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BYU quarterbacks, receivers need to develop chemistry, timing during offseason

PROVO — BYU’s Tanner Mangum and Moroni Laulu-Pututau first honed their chemistry together while serving their missions in Chile a couple of years ago.

On a couple of occasions, Mangum threw passes to Laulu-Pututau on preparation days in the city of Arica in the Chile Antofagasta Mission.

Now, Mangum is the Cougars’ starting quarterback and Laulu-Pututau has switched from wide receiver to tight end.

Asked to describe the rhythm they have together, Laulu-Pututau replied, fittingly, “Muy bien.”

As the backup last season, Mangum is focused on developing chemistry with all of his wide receivers and tight ends.

“It’s getting better. Every day it gets better,” Mangum said. “The key is just reps, especially reps going against a defense. You can throw routes on air and that’s important but you have to be able to translate that into the game and into game speed, going against a live defense.”

Spring practices for BYU are over, but now the real work begins heading into the 2017 season.

Receivers coach Ben Cahoon said establishing that connection between the quarterbacks and receivers requires a lot of extra time together.

“That is an after-practice exercise. If they’re willing to do that, they have a chance to be decent,” Cahoon said. “If they’re not and if they think they can just do their work in two hours a day, then we’ll be a mediocre passing offense, frankly. It’s going to be up to them and we can’t force it on them. We can encourage them. The great ones, all throughout BYU (history) have broken into churches and got the codes to the (Indoor Practice Facility) and figured out a way to spend extra time with their quarterback. That message has been sent and they know it. It remains to be seen if they’re willing to do it.”

For Laulu-Pututau, that message, like hundreds of passes, has been received. He’s spending plenty of time catching balls from Mangum.

“It’s going well. We worked a lot (before spring ball), too,” he said. “We have a lot of new guys, too. We’ve worked with all of the QBs. The timing is good and we’re a lot farther ahead than we were last year, for sure.”

Having lost receivers like Nick Kurtz, Colby Pearson and Mitchell Juergens, Mangum is developing a rhythm with receivers like Jonah Trinnaman, Rickey Shumway, Talon Shumway, Akile Davis, Micah Simon and Beau Tanner.

Trinnaman didn’t join the team until fall camp last season.

“It’s crucial for him and Tanner to get on the same page,” Cahoon said. “They’ve got to get their timing down. Tanner’s got to get used to his body language and his burst of speed. The more time they spend together, the better off we’ll be as an offense. The chemistry is going to make a huge difference.”

Simon and Davis redshirted last year and they’ll be counted on to be playmakers this fall.

“Their games have improved significantly. They redshirted with the idea that they needed to get bigger and faster and they weren’t quite ready physically to contribute,” Cahoon said. “That was last year. Now they’re making an impact. I’ve been pleased with how hard they’re competing. That decision to redshirt them from Kalani is paying off. They’re playing well.”

Offensive coordinator Ty Detmer said his group of receivers improved during the spring.

“Guys like Micah Simon stepped up and had a good spring, so did Talon Shumway. He kind of became a go-to guy for us. Jonah’s making strides. Akile played a lot of DB for us on scout team and he’s making strides. I feel real good with that group. They all bring a little something different to the table, kind of like the running back group. We’ll mix and match. You add Aleva (Hifo), who wasn’t practicing (due to injury) and I have high hopes for him based off what he did his freshman year.”