BYU Notebook: Laulu-Pututau Expected Back, Top Trash Talkers
PROVO, Utah – The dog days of BYU football fall camp is upon us. The Cougars completed day 12 of practice on Tuesday and it was another hot late afternoon at the Student-Athlete Building practice fields.
BYU head coach Kalani Sitake acknowledged that these are the dog days, but the balance of veteran and young players has continued to bring urgency to practices.
“We have a lot of young guys but we have a lot of mature guys that have a lot of experience and I think that becomes infectious when those guys show a lot of excitement for being on the field,” Sitake said. “So far it’s been really good and our guys are learning and I like the energy that they are bringing to the field every day.”
One of those guys that will bring some additional energy to the field is senior tight end Moroni Laulu-Pututau.
Moroni Laulu-Pututau update
Senior tight end Moroni Laulu-Pututau has been dealing with academics and recovery from an injury that has sidelined him so far through camp. Kalani Sitake said to the general media that they are “close” with Laulu-Pututau. Offensive Coordinator Jeff Grimes told me in a one-on-one interview that they expect Laulu-Pututau to be back this week to practice.
Laulu-Pututau had 14 receptions for 120 yards before going down with a season-ending knee injury against the Washington Huskies last year in Seattle. Pututau will give BYU the one-two punch they want at tight end as he’s paired up with junior Matt Bushman.
Bushman v. Ghanwoloku & Trash Talking
Speaking of BYU’s star tight end, Matt Bushman, him and Dayan Ghanwoloku were exchanging some smack talk with each other in some 7-on-7 work. All in good, clean, competition. Neither wanted to let the other get the upper hand. Ghanwoloku was called for pass interference by the refs on one of the plays in the endzone where Bushman was looking to go up and get the ball.
Later on in 7-on-7 work, Ghanwoloku got the better of Bushman recording a pass breakup.
According to linebacker Isaiah Kaufusi, Ghanwoloku and some of the other cornerbacks -D’Angelo Mandell and Isaiah Herron- are the top trash talkers on this year’s team. Only fitting that the cornerbacks would be the guys that like to get into the mind of the opposition. When you’re out on an island all by yourself, you have to talk to someone, right?
Who will emerge at Mike Linebacker?
There has been what feels like a revolving door of candidates to possibly be the starter at Mike Linebacker for BYU in 2019. With the talent at the outside linebacker spots, BYU just needs an adequate consistent option at the inside linebacker spot. The top three options appear to be Kavika Fonua, Payton Wilgar, and now a rising name in this mix Keenan Pili.
Pili is a redshirt freshman who is the younger brother to senior defensive end Trajan Pili. Another possibility is redshirt freshman Jackson Kaufusi. Kaufusi’s older brother, Isaiah, said he’s not too worried who emerges as the starting linebacker because he feels there is enough talent at that spot for that position to potentially become a strength in the season.
Right Tackle competition
Redshirt freshman Harris LaChance is emerging as a potential starter at right tackle for BYU when the Cougars line up against rival Utah on August 29th. The biggest threat to potentially beating out LaChance is Chandon Herring who is one of the best overall athletes in the offensive line room. But right now, I would give the edge to LaChance if the season started today.
Battle at Strong Safety
Based on 7-on-7 work, Sawyer Powell was lining up with Austin Lee during the media observation portion of practice. Powell is an experienced veteran and knows BYU’s defense inside and out. The guy pushing him is sophomore Malik Moore. Moore is one of the fastest players on the team and has made significant strides this season receiving a lot of praise from safeties coach Preston Hadley. The third option is Beau Tanner. Tanner was sidelined on Tuesday due to an illness which kept him out of practice.
During the media observation portion, quarterback Joe Critchlow threw a touchdown pass to tight end Matt Bushman who made a one-handed grab to haul the ball in and secure possession for the score.
Offensive lineman injured
Walk-on offensive tackle Brayden Keim from Alta High School has been sidelined due to an undisclosed injury. Keim played at tight end earlier this spring before getting moved over to the offensive line with coach Eric Mateos.
Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12-3 pm) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.