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Provo • Jeff Grimes, Aaron Roderick and Tanner Mangum are fully aware that BYU’s passing attack ranks among the worst in major college football.
But the offensive coordinator, passing game coordinator and starting quarterback for the Cougars’ 3-1 football team aren’t really concerned about that. For now.
The number they care about, besides the win-loss record, is two. That’s how many interceptions Mangum has thrown through four games — an almost-acceptable number to all three men.
The No. 20-ranked Cougars face No. 11 Washington and its phenomenal defensive secondary Saturday night at 6:30 p.m. at Husky Stadium in Seattle.
Mangum laughed when he was asked Wednesday if he cares about statistics.
“No,” he said, chuckling. “At the end of the day, what matters is the wins. That’s what gets remembered. That’s what you care about. At the end of the year, you care about the record. You don’t care about the stats that you had. So I am more than willing to sacrifice personal statistics for team victories. It would be selfish for me to worry about my numbers and my stats as opposed to helping our team win. That’s the mentality that we all have on this team. It is a team-first mentality. That’s what matters most.”
Roderick warned fans who want to see the Cougars move up in the national offense and passing statistics that it won’t happen this week against a UW defense he said is “about as good of a defense as you will see anywhere in college football” and does all it can to limit big plays.
“This is a tough week to think about big plays or stats,” Roderick said. “To me, stats are for losers. We are 3-1 and we are taking good care of the ball. This week is about trying to find a way to win, however we’ve got to do it.”
Roderick said that Mangum has done what he’s been asked to do, which is to take care of the football, first and foremost.
“I keep saying it and keep saying it,” Roderick said. “If Tanner is smart with the ball, we will always have a good chance to win, because we have a good defense and we have a good run game.”
Roderick said the numbers will go up in the latter half of the schedule as the quality of BYU’s opponents lessens and coaches start taking more risks.
Rounding them up
In case you missed them, here are some of the stories, player profiles and columns the Tribune has brought to you this past week:
• Rather than get into X’s and O’s before the McNeese game, I delved into BYU’s dwindling attendance at LaVell Edwards Stadium the past few years. Trib. Yes, the crowds are down from the Cougars' heyday, but so are just about everyone else’s.
• Although they are winning, the Cougars are looking a lot like the 2017 team — at least offensively. Here’s our review of the win over McNeese. Trib
• Wins over Arizona and Wisconsin gave the Cougars confidence, but they still had plenty of praise and respect for No. 11 Washington at their weekly Monday press briefing. Trib
• The Cougars were able to grind out wins over Arizona, Wisconsin and McNeese with their rushing attack and the jet sweep. They’ll probably need to air it out to beat the Huskies. Trib
• BYU has faced some excellent quarterbacks already, but none can spin the football like Washington’s Jake Browning, a four-year starter. The young BYU defensive backs will also have their hands full with Washington’s outstanding receivers, including Provo’s Ty Jones. Trib
Plus a few more
• Sports illustrated took a deep dive into the play BYU’s offense is using to move the ball this season, the jet sweep, or sometimes called the fly sweep. SI
• Dick Harmon of the Deseret News turned BYU’s attitude of having a chip on its shoulder all season into this column. Dnews
• Washington coach Chris Petersen has noticed BYU’s “unique” running attack, according to Adam Jude of the Seattle Times. Times
BYU running back Matt Hadley grew up in Connell, Wash., which is much closer to Washington State University in Pullman than it is to the University of Washington in Seattle or BYU. But he cheered for BYU and UW. Here’s why:
“Sometimes I would cheer for the University of Washington just because most of my community was Washington State fans. And so I would like tease my friends because I wasn’t loyal to either. But just because we were such big BYU fans growing up. I wouldn’t say I was a Huskies fan or anything like that, but it was fun to tease people.”
Remembering a young Mangum
At his Monday press conference, Washington coach Chris Petersen marveled that Mangum is still around and noted that he recruited Mangum when he was Boise State’s coach and Mangum was at nearby Eagle High School.
“I cannot believe he is still playing college football,” Petersen said. “I am like, huh?’ … He’s an experienced fifth-year — kind of fifth year — kind of quarterback.”
Mangum, who greyshirted his first year in Provo and then served a church mission to Chile, has actually only suited up for BYU for four years. But he appreciated Petersen’s mention.
“I love coach Pete. One of my favorite coaches, especially during the recruiting process. Just a first-class guy. I had fun talking with him. Loved interacting with him. He did a lot of amazing things at Boise State and so I am looking forward to seeing him, looking forward to playing against him,” Mangum said Wednesday. “Lot of respect for coach Pete and what he has done both at Boise State and U-Dub. … He probably started recruiting me back in 2010, 2011, so he is probably like, how is he still around?”
Elsewhere on campus
• BYU’s women’s soccer team was respectable 5-3-1 in non-conference action and now turns its attention to West Coast Conference play. The Cougars will host Gonzaga (5-2-2) on Thursday at 7 p.m. at South Field and will host Portland (7-4-0) on Saturday at the same time and location.
• BYU’s No. 1-ranked women’s volleyball team remained unbeaten with a 3-0 sweep of Pepperdine on Tuesday night at Firestone Fieldhouse to improve to 13-0 overall and 3-0 in WCC play. The Cougars return to Provo to host Gonzaga on Thursday night and Portland on Saturday night at Smith Fieldhouse.
Coach Heather Olmstead picked up the 100th win of her career and senior outside hitter Roni Jones-Perry led the Cougars with 16 kills in the win over the Waves.
BYU caught a scheduling break last year before playing instate rival Utah State, but it didn’t help. The Cougars committed seven turnovers and lost 40-24 to the Aggies in Logan despite having nearly two weeks to prepare because they had a bye the weekend before the Battle for the Old Wagon Wheel.
This year, Utah State will have the advantage. The Aggies have a bye this weekend after improving to 3-1 with a 42-32 win over Air Force on Sept. 22. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. and the game will be televised by ESPN2.