PROVO, Utah (ABC 4 Sports) - BYU freshman quarterback Taysom Hill will undergo surgery to repair a torn lateral collateral ligament in his knee and will miss the remainder of the 2012 season.
Riley Nelson, who missed the last two games with an injured back, will reclaim his job as the starting quarterback Saturday against Oregon State. Hill is expected to be out 4-6 months.
Hill, who also suffered an injured hamstring muscle, was injured on the third to last play of the game against Utah State on a play that should never have been run. Hill was supposed to take a knee in a "victory formation" with about a minute left in the game, but instead kept the ball on a running play, took a helmet to his knee and subsequently got injured.
"It was a miscommunication," said head coach Bronco Mendenhall. "I'm responsible for anything that happens when one of our guys gets hurt. As soon as his eyes went away [from the sideline], everyone was yelling, 'victory, victory, victory,' but he didn't hear it and ran the play. It's really unfortunate. Cleaner communication needs to be done. It's not his fault, it's our fault."
Hill took over the starting job in the second half of the Boise State game and led the Cougars to their only touchdown of the game. He then led a 47-0 blowout victory over Hawaii, before helping the Cougars beat Utah State this past Friday, 6-3 with 235 yards passing and 80 yards rushing on 19 carries.
For the season, Hill is BYU's leading rusher with 336 yards and four touchdowns. Hill completed 42 of 71 passes for 425 yards, four touchdowns and four interceptions.
Mendenhall hopes to have Hill back for spring practice next year.
Nelson, who has thrown for 754 yards and five touchdowns this season, was always going to become the starter again once he was healthy. Mendenhall said that time is now.
"He was close to being ready a week ago," said Mendenhall. "If there is a silver lining, the injury happened when one [quarterback] is going out and one is going back."
"I didn't play hesitant," Nelson said after Monday night's practice. "I took all the hits I needed to take and ran when I needed to run when I was playing with fractures in my back. Now that they're heeled, I don't expect to play any differently."
However, Nelson said he is not 100 percent healthy.
"[I'm] getting there. My conditioning needs to come back, so I'm working in practice, before and after, to bring that back."
James Lark moves into the backup role, with Jason Munns now the third string quarterback.
Like Hill, Nelson is a running quarterback and is prone to injuries like this one. Mendenhall said he may have to look at the offensive system to protect his quarterbacks more.
"It's not a sustainable model when the quarterback carries it 19 times in a game," said Mendenhall. "Especially when our quarterbacks run as hard as they do and aren't trying to avoid contact. They're trying to get every yard possible."
Oregon State is dealing with quarterback issues of its own with starter Sean Mannion out indefinitely with a knee injury.