BYU QB Mangum making first start a week after Hail Mary win

PROVO, Utah (AP) Tanner Mangum was prepared to spend 2015 holding a clipboard before everything changed last week. Now the freshman BYU quarterback is making the first start of his college career Saturday against No. 20 Boise State, a team he grew up rooting for.

Mangum's hometown of Eagle, Idaho, is about 10 miles from the Boise State campus, making him a natural Broncos fan. Though other ties to BYU also made him a Cougars fan.

''I remember the first time I watched (the game) on TV, it was in Provo,'' Mangum said. ''Boise State won the game and I was torn. I didn't know if I was happy or not.''

His allegiances are certainly clear now.

Mangum's opportunity to lead the Cougars came in the second quarter of the season opener against Nebraska last week when BYU starter Taysom Hill was lost for the season with a Lisfranc sprain in his foot. Mangum announced himself to the college football world when he hit Mitch Mathews for a 42-yard touchdown pass with no time remaining to give BYU the win.

The young QB was considered Hill's successor, just not so soon.

Both the Cougars and Broncos face challenges surrounding Mangum this week.

He held down the fort when Hill left and completed 7 of 11 passes for 111 yards and that game-winning touchdown. But that's somewhat of a fluke play in a crazy game. BYU has spent the last week preparing Mangum to be the starter, something coach Bronco Mendenhall said they never previously talked about. Oh, and he just returned from a two-year Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints mission to Chile three months ago.

Boise State coach Bryan Harsin knows plenty about the freshman as an Idaho native who recruited Mangum while Harsin was the co-offensive coordinator at Texas. But there isn't much tape to study and BYU will make some adjustments from what they called for Hill.

''He looks bigger. He's stronger,'' Harsin said. ''He's obviously more mature. Even his mechanics and the way he threw it and moved around, you can tell he's improved. They've done a nice job with him.''

Things to watch when BYU hosts Boise State on Saturday:

SCHEDULE CROSSROADS: Both teams have reached a crucial moment in their schedules early in the season. BYU is the last opponent on the Boise State schedule receiving votes in the AP Poll. A struggling Virginia program is the only Power 5 team left on the Broncos' slate and they are expected to roll through the Mountain West. The Cougars are coming off the Nebraska upset and a win could move them into the Top 25 before they go on to face No. 13 UCLA and Michigan.

TALL TARGETS: BYU's offense features a pair of 6-foot-6 receivers in Mathews and Nick Kurtz and 6-5 receiver Terenn Houk. Kurtz led the team with five receptions for 123 yards in the opener while Mathews had two touchdowns on three receptions. Harsin wasn't worried just about their size, ''They were running very precise routes, getting out of their breaks, coming back to the ball. That makes it more difficult.''

SPECIAL SPECIAL TEAMS: Boise State had some issues on special teams with plays that almost allowed Washington to rally from a 16-0 deficit last week. The Broncos allowed a 76-yard punt return for a touchdown and had a blocked punt. Harsin is focused on cleaning that up.

IN THE TRENCHES: BYU lost starting nose tackle Travis Tuiloma for four to six weeks with a knee injury last week. Mendenhall called him the Cougars' best defensive player. Senior Logan Taele moves from defensive end and senior Graham Rowley will start at end.

---

Follow Kareem Copeland on Twitter: www.twitter.com/KareemCopeland

---

AP College Football website: www.collegefootball.ap.org

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide—from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Andy Staples, Grant Wahl, and more—delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.