PROVO, Utah -- There's nothing unusual about the backup quarterback wearing a coach's headset on the sideline, but BYU had a deeper plan with that.
Tanner Mangum wore the headset as the No. 2 behind Taysom Hill in 2016 because coach Kalani Sitake and offensive coordinator Ty Detmer were thinking ahead to 2017.
BYU began spring practices inside its enclosed practice facility Monday as a snowstorm blanketed the area. Mangum is now the clear-cut No. 1 quarterback and the hope is he learned from listening last season.
"You get kind of the coaches' perspective from things," Detmer said. "He's hearing my thinking when a play is called, knowing what I expect the reads to be. ... Then after the play, we should have done this or we should have looked here or, man, he had the flat. That kind of thing. But I think more than anything, just hearing the constant communication from coaches and what you're thinking between series and what the defense is doing so he's putting a picture with what he's hearing."
Mangum is in a completely new situation this spring.
Last year, he was learning a new system after Sitake replaced Bronco Mendenhall. Hill was hurt at the time, but Mangum knew there'd be an open competition with Hill in the fall.
Mangum set BYU freshman records for passing yards (3,377) and touchdown passes (23) in 2015 with Hill hurt.
The job is now completely Mangum's.
"It helps with the confidence," Mangum said. "Just knowing that you're going to get the majority of the reps. That's what helps with the confidence -- practice, repetitions, making sure you're getting all the reps you can get. I'm just excited. Feeling motivated. Feeling really focused this offseason on getting better. Not only myself, but as an offense. We had a good season this last year. We're just trying to build off that."
Mangum said he spent the offseason trying to master the offense and get stronger. The system will be tweaked to take advantage of the junior's skills. Detmer brought a pro-style system to the Cougars, but Hill was such an electric runner that the read-option and specific quarterback runs remained part of the offense. Detmer said there will likely be more run-pass options than run-run options with Mangum.
Sitake and Detmer said Mangum had a strong first day and was considerably ahead of 2016. He now knows the system, the audibles and where teammates should be lined up and how to communicate it all.
"For Day 1, it's amazing," Sitake said.
Sitake believes that time spent on the headsets last season will "pay huge dividends for us." He said the staff put an emphasis on that type of advance preparation for Mangum because of Detmer's experiences as an NFL backup.
"He (Detmer) was a starter here and won the Heisman and all that," Sitake said. "But when he was in the NFL, he played that role of being that support for Brett Favre and all those other quarterbacks that he's been able to mentor along the way, Steve Young. I'm hearing from Steve how great Ty was for him in the NFL.
"It's an easy transition for him as an offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach because he was already doing that for 14 years in the NFL and doing it with some great ones."
BYU finished last season 9-4 and Mangum started the Poinsettia Bowl after Hill was hurt. He mentioned that his confidence has increased without Hill, the long-time established leader, in the room.
Detmer said this situation has allowed Mangum to grow.
"It's a whole different mindset for a guy," Detmer said. "Last year was an awkward situation because Taysom is sitting there, didn't do a lot in spring and Tanner's getting the work, but not feeling sure of how it's going to go. So you're always a little cautious to really jump in and be a full-blown leader of the team with somebody else sitting there that you're competing against.
"He's a totally different person this year. ... It's a different mentality and I'm sure one that he's really embraced and really enjoys that part of it."