BYU’s defense will take a hit tonight versus Houston as defensive tackle Khyiris Tonga will miss the game with a non-COVID related illness. Jake Hatch of 1280 The Zone first reported the news.
Bad news for #BYU - Senior star nose tackle Khyiris Tonga did not make the trip to Houston with the rest of the team.— Jake Hatch 哈雅各 (@JacobCHatch) October 16, 2020
He will miss tomorrow night’s game. As previously reported, Tonga had hardly practiced this week. Per a source, he has a non-COVID-related illness #BYUfootball
Ben Criddle of ESPN 960 reported this week that Tonga hardly practiced this week due to the illness. DT Lorenzo Fauatea announced earlier this week that he will miss the season due to injury, so BYU will be thin on the interior defensive line.
Without Tonga and Fauatea, BYU will likely go with more 3-man fronts. Linebacker is BYU’s deepest position on defense, so BYU can rotate multiple guys among the 4 spots there.
Tonga’s presence will be missed most in run defense. Houston ran the ball well versus Tulane, so not having Tonga in there will hurt. Guys like Bracken El-Bakri, Gabe Summers, and Caden Haws will likely fill Tonga’s void. One source told Vanquish the Foe that offensive lineman Kieffer Longson has been receiving reps at DT and could see playing time there as well. Longson is 6-foot-7 and one of the tallest players on BYU’s roster.
Tonga is arguably BYU’s best defensive player and is no doubt a loss along the defensive line. BYU has more depth this year than any other year during the Kalani Sitake era, and that will certainly be put to the test when they take on Houston.