BYU (0-0) vs. Arizona (0-0)
Saturday, 8:30 p.m. MDT University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona TV: FS1
Radio: 1160 AM, 102.7 FM
PROVO — Following BYU’s final scrimmage of fall camp last Thursday, BYU quarterback Tanner Mangum remained on the field for quite a while after it was over, as usual, throwing passes.
When he was finished, Mangum answered questions from reporters for 10 minutes about being Taysom Hill’s backup this season after a fall camp quarterback battle.
And, as usual, he answered questions with a smile.
It’s been quite a year for Mangum. He returned from his mission in June 2015, became the starter a few months later after taking over for an injured Hill — making an unforgettable debut with a Hail Mary touchdown pass in a last-second victory at Nebraska — and ended up earning Freshman of the Year honors.
Now, as BYU gets set to kick off the 2016 season against Arizona Saturday (8:30 p.m. MDT, FS1), Mangum has returned to his role as the No. 2 QB behind Hill. And he’s taking it in stride.
“I feel good. We knew the decision would be made,” Mangum said. “Either way, we’re both excited. He and I have talked a lot throughout fall camp. He and I both just want to win games. That’s all that matters to us. He’s a phenomenal player, a great leader and he gives us a great chance to win games. I’m more than happy to follow his lead and be right alongside him, helping the team win. He and I are good friends. We’ve been good friends through it all. Nothing but love and respect for him.”
But that doesn’t mean he’s relaxing.
“I’m definitely not taking a back seat or anything. I’m going to stay me,” Mangum added. “I’m going to have fun and do the best I can to help him and help the team. That’s what we’re all about here. I’m looking forward to that opportunity.”
Before Hill was named the starter publicly, offensive coordinator Ty Detmer pulled Mangum aside to let him know the plan.
“He and I are on the same page,” Mangum said of Detmer. “There’s a common understanding of the situation we’re in with Taysom being here. It wasn’t like it was a shock or surprise.”
Detmer said it wasn’t easy telling Mangum that he wouldn’t be starting.
“It’s very challenging because I know Tanner is a great quarterback. You rely on past experiences at BYU with Jim McMahon, Marc Wilson and some of the other guys and experiences I’ve had in that situation,” Detmer said. “The best thing is to let guys know and be honest with them about the deal going forward. We still think Tanner is a big part of the program going forward. Maybe this year, maybe week one, just like it was last year. There’s no lack of confidence. It’s the situation we’re in and Taysom’s the starter.”
Detmer knows Mangum still has his teammates’ support.
“They treat Tanner like a starter because he was for them last year,” Detmer said. “It’s a great situation to have, where the team doesn’t care who’s in. They feel confident that we are going to win with either one.”
Mangum said Detmer told him “to be ready to go and stay on top of my game. I’ve played well this fall camp. It’s not like I played bad. I’ll keep playing well. I’ll be ready to go. Mentally, you can’t take plays off or relax. Just like I did last year — prepare like you’re going to be playing. Then you’re able to step in and play to the best of your ability when the time comes.”
For Mangum, there was a stark contrast between fall camp last year, when he was fresh off a mission, and the one that recently concluded.
“It’s a lot different. Last year, I was just trying to get used to the real world again. I felt rusty, out of shape. I did the best I could when I came in. Now, I feel a lot more confident and stronger. I’m more comfortable having a year of experience under my belt. I feel calm.”
The coaching staff said it will not redshirt Mangum, so he will keep working hard and prepare for his chance to play again.
“In football, you never know,” he said. “You’ve got to be ready to go.”
Just like last year, Mangum is ready to take the field, if needed.
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