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BYU football: Tanner Mangum feels he's improved upon the great play shown during 2015

PROVO — A lot of intrigue has surrounded BYU quarterback Tanner Mangum this season following the sophomore's successful freshman campaign, with regards to what improvements he's made and what sort of product he'd provide. Mangum has played in a backup role all season long, seeing brief playing time in the latter stages of BYU blowouts, unable to play alongside many starters while having the playbook limited.

But he'll finally now have a chance to show what he has, receiving the starting nod for the first time since the end of the 2015 season when BYU takes on Wyoming in the Poinsettia Bowl. So will Mangum pick up from where he left off last season against the Cowboys?

“That’s the goal. That’s the plan,” Mangum answered during Thursday's press conference. “I feel good. I feel confident and it will feel good to have a couple of weeks of practice — just to get all the reps and sharpen up — I feel good. I feel strong. I feel confident and I feel healthy.”

Mangum played remarkably well last season, subbing in for the injured Taysom Hill for the better part of the season. Just three months removed from LDS Church mission service, the Eagle, Idaho native finished 2015 with 3,377 yards passing and 23 touchdowns.

Coaches often say that the most improvement players generally see throughout their careers is between their first and second years and Mangum is confident that will be the case with him, despite sitting on the bench for most of the season.

“I feel like I’m definitely better,” Mangum said. “I’m like 20 pounds heavier. I’m stronger and I’m a little bit faster than I was last year. So physically, I feel good and then being able to learn mentally has been huge.”

Mangum has been a model of team-player throughout the process, showing little to no frustration with his backup role, although he admitted on Thursday to some anxiousness.

“There’s times when you get frustrated…when you want to be able to contribute and help,” Mangum said. “But like I mentioned all year long, it’s been a huge learning experience for me remembering that it’s for the good of the team and focusing on what’s good for the program.”

Mangum mentioned on Thursday how grateful he's been to Hill throughout the year and how heartbroken he is that the senior's career had to end with yet another devastating injury.

In replacing Hill, Mangum brings a more classic drop-back style that will perhaps bring about some subtle changes to the offense.

“I think it will be a little different because his skill-set is different than Taysom’s,” confirmed BYU coach Kalani Sitake. “But we just want to get points on the board and march the ball down the field. Tanner’s capable of doing it, maybe in a different style than Taysom, but if you saw Tanner in high school, he can run the ball too.”

ARGUMENT OVER: One of the lighter moments of Thursday's press conference came when Sitake was asked about being named the Communicator of the Year at the 29th Golden Spike Awards last week. Sitake mentioned he's taken the award to the homefront, taking some tactical advantages for what he feels it represents.

“It ends every argument I have with my wife,” Sitake quipped. “I put the trophy (above) the fireplace, and anytime there’s an argument, I just point to that and say, ‘I got an award for communicator of the year.’”

So has Sitake's ploy actually seen success?

“It’s probably not the best move by a husband to do that and she reminded me that it was only for 2016 and 2017 is coming up real quick,” Sitake said. “I don’t know, I think my ego got a little too big, right there, but I think it should give me a free pass on a lot of the arguments.”

Email: bgurney@desnews.com

Twitter: @BrandonCGurney