BYU is known for its quarterbacks and its high-powered passing attack — or at least it used to be. In the long wait for the 2017 season, BYU's current roster of passers hopes to restore that reputation.
And they may just have the talent to do it.
The Cougars were No. 96 in passing offense last season. That's quite a difference from the offenses of the '80s, '90s and even the 2000s. With Ty Detmer trying to put something similar to the old-style BYU offense back in place, he needs the quarterbacks he has to step up in a big way.
Here's a breakdown of BYU's quarterbacks for the upcoming season.
Taysom Hill: Hill is now fighting for a spot on the Green Bay Packers roster after getting picked up as an undrafted free agent. The Cougars will miss Hill's ability to pick up first downs and touchdowns with his feet. One only wonders what Hill's career might have been had he not been hampered by so many injuries. But the Cougars will miss his abilities, no question about it.
Projected depth chart
Starter: Tanner Mangum
Key backups: Beau Hoge, Koy Detmer Jr., Austin Kafentzis, Kody Wilstead
What the national media is saying
Ben Kercheval of CBSSports.com placed Mangum in the "Mitchell Trubisky Tier," which consists of "names to watch for a big leap."
Bill Bender of Sporting News has Mangum as an honorable mention in his list of the Top 25 quarterbacks for 2017.
Mangum is the No. 31 quarterback in the FBS according to Steven Lassan of Athlon Sports.
Mangum already made national headlines when he first took the field and stunned both Nebraska and Boise State with Hail Mary passes two seasons ago. We've seen solid flashes of potential from Mangum from his time taking over for Hill.
However, he has yet to arrive as one of the nation's elite.
Take a look at his day vs. Wyoming in the Poinsettia Bowl. He finished 8 for 15 for 96 yards with one touchdown and one interception. And that one interception was a head-scratcher as he threw the ball under duress right into a Wyoming defender's hands. It wasn't a bad day by any means, and BYU came away with the win. However, you could see that Mangum has some work to do this summer.
It's probably for the best that Mangum spent much of last season on the sidelines as he learned and adapted to Ty Detmer's new offense. Nobody can question Mangum's physical capabilities. He simply needed a bit more time and experience under his belt.
BYU's coaching staff has been happy with Mangum's growth this spring, and Mangum himself told our Deseret News reporter Jeff Call about his progress: "One of the biggest improvements for me, personally, is the understanding and the mastery of the offense. Having a year under my belt now, and having it more ingrained, I’ve been able to improve even since last season. I feel good and I feel confident."
Cougar fans can reasonably expect progress from Mangum as he settles into the starting role instead of simply taking over for an injured Hill. He will be tested early as he has to face defensive juggernaut LSU just two weeks into the season.
Mangum seems to fit the mold of great BYU quarterbacks of the past, but he has yet to fully take his place among them. He'll get his chance over the next two seasons.
As for the backup quarterbacks, things got a lot more interesting when Kafentzis joined the program. The former four-star recruit started at Wisconsin before transferring to Nevada and Arizona Western before coming to Provo. While Kafentzis doesn't have much in-game experience at the college level, he did set a new record for the most passing yards in Utah history while playing for Jordan High School.
Hoge has some limited in-game experience as he had to take over for Mangum during the East Carolina game two seasons ago. It wasn't his finest performance as he completed just one of five passing attempts and threw a pick. He did much better in his next appearance against Wagner of the FCS. Hoge resembles Hill more than he does Mangum in his style of play. He could be useful in specific situations where a more mobile quarterback is called for.
Detmer, on the other hand, seems to fit the bill as the kind of quarterback his uncle Ty Detmer is trying to put into place. He went three for three the only time he's been on the field in a game, and that was against lower-division Wagner. He had a solid day during BYU's spring scrimmage as he went a perfect six for six.38 comments on this story
Wilstead is a returned missionary who arrived for spring ball. He's a talented, tall quarterback from Pine View High that could be the future at the position but is a likely redshirt candidate for 2017.
Bottom line: Mangum is the man for the Cougars, and he's got quite the road ahead of him. Whether he'll live up to his potential and take his place among elite BYU quarterbacks remains to be seen, but we should see progress as he adapts to being the guy. Meanwhile, expect fireworks this fall in the battle for the backup QB spot.
Lafe Peavler is a sports strategist for the Deseret News and KSL.com. Follow him on Twitter @LafePeavler.