Knee injury shelves BYU quarterback Hill for year
By LYNN DeBRUIN
AP Sports Writer
PROVO, Utah (AP) BYU freshman quarterback Taysom Hill will have surgery on his left knee and will miss the rest of the season with a lateral collateral injury suffered on his final carry in Friday night's 6-3 win over Utah State.
Coach Bronco Mendenhall announced the injury after practice Monday as the team geared up to play No. 10 Oregon State, which will be without starting QB Sean Mannion because of knee surgery.
BYU senior Riley Nelson said Monday he is ready, pain-free and will start against the Beavers after missing two games with what he called "back fractures."
"My heart goes out to (Hill)," Nelson said. "Season-ending injuries are tough. I've experienced those before. They're hard to get over but first and foremost it's a big blow to our team. He's a playmaker and one of our best offensive weapons. It leaves a hole in our offense."
Hill passed for 425 yards this season and rushed for 336, with 8 TDs.
His injury occurred on a 4-yard run - even though coaches were trying to get him to take a knee with about a minute to play and Utah State down to one timeout.
Mendenhall said Hill received a sign from the sideline that indicated the clock was going and to run the play but looked away as the "victory" signal came in momentarily thereafter.
That meant Hill should have taken a knee on the season-ending play, as he did the next two plays.
"There was miscommunication, and I'm responsible when anything happens when one of my guys gets hurt," Mendenhall said Monday.
BYU trainer Jeff Hurst said Hill took a helmet directly on the left knee and also injured his hamstring. He will have surgery within the week, and recovery will take 4-to-6 months - a shorter period than if he had torn his anterior cruciate ligament.
Hurst said Hill should recover fully, good news for the Cougars (4-2) considering he is BYU's quarterback of the future.
Hurst would not go into Nelson's specific injury but said he looked great Monday.
"He's moving around really well and looked as good as he has since the injury occurred," Hurst said.
"I wouldn't let him play unless I felt very comfortable with him playing."
Can the fiery, competitive Nelson withstand the hits if he tucks the ball and runs?
"I hope so. That's generally what he does," Hurst said. "He should be fine."
Nelson entered the season as BYU's starter, and led the Cougars past Washington State and had a big first half against Weber State. But he didn't play the second half against Weber State because of what coaches said were back spasms.
He played but not well in losses to Utah and No. 24 Boise State, and eventually was yanked in the second half against Boise State in favor of Hill.
Nelson has completed 64 of 109 passes for 754 yards, but has as many touchdowns (5) as interceptions. He has rushed for 238 yards and three TDs.
On Monday, Nelson insisted he would continue to play his style, while being smart,
"I ran when I needed to run when I was playing with fractures to my back. Now that they're healed, I don't expect to be playing any differently," Nelson said without elaborating on the injury.
But he hopes to be smart about it, especially seeing Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III knocked out this weekend on a run.
"If called on to run the ball on a draw or option, I will do that, but the unnecessary hits ... RG III, he didn't have to take that hit down there and there's been example of hits I didn't have to take," Nelson said. "So I'll avoid those moving forward. It's been my goal since Day 1, but it a hard skill to learn."
Otherwise, Nelson said only his conditioning isn't quite where it should be.
"My back feels good, so I'll be able to move freely and there won't be constant pain," Nelson said. "It was at a point where I was feeling it every step, and every throw and every cut and every move. That occupied my mind so much it affected my decision-making and my play and my confidence. That's all gone because I don't feel pain anymore. I'm back to myself."
Updated October 8, 2012