Loyal Cougars

Dynamic Duo: Taysom Hill, Jamaal Williams pacing toward greatness

While seniors Cody Hoffman and Kyle Van Noy are pacing to leave BYU with several all-time school records in their list of accolades, a few youngsters were thrust into action due to injury in 2012 and are on record pace themselves.

Is writing about a pair of sophomores to break school records a bit Fall Camp National Championship-ish? Probably. But we’re all in with Dr. Robert Anae IV — we go fast and go hard.

When Taysom Hill and Jamaal Williams leave BYU, we may very well talk about them as the best rushing duo in BYU history. It will be like how Eminem and Dr. Dre dominated mainstream rap from 1999-2002. (Can I use that reference here?)

(And any of you have any anti-curse rituals?)

In 2001, Cougar fans were taken on a ride when Brandon Doman and Luke Staley (and a well-seasoned offensive line) teamed up for some unlikely BYU run game prowess — which culminated in Staley winning the Doak Walker Award given to the nation’s best running back.

Aside from that, fans aren’t used to watching a QB/RB combination dominate the run game in Provo, but with Anae’s up-tempo, zone-read run game and Hill’s fleetness of foot, we may all be in for quite a treat. And hopefully for three seasons, too, something we didn’t get to see with Doman-Staley.

The true freshman Williams (HE’S ONLY 17 YOU GUYS?!? -Rod Gilmore) was thrust into major playing time when Michael Alisa broke his arm early in the week five contest against Hawaii. Coincidentally, that game was also the first start for Hill (HE’S LIKE WAY MATURE FOR A FRESHMAN YOU GUYS SINCE HE TOOK A MISSION TRIP -Rod Gilmore).

The two combined to run roughshod on Hawaii’s defense, teaming up for 298 yards and three touchdowns — splitting the workload evenly with Williams carrying 15 times for 155 yards and Hill taking 15 carries for 143 yards. The next week, the duo added 151 yards on 36 carries before Hill’s season was infamously ended at the end of the game.

And that’s it. We’ve seen Hill and Williams together for two games — one against a bad defense, one against a good defense — and they combined for 453 rushing yards.

Williams remained in action, later hitting the 100+ yard mark in consecutive games against Georgia Tech and Idaho and ending the season with 775 rushing yards.

Simple math tells us Williams needs 2,681 yards to pass Harvey Unga as BYU’s all-time leading rusher — which boils down to 894 in each of his next three seasons. Doable? Williams seems the durable type, but even if he has to sit for three games per season (we’re assuming bowl appearances around here), that’s still only an 89.4 yards-per-game average. If Williams ends up being the Karl Malone of college football, he would only need 69 yards per game.

In a scenario where Williams is done after his junior year — which was the case with both Staley and Unga — Williams would need to hit 1,341 in the next two seasons. That’s a healthy, ambitious average of 103 yards per game, if healthy. In perspective, Staley rushed for 1,582 yards in his award-winning junior season, employing an otherworldly 8.1 yards per carry to get there.

There are, of course, a TON of variables to consider when talking about Williams’s pace for chart-topping greatness. Health is going to be the biggest factor, with ability of the offensive line playing a key role as well. But if Williams sticks through his senior year, it’s very conceivable that @jswaggdaddy will claim BYU’s rushing record.

Williams also ran in 12 touchdowns as a freshman — needing 10 per season more to surpass Staley’s top mark of 41. Doable? Not easy, but I’d say so.

Hill’s path to being BYU’s all-time best rushing QB seems to be already paved, especially with a shift to a zone-read run game. Hill played in barely 2.5 games as a freshman before getting injured, finishing with 336 net rushing yards. Even if he were to duplicate his abruptly-ended freshman season three more times, he would hit 1,344 yards, still surpassing Virgil Carter as BYU’s all-time yard-gaining running QB by 120 yards.

Simply put: with any kind of health whatsoever, Taysom Hill will top BYU’s list of rushing quarterbacks. Such a career would land him at #21 on the overall rushing list, too, just behind Marcus Whalen and ahead of current running-backs coach Mark Atuaia.

Chart-topping dominance, here we come.


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  1. Gorum the Old

    August 27, 2013 at 8:29 am

    While I like Hill’s and Williams’ potential, that is all it is right now, potential. Their are also serious question marks about aspect of their game they have to answer.

    Last year Hill ran over a bad Hawai’i defense who was down to their 4th string DT. However, in his lone start against a decent defence, he only lead the Cougar offense to six points. Can he move the ball consistently against a team that isn’t a WAC Cellar Dweller? I think so, but he hasn’t done it yet.

    Williams also had his highs and lows. He ran all over a depleated Hawai’i teams and a pathetic Idaho squad, but he had his fair share of less than stellar outings.

    vs USU, 4.2ypc, not bad, but nothing to write home about.
    vs Oregon St. 2.4ypc.
    vs Notre Dame 4.6 ypc, potentially his most impressive effort
    vs Georgie Tech 3.8ypc
    vs SJSU 4.1 ypc
    vs NMSU 3.3 ypc
    vs SDSU 2.1 ypc

    Not exacly awe inspiring. I recognize that he ran behind a bad offensive line and that he was only 17 at the time, but I need to see more before I can take him for more than a decent starter.

    Harvey Unga had a sensational freshman year (1882 total yards and 17 TD), but never equalled again his yardage and TD totals from that initial year. How much will Williams improve?

    In Micheal Alisa’s first year as a RB he averaged 5.4 ypc and a run for over 30 yards every 32 carries. the last person to better such numbers was Doak Walker Award winner Luke Staley. Yet injury sidelined him for almost a year and forced him into a back up role.

    I think Williams will improve with experience and improved lineplay, but how much remains to be seen.

    • Brett Hein

      August 27, 2013 at 10:33 am

      Understood. I’d say behind that line, though, every yard Williams earned was impressive. 🙂

      • Gorum the Old

        August 27, 2013 at 11:17 am

        That line, especially between the tackles was pretty bad. Ability wise, this year’s line probably isn’t any better, but the blocking scheme better fits the personel. I think that will make a big difference and the Cougars will mount a much improved rushing attack.

  2. Ron

    August 27, 2013 at 12:05 pm

    I tend to temper my expectations so I don’t fly off the handle mid-season like many BYU fans. True, Williams has the chance to break Unga’s records IF he remains healthy the next 3 years–but Williams is no Luke Staley. Staley was faster–a legitimate 4.5 forty, and bigger–about 240 pounds. We also don’t know enough about Hill to say he will be great; even Riley looked brilliant before he became the full-time starter. What I hope, is that Hill will minimize sophomore mistakes and simply manage the offense by delivering the ball and not trying to do too much–allow his receivers and backs to carry the load. I hope Hill rarely needs to run so he can last the whole season.
    We should not expect a pair of sophomores to be All-American quality just yet.

  3. Ron

    August 27, 2013 at 12:34 pm

    BTW, nice site and nice article. I’m a first-time visitor.