The play was typical Taysom Hill. A nice scramble that ended up in the end-zone for the Cougars. The celebration was muted, however, when a flag flew and it appeared that the play was being called back.
After the refs announced a penalty on BYU that was actually on Nebraska, the Cougars had six points -- and it will most likely be the last touchdown we will see from Hill. As diagnosed after the game, Hill ended his season, and probably his career, after suffering a Lisfranc injury to his right foot.
Greg Wrubell said it best in the post game when he said that this injury basically takes away the whole support system of the foot. This is when the injury is believed to have happened, thanks to video from Dave Noriega:
Without question the leadership, moxie and play-making abilities of Hill will be missed. His, dare I say "Grit," led the team to wins that would have otherwise been elusive. He pumped up his teammates and led them by example. The fans adored him, the players followed him, and coaches will miss him. In fact, Tom Holmoe and Chad Lewis both tweeted about him:
By far, my favorite player EVER to wear Cougar Blue... Taysom Hill!— Tom Holmoe (@TomHolmoe) September 5, 2015
As happy as I am for Tanner and this great BYU team, my heart is broken for Taysom. He is a warrior. pic.twitter.com/29QxFxTLZ7— Chad Lewis (@18clew89) September 6, 2015
Chad Lewis would know: A Lisfranc injury ended up being what ended the pro-bowl tight end's career.
It stinks, and we'll miss Taysom.
However, the BYU Cougars still have 11 games left in the regular season. The team has no time to lament the loss of an icon. We saw the results of that last season. Now is the time for the Cougars to look towards Boise State and figure out the best way to put freshman quarterback Tanner Mangum in the best position to succeed -- both immediately and for the future. So what does the future look like for the Cougars without Hill?
We were able to see glimpses of why Mangum was a heralded recruit and co-MVP of the Elite 11 with Jameis Winston. Mangum stepped up and threw 7-for-11 for 111 yards and the game-winning TD. Some of those yards came the first time Hill went to the locker room, completing a big first down pass on a drive that ended in points.
In addition to the efficient passing, Mangum also added five rushes for 26 yards. The way Mangum scrambled to buy time or gain yards looked crazy similar to John Beck. The #12 on the jersey didn't help. Mangum showed an uncanny ability to buy time and even make a play or two with his feet. He's no Taysom Hill, but BYU seemed set in not asking Hill to run all over the place anyway.
I would expect the play calling to be similar to what Coach Anae did last year when Christian Stewart took over for an injured Hill. This involved a return to the air attack with an occasional quarterback run called. In this scenario, the Cougars will need the running backs and offensive line to step up their game in order to keep the defense honest. If they can help establish the run game, Mangum should be fine and may in fact shine.
Anae showed last season he can do just fine calling plays for a gunslinger. But a little help from the run game would be nice.
With Mangum is the clear starter, true freshman Beau Hoge moves into the back-up role. True freshman walk on Koy Detmer, Jr. is the presumed third-string quarterback. This could change with sophomore McCoy Hill back on campus and starting to practice with the team. However, it isn't likely he will move up past third string in the near future.
BYU got lucky last season after Hill went down. Christian Stewart not only proved himself very capable, but also stayed healthy for the remainder of the season. We should hope the same for Hill. Mangum might be a redshirt freshman, but he's about four years older than his now-backup Hoge. Hoge is talented, no doubt, but very green as a QB. Him getting tons of reps this season would be a bad sign for the team's success, so let's hope he mostly has his day against Wagner.
The loss of Hill is a hit to the offense, and to the psyche of the team. Last season, it seemed (and players and coaches later said) losing Hill was a proverbial gut-punch to the entire team, needing weeks to recover. This time, we should hope it doesn't derail the season for the Cougars. Having been through it before, the team seems much better prepared mentally for the loss. It doesn't make it stink any less, but I'm sure none of them enjoyed losing four straight games last season and remember what that felt like, too.
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Will it be all roses? Probably not. But Mangum appears capable, and BYU has a litany of receivers he can throw to. If the run game can help Mangum transition, we may still see plenty of fun, winning football ahead of us.