Provo • Offensive players and coaches took their turn talking to reporters after BYU’s football practice on Wednesday, but neither quarterback Tanner Mangum nor his primary backup, Beau Hoge, were made available for interviews.
No surprise there.
It is just more evidence that Mangum, who suffered an ankle injury late in the 19-13 loss to Utah last Saturday, will not play against No. 10 Wisconsin on Saturday (1:30 p.m. MDT, ABC) at LaVell Edwards Stadium. And officials clearly did not want to put Hoge in a situation where he would have to answer questions about Mangum’s health, or his own readiness to take over the offense.
Instead, offensive coordinator Ty Detmer did the talking, without saying much.
After originally joking that 275-pound tight end and offensive lineman JJ Nwigwe would be the starter, Detmer deferred on the big question regarding Mangum. The Salt Lake Tribune has reported that the junior could be out 4-6 weeks.
“I can’t say anything right now,” Detmer said. “We don’t talk about injuries and reps and all those things. We will kinda see what happens come Saturday.”
Asked whether Mangum practiced, Detmer said: “I am not going to talk about who is practicing, and who is not.”
No. 10 Wisconsin at BYU
Saturday, 1 p.m.
TV • ABC
Hoge, a 6-foot-1, 205-pound redshirt sophomore, is the son of former NFL running back and current ESPN NFL analyst Merril Hoge and is considered to be more athletic and a better runner than Mangum, but not nearly the passing threat.
He played in three games in 2015, completing 8 of 11 passes for 117 yards and a TD, and redshirted last year because he was behind Mangum and then-senior Taysom Hill on the depth chart.
Detmer said that the offense won’t change much if Mangum isn’t in there.
“It is something that all the guys on our team have been practicing for a whole month of training camp,” Detmer said. “So you don’t just go and change everything and try to invent a new offense in a week.”
Detmer acknowledged that BYU’s struggles on offense have been due to a combination of excellent defense played against the Cougars by LSU and Utah and the Cougars not being sharp in the passing game and not being able to run the ball to keep defenses honest.
“Obviously, we are not scoring enough points, so we are not doing a lot well right now,” he said.
Will a different starting quarterback, if there is one, run the ball more like Hill did last year?
“I doubt it,” Detmer said. “I mean, I don’t think anything changes with our offense. We will line up and play and we will go with whoever shows up on Saturday.”
Changes at running back
While juniors Squally Canada and Kavika Fonua have gotten the bulk of the carries through three games, Detmer confirmed that some relatively new faces will be in the backfield against the Badgers.
Freshman “Ula [Tolutau’u] obviously came in and provided a spark right there, and we got a glimpse of what we thought we had,” Detmer said. “And now he is feeling 100 percent and we can mix him in there more.”
Detmer said junior Trey Dye, who caught a 7-yard touchdown pass against Utah, has also moved up the depth chart.
“Trey has been great,” Detmer said. “He does a great job in the pass game, pass protection, and then is able to carry the ball for us. He is becoming the complete package for us back there, which helps, if you are in a more throwing-type of personnel, like last week.”
Tolutau’u, who signed with Wisconsin before a church mission, said playing the Badgers “feels like any other team” and that it is “just another game” to him. But he also said it was “special” because he almost went there and still knows some players on the UW team. … Wisconsin is traveling west of Texas for a true road game for the first time since a 2013 trip to Arizona State, a 32-30 loss for UW.