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San Diego-style weather greeted BYU quarterback Tanner Mangum, who must be wondering when he'll ever start another football game in the sunshine.
Three months after getting his only meaningful playing opportunity of 2016 on a rainy night in the Poinsettia Bowl, Mangum took the LaVell Edwards Stadium field Saturday for the Cougars' scrimmage. The rain came, of course.
"It's football," Mangum said. "You've got to adjust."
You won't hear him complaining about the heat Aug. 26 when BYU opens the season vs. Portland State, and then the Cougars will meet LSU in a Houston venue with a retractable roof. So no worries about the weather in NRG Stadium, right? "Maybe the fire alarm will get pulled and the sprinklers will come on," offensive coordinator Ty Detmer joked.
Detmer's overall judgment of Mangum in March evoked his good mood, overlooking the quarterback's three interceptions in the 11-on-11 segment Saturday. "You know a guy's starting to get comfortable," he said, "when they start getting greedy, trying to manufacture big plays."
That was Detmer's style, after all. The well-hidden statistic of his Heisman Trophy season was 28 interceptions, causing his roommates to tease him about being "Turnover Ty." And Mangum appreciates how his coach "encourages us to play our game," he said. "He's not going to get mad at little mistakes. He's been there."
The more applicable career comparison in Mangum's immediate future involves Jim McMahon, not that living up to No. 9's standards is any easier than matching No. 14's work around here. The common thread is McMahon redshirted prior to his junior season, which is basically what Mangum did last year although he appeared briefly in three games before starting the Poinsettia Bowl because of Taysom Hill's elbow injury.
The Cougars' funniest Twitter moment of the season came after Mangum took kneel-down snaps in a win at Michigan State and fans were upset that he was burning a redshirt season. Mangum tweeted in response that redshirting never was the plan, explaining, "I'm 23 years old!"
He'll be 24 by the time Utah comes to town Sept. 9. That's the biggest checkpoint of his junior year, never mind the tests that LSU, Wisconsin and his hometown school, Boise State, will offer in the first half of the 2017 schedule.
He'll have to be at his best to beat any of those teams, and everybody knows it. Saturday's inaccuracy aside, "He's been great," Detmer said, summarizing the spring.
That's why Mangum was not being overly critical of himself, after easily the worst of his three career performances in this setting. He's always been the king of spring, when it comes to public showings.
Even in 2013, when he was about to depart on a church mission and coaches had little incentive to play him in the scrimmage, he completed 8 of 8 passes for 73 yards. Last March, when he took the first-team snaps with Hill unavailable, he was 6 of 9 for 82 yards.
Saturday's stats: 10 of 16 for 102 yards and one touchdown, with those three picks. Mangum looked alternately sharp and erratic, throwing lasers to Talon Shumway and Jonah Trinnaman, but missing high and long on other throws, including a pass that cornerback Chris Wilcox intercepted. And in a reversal of a memorable touchdown in the Poinsettia Bowl, another pass was batted around and intercepted by linebacker Isaiah Kaufusi.
BYU coach Kalani Sitake sounded less forgiving of the interceptions than Detmer, but he liked the takeaways from a defensive perspective. That's how this stuff works, in March.
In contrast to last spring, when a record crowd of 18,000 watched in pleasant weather, Saturday's session attracted only devoted followers. Mangum was the last player to leave the stadium, pausing on the plaza to sign an autograph in the rain, while picturing more favorable conditions five months from now.
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