While at BYU, Ty Detmer passed for 5,188 yards and 41 touchdowns in 1990, finishing the year with 42 NCAA records and tying five others en route to winning the Heisman Trophy. The knowhow that helped Detmer back in 1990 achieve one of the greatest seasons for a quarterback in college football history is now being transferring to a new crop of BYU quarterbacks.
“We want to see the quarterbacks make the right reads and see it,” said Ty Detmer during media availability on Tuesday morning in Provo. “We know the execution is going to take some time, but we want to see if guys understand what we are doing and go to the right place.”
When it comes to his quarterbacks, the focus by Coach Detmer early on during spring ball is to evaluate their decision-making process while gauging their timing within a given passing play.
“The focus is just seeing us go to the right place at the right time,” said Detmer. “We’re not in pads so we’re not going to win any run plays. You’re protection is shaky just because the defense is flying off the ball and we’re not in pads to really go at it. We just want to see take the right steps in the right place.”
Over 14 seasons in the NFL, Detmer started in 25 games and played in 54. His greatest asset to the teams in which he played for didn’t come in the form of passing yards or touchdowns. Rather, his ability as a player-coach made him valuable to the teams that employed him. Having rubbed shoulders with multiple coaches from six NFL franchises, Detmer is ready to piece together years of offensive schemes and concepts into his own BYU offense.
“Oh, I think taking bits and pieces from all the coaches you’ve played for and all the places you’ve been,” said Detmer. “Then you kind of incorporate that into your own personality and your own style. You gain a lot of insight to different things from different coaches who have different ways of doing things. You take all of that and the good from it all and try and fit it into what you’re doing.”
The challenge for Detmer now is transmitting years of accumulated knowledge to his charges. One thing he’s learned throughout this new process is how rapid the players are picking up the X’s and O’s.
“Oh man, we’ve got some good players here,” said Detmer. “We had some good players here when I played here, obviously, but it’s all relative now. Kids get bigger, faster, and better and smarter as they go. Kids start playing PlayStation at an early age and making up their own offenses on there. So, they get it. Everything is bigger, faster, and everybody is more brighter so to speak. They get it.”
Despite the intellectual advantages of today’s college football players, teaching a new concepts and schemes isn’t without its challenges.
“Yeah, there’s that and where to line up and where emotions are supposed to be,” said Detmer. “There’s the whole reading the route and reading the coverage and the receiver has to do it too. The quarterbacks have to understand where the blitz is coming from and how to pick it up or how to get it out quickly. It’s just all the little things that make up the big picture. A lot of guys understand football. They get that part of it, but it’s learning all the little things that makes us really good.”
While playing for the Cleveland Browns, Detmer mentored rookie quarterback Tim Couch. He also had a hand in mentoring the passing game of Michael Vick and Matt Schaub while with the Atlanta Falcons and even helped Brett Favre while serving as his backup in Green Bay. Having Taysom Hill and Tanner Mangum at BYU, Detmer will have the responsibility of making a final decision on who to play come game time.
“Well, it’s easy right now,” Detmer said with a big Texas smile. “Right now Taysom isn’t taking any snaps. They’ll be fine as they get going and they’ve all got great attitudes. They work together and talk through it all and that’s what you want. They’re competing against themselves to get better and not each other. Then the coaches will decide.”
As BYU’s new offensive coordinator, Detmer’s traded in his camo and hunting rifle for a whistle and clipboard. While Detmer may no longer be tracking game on his T-14 Ranch in Texas, one thing is certain. He’s having a great time at BYU.
“Oh yeah,” Detmer said with a slight southern drawl, still smiling from ear to ear. “It’s been really good.”