It is not often that a team celebrates one of the biggest, and most dramatic wins of a sporting weekend, only to have that euphoria shattered with the news that their leader (and best player) is out for the rest of the season. To have that happen at all is socking, to have it happen on the first weekend of the season is quite simply devastating.
That though is the reality in 2015 for BYU as the joy of their last second Hail Mary victory over Nebraska was tempered with the news that starting quarterback Taysom Hill had been lost for the season with a foot injury.
Hill is no stranger to injury. This is the third time in his four years in Provo that he has finished the season on the sidelines because he has been hurt. The injuries have all been to Hill’s lower body too, with a knee injury ending his 2012 season and a fractured left leg ending his season early in 2014. This year it is a foot fracture which has put the early season Heisman Trophy hopeful on the sidelines for the rest of 2015.
Hill has been diagnosed with a Lisfranc fracture of his foot. He was hurt on a 21-yard touchdown run when he planted his right foot at just the wrong angle. Initially Hill seemed fine as he was able to push off of the cut and cruise into the end zone for the score. Looking at the replay however Hill immediately puts on the breaks after he scored – a surefire clue that he was feeling something wrong with his body. Hill came out to try to continue, but he was obviously in distress as he was not able to put any weight on the injured foot. He was eventually replaced for good by backup Tanner Mangum after a hit to the injured foot by Nebraska linebacker Josh Banderas, in the fourth quarter.
A Lisfranc fracture is a fracture of the bones in the middle of the foot. While the injury is often mistaken for a simple sprain of the foot, it is not something that can be just walked off. A Lisfranc fracture is actually a severe injury which can take months to heal and often requires surgery in order for the bones to heal in the correct alignment. The middle of the foot is susceptible to such a fracture because the small bones which comprise this part of the body are not well protected and a twisting fall or simple hard plant can stress the bones or tear the ligaments.
Hill would most likely be eligible for a medical hardship and therefore eligible for a sixth season, if he wants to pursue that avenue. Hill’s greatest asset on the field is his ability to make superstar plays when the pocket breaks down, as he has a unique blend of size and speed. While it is perfectly reasonable to expect him to fully recover from this Lisfranc injury given time, the mental beat down of so many season ending injuries is hard to predict. By all accounts he is a smart young man with a bright future in the financial sector. Given his intellect, he may decide this third season ending injury is enough to get him out of football for good.
For this year at least, BYU will have to turn to Mangum and tinker with the offense to get the best use out of his skill set. The silver lining for the team is that the injury happened so early in the season and because of the timing an offensive revision should be viable. With more and more offenses moving to running quarterbacks it will be interesting to see just how often Lisfranc, and other lower body injuries, show up in the NFL and the college game going forward.