We’re close to being really good in the passing game and being sharp. But we still need some time. —BYU offensive coordinator Ty Detmer
PROVO — BYU offensive coordinator Ty Detmer feels the offense is way ahead of where it stood last year at this time.
But, just two weeks before the season opener against Portland State, that doesn’t mean he’s complacent about it.
“I feel comfortable with where we’re at but 'comfortable' gets you beat a lot of times, too,” Detmer said. “Plenty of work to be done, but overall, I’m excited with the progress they’ve made.”
Going into fall camp, the offensive line figured to be one of the strengths of the team while there were plenty of questions about who would step up as playmakers.
The O-line has performed well during camp, as expected.
“On the offensive line, we’re coming off the ball and getting after it up front,” Detmer said. “It’s a good combination right now. Now it’s a matter of fine-tuning. As we get to game week, it’s putting a game plan together and really getting comfortable with that.”
Meanwhile, several players, including wide receivers Talon Shumway, Beau Tanner and Micah Simon, tight ends Matt Bushman and Moroni Laulu-Pututau and running backs Squally Canada and Riley Burt have had impressive moments during camp.
“We’re close to being really good in the passing game and being sharp,” Detmer said. “But we still need some time. We’ve got a couple of weeks to narrow down the package to what we’ll be running against Portland State (on Aug. 26).”
How would quarterback Tanner Mangum describe this offense?
“I’d say we’re pretty explosive. We’ve got a lot of good weapons,” he said. “It starts up front with a good line. Then we’ve got a lot of different weapons we can use at receiver, tight end and running back. There’s a lot of potential there for some explosive plays. We need to spread it around a little bit.”
Detmer has been pleased with what he’s seen from Shumway.
“Talon’s doing great. He can make plays on the ball down the field, one on one,” Detmer said. “He understands it.”
Both the running backs and tight ends will be by committee, Detmer stressed again.
“Moroni and Matt have taken a bunch of the reps and are getting a lot of work,” Detmer said. “But Tanner Balderree will be coming back this week (from injury). We’ve got a good group and we can afford to keep them fresh and rotating them in They're constantly working on the run game and the passing game. Those are guys that are going to be able to do it all for us. We feel good about their progress in the run and pass game.”
Canada is the projected starter at running back but Burt, KJ Hall, Ula Tolutau, Trey Dye and Kavika Fonua are all expected to see action.
“It’s difficult to get a depth chart right now because there are so many guys that can do so many things,” coach Kalani Sitake said of the running backs. “For us, we’re really situational. We’ll have to use those guys in different spots. There are some situations where KJ and Trey might be a better option for us. Right now, we’re trying to make every one of them an every down back. But we’re going to utilize guys to their strengths and then deal with whatever tendencies we may show then switch it up on people. The key is that we have talent and trying to get them enough reps so they keep progressing and getting better as an individual player.”
One of the key battles during fall camp has been at backup quarterback, where sophomores Beau Hoge and Koy Detmer, Jr., have been competing behind Mangum.
“They’re doing great. We were 70 percent throwing (in last Saturday’s scrimmage),” said Ty Detmer. “When you’re having that consistency with that group, you feel pretty good about things. We’re getting to where in the next week we’ll probably have to name that backup or have a couple of guys ready to go based on the situation. Beau’s doing well. He still needs the reps. We’ve got to get them all as many as we can and see where it ends up. Beau’s athletic and he makes plays with his legs. Koy understands it and knows where to go with it.”
Freshmen quarterbacks, and recently returned missionaries, Kody Wilstead and Joe Critchlow, have shown potential but they are still learning the offense, Detmer added.