the second coming of Ty Detmer, Hill finished with 4,282 total yards and 29 combined touchdowns. But most of the damage was done with his legs. Hill was BYU's leading rusher with 1,344 yards, the third highest total in school history. Did he actually run too much?

"Every team we played would say he ran too much," said offensive coordinator Robert Anae. "I kind of like to have our best guy do his best stuff."

The question is will Hill stay healthy running that much? He must improve his accuracy throwing the ball to take the pressure off the running game. Hill completed just 54 percent of his passes a season ago and threw 14 interceptions. He said he had difficulty adjusting to Anae's up-tempo system.

"Being in the system for the first time last year, it was difficult to get used to with your reads, recognizing the defensive coverage and those things going so fast," Hill said. "But now, I feel like I know it all. I've reached out to [former BYU quarterback] John Beck. I've worked out with John, learned the ins and outs of my throwing mechanics and what I did well and what things I needed to improve on."

The Cougars are already happy with Hill's progress and hope he continues into fall camp.

"We exceeded our completion percentage this spring," Anae said. "As a result, I do believe next year we'll be a much better passing team."

"Quarterbacks are judged on if his team wins," said head coach Bronco Mendenhall. "His improvement as a passer was apparent all the way through the season. He runs like crazy, he's a great leader and ultimately he will be judged, much like the head coach, if you win football games."

Mendenhall and Hill won just eight games last season, and while the team moved the ball between the 20's with relative ease, the Cougars struggled in the red zone, scoring touchdowns just 48 percent of the time.

"We need to be more efficient when we get down to the goal line," Hill said. "With knowing the system better, I think we can improve in that area this season."

Despite losing all-time leading receiver Cody Hoffman to the NFL, with a new crop of receivers that includes Nick Kurtz, Jordan Leslie and Devon Blackmon, Hill envisions a special season.

"As I look down our schedule," Hill said, "I'm not trying to diminish any of these teams that we're playing. But I don't think there's a game on our schedule that we can't win."

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