I love Taysom Hill. A lot. But if he thinks that tomorrow’s bowl game against the University of Washington is just another game, he’s got another thing coming. I’m referring to Hill’s comments, reported by Jeff Call at Deseret News, that Hill is treating this game like every other game:
Especially being an independent, we’re playing different conferences all the time, so there’s not that much difference for myself. I’m treating this just like any other game. I want (to win) it just like I wanted the other ones. My preparation will be the same.
Look, I get why he said it. Head coach Bronco Mendenhall, who has a 6-2 record in bowl games at BYU, has a steady-as-you-go philosophy to the postseason, and he drills this consistency-based approach into his players’ heads. And you don’t want to hype up the expectations too much by telling the press that you want this game more than the others. But make no mistake; this game means a lot to this BYU football program. In a season that has seen a lot of disappointments, a win against a decent PAC-12 team would be a much-needed balm for the battered and bruised BYU fans. Mendenhall might have already deemed this season a success, but the fans–including this one–have not. Indeed, even a win against UW might not convince the most skeptical of fans. But it would help. More importantly, a win against good competition would set up the returnering players on this young team for success next year. The confidence that comes with a win against a good PAC-12 team could do wonders for this team going into the offseason. All four losses were painful in their own way, and finishing strong would be a huge psychological lift for young stars like Hill and running back Jamaal Williams going into next season. With so many young players returning, a win on Friday could also set the Cougars up for some preseason attention in 2014. Despite having a new quarterback, new(ish) offensive coordinator, and inexperienced offensive line, BYU’s national prominence earned it some preseason votes coming into the 2013 season, so finishing 2013 strong could boost next year’s potential significantly. Finally, these senior deserve a win. Cody Hoffman and Kyle Van Noy. Enough said. I’m not ready to call the Fight Hunger Bowl a must-win game for BYU, but a win would go a long way to helping the fans and returning players while propelling the team to a good start in 2014. So, Taysom, I understand that you said what you had to say, but you were wrong. This isn’t just any other game.