(Photo by BYU Photo/Jaren Wilkey)
PROVO, Utah – BYU football began its spring practices in preparation for the 2017 football season on Monday morning in the Indoor Practice Facility.
The team participated in the usual conditioning and drills prior to various team and skill work. Practice concluded with a team 11-on-11 session.
On one of his final plays during his reps at quarterback, Tanner Mangum completed a 40-yard pass to Jonah Trinnaman down the sideline. Beau Hoge, Koy Detmer Jr., Kody Wilstead and Jeremiah Evans also got reps behind center.
The Cougars will continue practice over the next several weeks, with a couple of opportunities for the public to get a look at the team. On Friday, March 17, there will be an afternoon open practice in St. George (specific details and information to be announced), and the annual spring scrimmage will be held at LaVell Edwards Stadium on Saturday, March 25 at 1 p.m. MDT.
BYU head coach Kalani Sitake
It’s nice that we have the system already set. We have guys that are veterans and know our deal. I’m really pleased with the way the ones worked on both offense and defense. We’ll have to watch the film but for the first day I’m pleased.
What he wants to accomplish this spring
We need to get better fundamentally and with our technique. There are a lot of new guys in different spots, so we’re trying to develop some depth.
How much it helps to have a quarterback (Tanner Mangum) with so much experience
It’s huge. I think he knows a little better what Ty’s expecting. He was on the headset all season last year and was able to hear Ty speak after every play and the way he calls plays. He made a lot of audibles today that he struggled with last year in spring. He’s on the same page with Ty more than before. I was really pleased with how he executed the offense.
How the second spring compares to his first
Everyone was a lot more comfortable. Now we know the names of everyone on the field. It’s a lot easier the second time around—having everything established with guys that know our scheme.
Offensive coordinator Ty Detmer
It was a good first day. There are a lot of guys that are going fast and are excited. They are even going too fast at times. We just need to clean up the film, slow them down and allow them to play under control and detail the little things. I like the early start. What are we going to do? Sit around and watch more film from last year? It is time to get going for this year. I like starting as early as we can and jumping back into it.
First impressions of Tanner
Good. He was under control, he saw things. This time last year he had no idea where guys were lining up, so there was much greater control of the offense, lining guys up and communicating really clearly. And he is always going to make the throw, so we were happy with the first day and now we move forward and continue to add a little bit as we go.
Reps being divided with quarterbacks
Right now, we are trying to get all the guys some work, but eventually as we go forward, we’ll start dialing in a little more with the guys that need it. We are trying to give everybody a little bit, but with six quarterbacks out there, it is a little tricky at times. But Tanner will get the majority, and then you have guys competing for that backup spot, and you want to see a little from everybody.
Tweaking the system to adjust with Tanner
Taysom had quite a few carries at the end of the year when you look at the numbers. He ran the ball for us quite a few times. You don’t expect that from Tanner, so we’ll do things a little differently and tweak our schemes a little bit. We’ll constantly tweak how we block things and try to protect our edges, and maybe be more of an RPO (run-pass option) team than a run-run team.
Hunt for a tight-end
We have moved Moroni there and feel good about him, but that will be determined when we put the pads on. We know he can be a pass receiver, and now it is a matter of him accepting that challenge of being able to put his hand on the ground and be viable in the run game as well. We are missing a few guys to injuries that are holding out of spring ball that have experience, so it is the next guys that stand out this spring.
Tanner having already been established as the starter
Last year was an awkward situation because Taysom was sitting there, not doing a lot in spring while Tanner was getting the work but not feeling sure of how it was going to go. He is a totally different person this year. You can see the confidence level, he is taking charge, controlling the huddle and moving guys up and down the line of scrimmage. It is a different mentality and one that he has embraced.
Junior QB Tanner Mangum
How conditioning has gone
We’re feeling good. The weight room staff has been pushing us. That’s what we have conditioning for—to get stronger and bigger. We’re feeling good and are excited to be out here.
How it felt to practice again
It was fun. I think everyone’s excited. It’s always good to come back and put the helmets on and play football again. It’s the first day so we’re still learning a lot, but we’re way ahead of where we were last year. Last year on the first day we were just installing everything. Now we’ve got a year under our belts. Everyone knows what their job is and we’ve got the plays down so we’re starting way ahead. There’s still a lot to work on but we’re off to a good start.
His mindset this spring
I’m feeling really motivated and really focused this offseason on getting better, not only myself but as an offense. We had a good season this past year and we’re looking to build off that.
Junior linebacker Butch Pau'u
On the first day of spring practice
Today the defense performed well. A lot of the young guys looked good. We had a lot of the ‘backers rotating in. Johnny Tapusoa, they moved him to the mike position, and he looked really good at that position. We had some younger returned missionaries come and play and they performed well and I feel that with time we’ll get better and should be ready for the season.
Comparing this season’s first spring practice to last season’s
For a lot of us, I was talking with Fred and Francis, we all feel fine with it. We played in this scheme last season and we all felt fine. What the coaches want us to do is teach the younger guys so that they can get more reps and understand fully what this defense is about and the in’s and out’s.
On off-season physique
I put on two pounds, it’s kind of hard for me to put on some weight. The coaches said to try and get to 225 and maintain that body weight. So right now we’re there. I’m just trying to get stronger and I definitely will with the kind of workouts that we’re doing.
On the early spring season start
For me personally I do like it because during finals I don’t have to worry about practice. This entire March is nice and its even nicer that we have the opportunity to practice three days, lift and just watch film and continue to work on the fundamentals. That’s something that the coaches continue to reiterate to us in the film room, when we’re out here that last year the reason that we lost games is because our fundamentals weren’t sound. They want us to focus on the basics and master them so that we’re fine during the season.
How he would describe the defense this year
I think fundamentals would be the biggest one. You don’t have to worry about us being aggressive or us having to play physical. That’s something that just comes second nature to us. You see Fred and he’s screaming all over the place and just doesn’t stop. Francis is the same way and the defensive line does a really good job of keeping us motivated. So I think our biggest weakness last year was that we let too many big plays happen and that was due to a lack of sound fundamentals and not being in the right position at the right time.