Is Tanner Mangum’s starting quarterback job on the line this week as BYU heads into Big Ten country to play a Top Ten opponent in Wisconsin at Camp Randall?
In short, yes, it is. As is everybody else’s starting job.
But Tanner is the leader. He’s earned the right to lead BYU’s offense.
But what makes Mangum’s situation more tenuous is the scrutiny and pressure he is under to be a big-time performer.
You see, in losses, quarterbacks usually receive the lion’s share of blame by the masses.
Drives stall? It’s his fault.
Receivers drop passes? It’s on him.
Blocking assignments get miscommunicated and execution fails? The quarterback must have had something to do with it.
A winnable game uncaptured? Surely the QB could have done more.
That’s what Mangum’s perch is like this week on the public stage. And because he is unofficially the face of 2017’s four-win season along with former offensive coordinator Ty Detmer, he carries that burden also.
Wow, if BYU had only beaten Cal and stood 2-0.
Of course, that’s not fair for the senior, but that’s what’s perceived by many after BYU’s 21-18 loss to California in the home-opener last Saturday in LaVell Edwards Stadium. It’s always a “what have you done lately?” kind of club and Mangum is a legacy member.
Wisconsin isn’t the venue for breaking in a new guy. Mangum will get the nod and we’ll see how it goes.
What’s Mangum’s approach?
He does his best to obey offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes, who gave specific instructions on how to answer questions about Arizona and Cal.
“I told them to tell people who ask about Arizona, ‘I don’t know. We’re moving on to Cal.’ And, if they ask about the Cal game, say you don’t know what they’re talking about, you’re moving on to Wisconsin.”
Mangum’s got it.
When media types got him after Wednesday’s practice and wanted to gauge what he thinks about being in the bubble and under the microscope, he Grimey’d it.
“We’re just moving on to the next one,” Mangum quipped.
Plain and simple. A binary choice of words. Move on.
“You move forward. You get hit in the mouth and you just keep going. You get back on the horse and move on. You learn from it and see if you can get better.”
When asked to assess his performance against Cal, Mangum smiled. “I’m moving on to Wisconsin. We’re excited for this opportunity and excited to play in Madison.
“It’s a long season and you have to take it one week at a time. It’s like Bill Belichick, the king of moving on. There’s not enough time to dwell on the past because there is so much work to get done for the next one.”
Offensive guard Tristen Hoge said it best, describing why he took it on himself to address the team immediately after the loss to Cal. He had to. He stood up among his teammates and warned them they should never get used to losing. He wanted what they felt to be turned off immediately.9 comments on this story
“The biggest thing I wanted to do,” said Hoge, “is avoid what happened last year and have that feeling of complacency creep in, getting used to losing. It’s a poison. I had to get them in there and tell them straight.”
Mangum’s got his work cut out for him and his offense this week in Madison. Wisconsin’s defense ranked in the top five of almost every category you can measure a year ago. Although younger with some inexperience, the Badgers are expected to challenge Ohio State for the Big Ten title.
It’s a foe Mangum has dreamed of facing.
He’s got a great opportunity.
That’s how he has to see it.