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BYU Depth Chart: Position Battles Highlight Two-Deep For USU Game

Oct 29, 2019, 11:24 AM | Updated: 10:50 pm
Photo courtesy of BYU Photo/Jaren Wilkey...
Photo courtesy of BYU Photo/Jaren Wilkey

PROVO, Utah – BYU is looking to end a two-game losing streak in the series against rival Utah State. The Aggies have handled the Cougars in the past two meetings.

This Saturday’s game in the Cache Valley is a critical game for BYU as they look to prove that their upset victory over Boise State was not a fluke.

Like any team in college football heading into the month of November, BYU has its fair share of injuries. Those injuries have led to some position battles in this rivalry week. Including the most visible position at quarterback.

Here are some depth chart notes for BYU heading into this week’s rivalry game against Utah State.

Quarterback

The big story on the BYU side of the Wagon Wheel Rivalry is who will play at quarterback? Redshirt freshmen Jaren Hall and Baylor Romney will both get reps this week with the first and second units. Both showed well in their first career starts respectively the past two games.

Hall has had a far greater number of first-team reps that dates back to the spring compared to Romney.

After Hall and Romney, Joe Critchlow is currently the third-string quarterback and then Rhett Reilly is the fourth-string. After Reilly, it would be wide receiver Talon Shumway.

Running Back

Two weeks ago, former Kearns High star Sione Finau broke onto the BYU scene with a career-high 89 yards rushing.  It was the best performance from a BYU running back since Ty’Son Williams suffered a season-ending ACL injury back in September.

Now there’s a full-fledged competition to be the starter this week against the Aggies. Finau, Lopini Katoa, and Emmanuel Esukpa all have or’s next to their names on BYU’s depth chart this week.

All three backs will likely play this weekend, but who gets the most carries is up in the air this week. Esukpa, who only played one snap against Boise State, is now healthy and will be available this Saturday.

Offensive Line

Last season, BYU’s offensive line had the same five players throughout the entire 13 game season. No one missed time due to injuries. This year has been a different story. Five of BYU’s top eight offensive linemen have suffered injuries. Only one (Thomas Shoaf) is a season-ending injury.

With the handful of injuries, it’s led to a few or’s along the line.

At right guard, it will either be Tristen Hoge or Clark Barrington. Barrington has started the last two games. According to BYU offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes, Hoge’s return date is not known yet.

Staying on the right side of the offensive line, there are some questions at right tackle. Keanu Saleapaga is questionable this weekend against Utah State. Saleapaga started in the first six games this season before going down against USF. True freshman Blake Freeland stepped in for Saleapaga in BYU’s win over Boise State.

With Freeland’s emergence, redshirt freshman Harris LaChance now moves from right tackle to backup left tackle behind Brady Christensen.

Defensive Line

Some shuffling taking place at the defensive end and outside edge spots. The starters remain the same with Bracken El-Bakri at DE and Devin Kaufusi at OE. The reserves behind those guys are where the movement is happening.

Zac Dawe, who was a starter at the beginning of the season, is now an or with redshirt sophomore Alden Tofa at defensive end. At the outside edge, senior Trajan Pili who started in week one against Utah is now third-string outside edge behind Kaufusi and Uriah Leiataua.

Cornerback

BYU senior Chris Wilcox is practicing this week. Wilcox dressed for practice the week of the USF game and has been progressing in his recovery from an injury that ended his season early a year ago.

Wilcox has a redshirt year available to use. The three-year starter is one of the top NFL Draft prospects on BYU’s current roster.

If Wilcox doesn’t play this week at Utah State, Isaiah Herron and Shamon Willis are projected to be the starters against the Aggies.

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.

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