June 30, 2016
PROVO — As expected, there were no earth-shattering announcements during BYU’s annual football media day on Thursday, and no real answers yet to the questions most BYU fans are asking.
Probably at the top of that list is which quarterback will be taking the snaps when the Cougars open the season Sept. 3 at Arizona.
The predictable, but also certainly truthful, response is: no one knows.
Senior Taysom Hill is returning for a fifth year following a freak injury in the season opener at Nebraska last fall. He was still rehabbing in the spring and so offensive coordinator Ty Detmer said he’s never really seen him play.
Then there’s sophomore Tanner Mangum, whose meteoric rise in relief of Hill led to his being named the Freshman of the Year by the Touchdown Club of Columbus.
Third on the list is sophomore Beau Hoge, who did well enough in his appearances last year to have earned reps when fall camp starts, according to Detmer.
Hill and Mangum were both full participants in the media day activities, and Detmer said the team will be in good hands no matter which one of them ends up winning the starter’s job.
“They’re both really competitive,” the coach said. “They’re also great young men with great attitudes who are working hard and supporting each other.”
Asked if a tandem quarterback approach might be used, Detmer indicated probably not. “Only if it’s best for the team to do that,” he said.
However, as a player and a coach, Detmer said he believes that most of the time it’s better to name a starter and stick with him.
There’s no exact timetable for determining who gets the job. Detmer said all three quarterbacks will get a lot of reps the first couple weeks of camp and then the staff will start trying to narrow things down after that.
“First and foremost, we’re going to be looking for who understands the system and what we’re trying to do,” the coach said. “They’re all good leaders, but obviously we’re going to go with the guy that we think can make plays and move the chains.”
Detmer acknowledged that their skill sets are a bit different but doesn’t think adjusting to those is going to present a major difficulty for the team.
“As a coordinator, you go with the guy who gives you the best chance to win,” Detmer said. “Once we’ve made that decision, you adjust the scheme to doing whatever will give the one we pick the best chance to be successful.”
The coach experienced what it’s like to be part of a quarterback competition when he was a player, and he said the staff will have patience with the starter once the selection has been made.
“There won’t be any quick hooks,” Detmer said. “One bad day doesn’t make a bad player. Once we have the basics of the offense set, we’ll start working on getting good at the little things.”
Of course, in order for any quarterback to be effective, the other players on the team have to be able to make contributions as well.
The running game looks solid with the return of seniors Jamaal Williams and Algernon Brown along with some capable understudies, but the wide receivers are going to need to produce for the overall success of any quarterback, no matter who it is.
Receivers coach Ben Cahoon said neither he nor his players are very concerned about which man gets the starting job.
“We’re not picky,” he said. “Whoever’s throwing the ball, it’s our job to catch it.” He added that his players will have plenty of time to get used to whoever they need to work with. “It only takes about three days to adjust to the cadence of a quarterback,” he said.
Cahoon said a bigger concern for him is finding ways to get open. “We need to get better in every aspect of the game,” he said. “We’re not satisfied with anything at this point. There’s a lot of nuances to the game that we need to teach and the players need to learn.”
However, Cahoon said his troops are very coachable and working hard. “I just want to see our guys go out and make plays and do their thing,” he said.
With wide receiver Nick Kurtz still recovering from an injury, senior Colby Pearson was the player voice for the wide receivers during media day, and he wasn’t particularly concerned about which quarterback gets the job either.
“It’s awesome to have both guys on our team,” he said. “These are two elite dudes. We know that whichever one is throwing to us, the ball will be on target and on time.”
Instead, he said the receivers are focused on trying to get down their individual assignments and making sure they’re where they’re supposed to be when they’re supposed to be there.
“We have confidence with either quarterback, and that comes from having plenty of reps with both,” Pearson said. “Either one will do a fantastic job. Their styles are a little different, but both can get the job done.”