PROVO — First-year BYU offensive coordinator Ty Detmer will be coaching in his first bowl game — with a new starting quarterback.
But Detmer says his game plan won’t change much with sophomore Tanner Mangum taking snaps against Wyoming in the Poinsettia Bowl on Dec. 21 (7 p.m., MST, ESPN) in place of injured Taysom Hill.
“We’re at a point in the season where we’re not going to put a new offense in. We’ll run a lot of our same stuff,” Detmer said. “But obviously, quarterbacks have different preferences and different things that they like. We’ll try to stick with what Tanner feels most comfortable with, especially not having the most reps this year. But you also look at what he does the best and try to pair those two.”
What Mangum, who will be making his first start of the season, does best is throw the ball.
“That excitement’s there. He’s fired up to get the chance to be the guy,” Detmer said about Mangum. “He’s throwing after practice and doing all the things he can to make sure he’s ready.”
Wide receiver Mitchell Juergens said feels bad about losing Hill, who suffered a season-ending elbow injury in the regular-season finale against Utah State. But he added that things won’t be much different with Mangum.
“We trust both of them. Our heart goes out to Taysom. We wish he was there with us,” Juergens said. “You hate to see him play this well during the season and miss the last game. But they’re both leaders and they’re both great players. That doesn’t change our mindset or the way we play. We know Tanner’s going to sling the rock, and as receivers, we’ve got to be ready to catch and make plays and make his job easier.”
Detmer said the game plan — establishing the run — that the Cougars have used all season will continue against the Cowboys. Wyoming ranks No. 88 nationally in rushing defense, giving up 202.7 yards per game.
“That’s what we do. We try to run the ball. I don’t think (Wyoming is) any different from any other team we’ve played,” Detmer said. “They’ve played teams that are committed to running the ball (like New Mexico and San Diego State). Some of those (rushing defense) numbers are probably skewed compared to other teams. If they’re in the box, we’ll throw it. You’re always in the mode of taking what the defense gives you.”
Detmer's game plan has worked well this season.
“You always hope as a coordinator that, when you’re running the ball, you have the lead or you’re in the game and not have to abandon that plan,” Detmer said. “We were in every game and gave ourselves a chance to win.”
While the Cougars will have Jamaal Williams to shoulder the load of the run game, they’ll be without Hill’s running ability. Hill suffered four season-ending injuries during his BYU career.
“That’s hard. He made it all the way through the year and then the fourth quarter of the last game, he (injures) the elbow,” Detmer said. “He plays the game hard. That was always the risk, every year, with him. He doesn’t know any other way to play, and that’s what you want in a guy — no matter the situation, the score, he’s going to play to win the game. It was hard to watch, that we’d come this far and have that happen right at the end and not be able to finish of the season in the bowl game. I feel for him.”
Hill is still recovering from elbow surgery and hasn’t been around the team during practices this week. Detmer said that will change soon.
“I’m expecting him to be around as much as he wants to be,” Detmer said. “Knowing him, he’ll want to be around with the guys, especially when we get down there (to San Diego), I think he’ll be at everything.”