We’re just a few days away from the first game of the season and it feels like kickoff is that much closer with the release of the first official depth chart of 2019. There were a few position battles there were being decided in fall camp and this is our first preview as to which players have come out of top.
Here’s our breakdown of the major takeaways from this first two-deep chart...
- First and foremost, Ty’son Williams is listed as the starter at running back. As you’ll see in a lot of other places on the depth chart there are places where an OR indicates that a player is on equal footing with another teammate. Not the case here. Williams really impressed the team this fall and the coaches had lots of good things to say about him after the scrimmages. Lopini Katoa is listed second on the chart along with Emmanuel Esukpa.
Sitake said RB Ty'Son Williams "earned" the RB1 position, will start against Utah. Really high on all the RBs in the group.— Jay Drew (@drewjay) August 26, 2019
- Based on this chart there are four linebacker positions listed, which goes alongside the indication that BYU will be going back and forth between a 4-3 and 3-4 alignment. The middle linebacker spot was one of the biggest battles in camp and it looks like the coaches haven’t really sussed out who will be first chair. Keenan Pili and Jackson Kaufusi are listed as the top MLBs with Kavika Fonua and Patyon Wilgar as the ILBs. It sounds like there will be a rotation between those four, but the true signal of who is on top will be the player on the field when the Cougars line up in the 4-3.
- Isaiah Herron, who got dinged up in the most recent scrimmage, isn’t listed on the two deep at cornerback. Dayan Ghanwoloku and D’Angelo Mandell are the starters at corner. Two new faces to the program in Dimitri Gallow and George Udo are listed as backups behind Mandell and will see the field at some point. Beau Tanner, who left the program for a year, is back and listed as a backup to Dayan on the LC position.
Sitake said cornerback Isaiah Herron is "banged up" a bit and that's the reason he's not on the two deep. He said LC Beau Tanner and FS Hayden Livingston have played their way into 2-deep with gutty, competitive efforts in camp.— Jay Drew (@drewjay) August 26, 2019
- Speaking of cornerback, during the “Coordinators Corner” Coach Tuiaki mentioned that Troy Warner and Chris Wilcox will be missing the first few games and then will have their status evaluated.
#BYU DC Ilaisa Tuika says neither Troy Warner (foot) nor Chris Wilcox (knee) will play early in the season. "We could push them, but we prefer to let it be their idea” as to when they return. Both are very much redshirt candidates this season pending recovery timeline(s).— Locked on Cougars Podcast (@LockedOnCougars) August 26, 2019
- At defensive line, junior Zac Dawe has locked down one of the starting DE positions. Dawe is expected is to be one of BYU’s top pass rushers. Opposite of Dawe, Trajan Pili and Devin Kaufusi are listed as co-starters.
- On the offensive side, a couple of true freshman (not even the return missionary variety) have cracked this list, with Blake Freeland listed with the left tackles and Luc Andrada as a wide receiver. Both players are technically third in their respective positions, but obviously made an impression in order to be listed on the depth chart.
- Along the offensive line, the two position battles — RG and RT — still aren’t publicly sorted out. Chandon Herring and Kieffer Longson are listed as co-starters at LG, and Harris LaChance and Keanu Saleapaga are co-starters at RT. Saleapaga started 8 games last year at guard, but coaches apparently see him as a better fit at RT.
- Tight end brings some good news, with Moroni Laulu-Pututau listed as the number two tight end behind Matt Bushman. MLP recently began practicing again as he recovers from ACL surgery, and having him versus Utah would be a nice boost for the offense. Seeing TE Joe Tukuafu as the #3 TE is nice as well. Tukuafu is nimble for his 6-foot-4, 265 pounds frame and is a good blocker who can also go out and catch the occasional pass.
- At wide receiver, Micah Simon worked his way up the depth chart and is listed as a co-starter with Gunner Romney. Talon Shumway has the opposite side locked up, with freshman Keanu Hill — one of the surprises of Fall Camp — opposite him. Aleva Hifo is the starter at slot, but look for Dax Milne to be a key cog in the offense.
- Jake “The Make” Oldroyd is back from Chile and ready to take on multiple special teams duties as he is listed as the starting place kicker and punter. Apparently the two years away from the game allowed him to fully heal from some back issues and he’s finally at full health. Skyler Southam will still be handling the kickoff duties.
- Speaking of specialists, starters Aleva Hifo and Dayan Ghanwoloku are listed as the top two kickoff and punt returners. It’s always a risk to put starters on special teams but it looks like Ed Lamb wants the most capable players on the field for those situations. Gunner Romney and Tyler Allgeier are also listed as kick returners.