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Ranking the best season by a quarterback in BYU history (29 items)

By , For the Deseret News

Aug. 26, 2014

BYU has been known as a quarterback factory for the better part of four decades, and for good reason. Those four decades have provided some of the best years in school history. They have led BYU to incredible seasons on the grid iron as a team and helped to propel the Cougars into the national spotlight.

Along the way, the great BYU signal callers have received plenty of recognition on both the conference and national level. There have been conference player of the year awards, All-American seasons,Sammy Baugh and Davey O'Brien trophies for the nation's best quarterback and even a Heisman Trophy.

While most of the quarterbacks have done most of the damage through the air, some have also done serious work with their legs. Both skill sets were taken into account when ranking each season as well as team success and individual awards. It is also important to know that while stats played a role in these rankings, it was more important how each player fared in relation to his peers because the game has changed so much.

Here is a look at the best of the best of those seasons.

All rankings in conference and national leaderboards are from Sports-reference.com. All award information, school records and NCAA records are from BYUCougars.com.

1 of 29. Honorable mention: John Beck, 2005

Even though the Cougars struggled to a 6-6 record, Beck had a monster year in 2005. He earned all-Mountain West Conference first-team after he led the league in completion percentage, passing yards, total yards, passing touchdowns and total touchdowns. His numbers were also good enough to place him in the top 10 in the nation in passing yards (fifth), total yards (seventh), passing touchdowns (ninth) and total touchdowns (10th). His most impressive game of the season came in a 51-50 overtime loss to TCU when he completed 30-of-51 passes for 517 yards and five touchdowns.

On the season, he completed 64.5 percent of his passes for 3,709 yards and 27 touchdowns to only 13 interceptions. He also added 61 yards and a pair of scores on the ground.


2 of 29. Honorable mention: Kevin Feterik, 1999

Feterik had his best season in 1999 when he helped lead the Cougars to an 8-4 record and a share of the Mountain West Conference championship. Along the way, he led the conference in completion percentage, passing yards, passing touchdowns, passing efficiency rating, total yards and total touchdowns to earn first-team all-conference honors. Those numbers were good enough to place him in the top 10 in the nation in passing yards (seventh), passing touchdowns (10th) and total yards (ninth). His best game of the season came in the season opening 35-28 win over Washington when he completed 39-of-59 passes for 501 yards and three touchdowns.

On the season, he completed 61.1 percent of his passes for 3,554 yards and 25 touchdowns as well as 15 interceptions.


3 of 29. Honorable mention: Steve Sarkisian, 1995

Sarkisian led BYU to a 9-5 record and a share of the Mountain West Conference championship after a solid showing that earned him second-team all-WAC. Along the way, he finished third in the conference in touchdown passes and passing efficiency rating, as well as first in both completion percentage and passing yards. Those numbers were good enough to place him in the top 10 in the nation in passing efficiency rating (10th), completion percentage (fifth) and passing yards (third). His best game of the year came in a 45-28 win over Fresno State when he completed 31-of-34 passes for 399 yards and three touchdowns.

On the season, he completed 64.9 percent of his passes for 3,437 yards and 20 touchdowns as well as 14 interceptions. He also added two scores on the ground.


4 of 29. Honorable mention: Taysom Hill, 2013

While he didn't have the prototypical season for a BYU signal caller, Hill was dominant on the ground for the 8-5 Cougars. In fact, he set the single season mark for rushing by a BYU quarterback. While he didn't have nearly the same amount of success in the passing game, he improved as the year went on after a slow start. His best game of the season came in a 47-46 win on the road at Houston when he completed 29-of-44 passes for 417 yards and four touchdowns to go along with 128 yards rushing.

On the season, he completed 53.9 percent of his passes for 2,938 yards and 19 touchdowns as well as 14 interceptions. He also added 1,344 yards and 10 scores on 246 carries.


5 of 29. 25. Max Hall, 2007

After John Beck finished his career in style in 2006, Hall picked up right where he left off in 2007. He led the Cougars to an 11-2 record and a Mountain West Conference title and earned first-team all-conference. During his solid sophomore campaign, he led the MWC in passing yards (eighth in the nation), total yards, passing touchdowns and total touchdowns. His most impressive game of the season came in a 55-47 loss to Tulsa when he completed 59.6 percent of his throws for 537 yards and four touchdowns.

For the season, he completed 60.1 percent of his passes for 3,848 yards and 26 touchdowns as well as 12 interceptions.

1. BYUalum
South Jordan, UT,
Aug. 27, 2014

Thanks for the great journey down memory lane with these outstanding quarterbacks at BYU. It brought back many memories. We watched Ty Detmer many times in his glory days and loved his efficiency in passing. We have watched John Beck's spectacular pass dozens of times to Johnny Harlein in the end zone in the last 3 seconds of the Utah game to win that game. Also, the Miracle Bowl of the comeback of Jim McMahon's unbelievable finish in the last minutes of that game in 1980. We loved the spunk and determination of Max Hall and wished he had gone farther in the NFL. It was so fun to see how far Steve Young went in his NFL career and the positive influence he had for the Mormon Church.

Thanks to LaVelle Edwards for initiating the passing game in the first place years ago at BYU and for all the memories in the ensuing seasons and to all these great quarterbacks at BYU.

Good luck to Taysom Hill as he joins the ranks of these great players. I hope he has a great season as he is a great young man and quarterback and a wonderful leader of this team.

Go Cougars!

2. eastcoastcoug
Danbury, CT,
Aug. 27, 2014

Two years stand out as the best:

1984 for Bosco and 1996 for Sarkisian. Bosco led BYU to a great win on the road vs. a good Pitt team that the year before had Marino and went to the Orange Bowl. He played an amazing game vs. Michigan when everything was on the line and came back from injury. I was there in the Holiday Bowl.

Sarkisian also played an amazing season despite a season opening loss to UW. He led the team to their biggest bowl victory ever vs. a very good KSU team.

Young also had a great year in 1983 beating UCLA and started a 24 game win streak that continued into Bosco's '84 season. The loss to Baylor wasn't Young's fault as we had no defense that game.

I don't give as much weight to the wins over weak WAC teams including Utah, Wyoming or SDSU. What matters is wins vs. quality nationally ranked programs. It would be nice if we started winning again vs. top teams. That will be the difference in the end.

3. Mike W
Syracuse, UT,
Aug. 27, 2014

I rarely agree with these lists, but in this case I think they got it just about spot-on, at least the top 3, which to me stand out above the others. I still contend that Detmer's win over Miami is the biggest in the school's history.

4. Jared from CT
SOUTHBURY, CT,
Aug. 27, 2014

In front of every great QB is a great O line. I'm a bit biased, having played offensive guard in high school, but I'll bet that every time a BYU QB has had a stellar season, he's had a great offensive line. Sounds like this year's O line might be good, if so, Taysom Hill and the Cougars will have a great season. If not, we're looking at another mediocre year.

5. birwin
Herrmian, UT,
Aug. 27, 2014

Agree with Jared... Sometimes you can have such a good offensive line that a Ketchup Bottle playing quarterback will look good. On the other hand, a poor O-Line can crush your team. Nobody can run and nobody can pass when defenders are in your face.