Provo • That scooter-like contraption designed to take the weight off his injured left ankle is gone, but BYU starting quarterback Tanner Mangum isn’t back practicing yet and almost certainly won’t play on Friday when the Cougars travel to Utah State.
Although BYU coaches have a policy of not discussing injuries unless they are season-ending, head coach Kalani Sitake said Monday in his weekly press briefing that the junior is improving after suffering the injury in the waning moments of the 19-13 loss to Utah on Sept. 9.
“Well, he is not on a scooter anymore, so that’s a positive,” Sitake said when asked by The Salt Lake Tribune for a timeline on his return. “So he is improving, but it is still too early to make a definitive decision on this weekend.”
Redshirt sophomore Beau Hoge completed 11 of 20 passes for 111 yards and was intercepted twice in his first start in Mangum’s place, the 40-6 loss to Wisconsin. Barring a miracle, he will start against the 2-2 Aggies (6 p.m. MDT, CBS Sports Network).
Mangum and Hoge are listed as co-starters on the depth chart BYU released Monday. The only other change is that sophomore running back KJ Hall, who suffered an arm injury against LSU and didn’t play against Wisconsin, is not listed anywhere on the depth chart.
Receiver Micah Simon, who caught three passes for 60 yards against UW, including a 50-yarder from Hoge, said the backup did OK in his first start.
“You know, playing against a top-10 team in the country, with a great defense, he did some great things, showed some flashes,” Simon said. “As everybody knows, he can move with his legs, and throw some good balls as well. He obviously wants plays back. I have watched film with him, talked over some things with him. But I think he did OK. We can all be better. The line can be better to help him, the receivers, we can be better to help him. Same thing with the running backs. It is all a team thing.”
How BYU views the USU rivalry
Although the Cougars are 25-3 against the Aggies in their last 28 meetings, USU has won twice in the last seven years — 31-16 in 2010 and 35-20 in 2014 — and is considered a rival by BYU, the Cougars and Sitake said Monday. The winner gets control of the Old Wagon Wheel, which is currently in the football office’s lobby at BYU.
“The Wagon Wheel is fun,” said BYU punter Jonny Linehan. “I love that song by Darius Rucker and so I can’t sing it if I don’t have the wheel. Any time there is something on the line, it just makes the game that much more important. … It doesn’t matter if it is a wagon wheel, or if nobody is watching, we need to perform better for ourselves.”
Utah State center Quin Ficklin, who got a release from BYU and transferred to USU last winter, was asked how BYU views the rivalry in USU’s news conference Monday.
“BYU has their two rivals,” Ficklin said. “They have Utah and then they have Utah State. I would say that they view Utah as their biggest rival and then they view us as a rival, but not to the magnitude of Utah.”
High school teammates — in Texas
BYU’s Simon and USU receiver Braelon Roberts were teammates at Bishop Dunne High School in Dallas, Texas. Roberts is a senior and Simon is a redshirt sophomore who played quarterback in high school.
“So that will be fun,” Simon said. “I haven’t really seen him in a while.”
This and that
Utah State will wear its white jersey tops for a white-out promotion Friday, so the Cougars are expected to their their royal blue jersey tops and white pants combination in the game. … This is the first of three Friday night games for BYU. The Cougars will play at home against Boise State on Sept. 6 and at UNLV on Nov. 10. BYU was 2-0 in Friday night games last year.