Notebook: Nothing surprises Wyoming anymore when it comes to Brian Hill

October 29, 2016

LARAMIE, Wyo. — At this point, there are very few things Brian Hill could do that would surprise his teammates.

The Cowboys’ all-time leading rusher has accomplished enough in his three years at Wyoming that there’s not much that would elicit a double-take.

Even a three-touchdown, 289-yard, stomach bug-addled performance against Nevada.

“That just speaks for his talent, his level of competition that he has for the game,” receiver Austin Conway said after the game. “Brian’s just a beast. He’s an absolute beast.”

Not all his teammates knew he was vomiting during the game, but the fact that Hill could battle through dehydration, nausea and cramps to produce more than 300 yards of total offense wasn’t hard for them to believe.

“That’s Brian Hill for you, though,” quarterback Josh Allen said. “This dude’s not going to quit. He’s not going to be taken down by one person. That’s just the type of guy he is.”

The run that gave him 289 yards, passing his previous best of 281, was a 39-yard run that would have been much shorter if he had not run one player over and dragged another five for 10 yards. It helped set up Wyoming’s final touchdown of the night.

“That’s just a signature run for him,” Conway said. “Nothing new. We expect that from Brian. We expect greatness.”

Added Allen: “It was straight weight room. That guy tries to come in and take Brian’s head off. Bad decision. That’s all I can say about that one.”

While Allen is no longer surprised by Hill’s exploits, that doesn’t mean he can’t enjoy them.

“Coach is probably going to rip me, because I wasn’t finishing out my fakes, but as soon as I hand the ball off to him, I just want to look at him run,” he said. “I do. He’s a scary guy to tackle. You can ask him, there are some of their players that tried to tackle him that probably shouldn’t have tried, because they got embarrassed.

“That’s what he does to people. He’s a big dude, he’s an animal, he’s relentless, and he just wants it more than everybody else.”

Hill finished the game second in the nation with 1,010 rushing yards and tied for fifth with 11 rushing touchdowns.

Conway joked after the game that Hill’s performance was reminiscent of Michael Jordan’s “flu game” in the 1997 NBA Finals.

“I’m still waiting on the call from MJ,” Hill said. “He probably just hasn’t found my number yet. His people have got to get to my people.”

Good company

Despite leading every player in the country but one in rushing yards, Hill is not the leading running back in the Mountain West. That designation belongs to San Diego State’s Donnel Pumphrey, the only other back in the nation with 1,000-plus yards at 1,246.

In fact, four of the country’s 10 leading rushers hail from the Mountain West: Pumphrey, Hill, Boise State’s Jeremy McNichols (sixth, 915 rushing yards) and Nevada’s James Butler (10th, 895).

Butler ran for 73 yards and two touchdowns against Wyoming, and McNichols had 140 rushing yards and a touchdown in a win against BYU.

“Good week for the MW Runningbacks,” Pumphrey tweeted Sunday. “Keep Pushing me B.Hill & J. McNichols.”

The stable of backs has taken a toll on the conference’s defenses. Entering the weekend, four of the country’s 12 worst rush defenses could be found in the Mountain West.