PROVO — Tanner Mangum's remarkable first season as BYU's starting quarterback was perhaps best defined by the deep ball. Time and again he torched defenses by chucking it long, and at times miraculously so — particularly in wins over Nebraska and Boise State.
In preparation for the 2016 season, however, Mangum is focused on taking more of what the defense gives him.
Under the tutelage of new quarterbacks coach Ty Detmer, a player who thrived on making correct reads throughout his career, Mangum's eyes have shifted a bit from downfield to around the line of scrimmage.
"Making better decisions with the ball, being smarter with it and putting it in the right spots and to the right guys," Mangum said of his focus this spring. "(Detmer) is already helping me with that. To find the check down (receiver), to find the running back out of the backfield and the flat route, not necessarily to throw it deep every time. He's helping us see that those are just as effective in getting first downs and first downs get touchdowns."
Helping on the other end of the check down equation is new running backs coach Reno Mahe. Mahe found a lot of success playing at running back while at BYU, but really made his mark playing at receiver.
"He's really helping us learn to keep our feet on the ground and to run good routes," said BYU running back Squally Canada. "I feel we're all really improving in that area and we all love having him as our coach. He's a fun coach to learn from."
The overall goal for Mangum and other coaches is to up their completion percentage while upping the touchdown-to-interception ratio.
"It's something I definitely want to improve," Mangum said. "For any team to succeed you have to cut down on turnovers and deliver the ball."
ARIZONA PREP UNDERWAY: Any practice session can be a drag, particularly when there's no real opponent in sight. For this reason, among others, coaches went about game preparation for Arizona during Tuesday's practice session.
The Cougars kick off the season against the Wildcats on Sept. 3, with players excited to start focusing on the game.
"It wasn't too in depth, but we were all excited for it," said defensive lineman Kesni Tausinga. "Sometimes practices get to be a grind, but when coaches put up a goal for you — it just helps us because it's more real. We're practicing to go against someone else, so I think it helps motivate us."
The purpose isn't just to motivate players, but also to help evaluate where the team is.
"It's good to see how our offense and how our plays stack up against a scheme like Arizona's," Mangum said. "We can get a feel for that, so it's not completely new. Obviously we have a ways to go, we're not playing next week, but it's good to at least see it, so we're familiar with it. It's going to help us in fall camp."