Provo • Only three of the 127 teams in major college football have worse offenses, in terms of scoring and total yards, than BYU through the first few weeks of the season. Things could get even more problematic for the 1-2 Cougars this week, and not just because No. 10 Wisconsin is bringing its typically stingy Big Ten defense to town.
It appears that BYU starting quarterback Tanner Mangum might not be able to play Saturday against the Badgers (2-0) at LaVell Edwards Stadium as the Cougars’ streak of playing three straight Power Five foes continues.
A junior, Mangum suffered a left ankle or foot injury on the final significant play of the 19-13 loss to Utah last Saturday and was seen walking around campus with a protective boot on his left foot. He was scheduled to have an MRI on his ankle/foot later Monday.
No. 10 Wisconsin at BYU
Saturday, 1:30 p.m.
TV • ABC
Asked about Mangum’s condition at his weekly news briefing Monday morning, coach Kalani Sitake reiterated that BYU does not disclose injuries unless they are season-ending.
“Nothing confirmed yet on any of the injuries [suffered against Utah],” Sitake said. “… So until we can get more confirmation [nothing will be announced].”
Later, offensive coordinator Ty Detmer was asked on his Coordinators’ Corner show about Mangum limping off the field and whether he was OK.
“I think so,” Detmer said. “I know he was in getting some treatment on Sunday. He got rolled up on there a little bit trying to keep the play alive, got twisted up a little. But as far as I know right now, everything is ready to go.”
If Mangum can’t go, redshirt sophomore Beau Hoge will get the start. Hoge played in three games as a freshman, and is more of a dual-threat QB than Mangum. He completed 10 of 17 passes for 137 yards and a touchdown, and was intercepted once, while playing in three games as a freshman in 2015. He rushed 16 times for 49 yards and two TDs.
Detmer said Mangum’s backups — Hoge and third-stringer Koy Detmer, Jr. — are not getting a lot of reps in practice. Monday’s practice was closed to the media, as all BYU practices are during the season.
“Beau gets a few here or there, but they are not getting a ton of work in order to be ready to go or play at the same level the starter is,” Ty Detmer said.
Even if Mangum is at less than 100 percent, it is another significant blow to a unit that ranks 124th in the country in total offense (231.7 ypg.) and scoring (11.0 ppg.).
After the loss to Utah, Sitake hinted that changes could be made offensively because he is not a patient man. Asked about that comment Monday, Sitake said competition continues for every position, “nothing is set in stone,” and the coaches will play the best guys, regardless of past experience.
That probably means that freshman running back Ula Tolutau will get more carries, after packing the ball five times for 25 yards and a touchdown against the Utes.
“We just have to adjust some things, and be more efficient, and be better as an offense, and better as a team,” Sitake said. “That is in all three phases. We are trying to find out what we can hang our hat on, and get our identity. You hate saying that after three games, but we need to establish that quickly.”
The coach said he warned the team about “rivalry hangover” Monday morning and said he was thankful for a big-name opponent such as Wisconsin this week to get the players refocused on another huge game.
“You gotta move on,” Sitake said. “It is big-time football now. With the [rivalry] game being this early, you have to move on to the next week. I have been part of teams where you lose it, and it hurts you the next week, and you win it, and it still hurts you the next week.”
Defensively, Sitake thought the Cougars played well enough to win the rivalry game.
“Obviously we need to be more productive on the offensive side,” he said. “That’s what it comes down to.”
Sitake said that senior safety Micah Hannemann will play against Wisconsin. Hannemann had to sit out the first half against Utah due to a targeting penalty against LSU, but did not enter the game at all, for undisclosed reasons.
“We felt really good with our safeties and the way they were playing and the rotation they had,” Sitake said. “It is unfortunate. We look forward to [Hannemann] being back this weekend and getting in the mix and competing for a starting spot.”