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Five Takeaways From BYU’s Depth Chart Heading Into LA Tech Game

BYU DB Caleb Christensen warming up in pregame before the Cougars game against Troy on September 26th, 2020. (BYU Photo/Jaren Wilkey)

PROVO, Utah – The undefeated and No. 22 ranked BYU Cougars host the LA Tech Bulldogs on Friday, October 2nd in Provo. Like many matchups in this strange 2020 season, Friday night’s contest against LA Tech will be BYU’s first-ever meeting with the Bulldogs.

Each week the BYU coaching staff puts out a weekly depth chart heading into each game.

There are always some slight changes every week to the depth chart. Here are some takeaways I gleaned from this week’s depth chart for the matchup with the Bulldogs from the Bayou.

#1 Pair of former Herriman High standouts battling at right tackle

BYU graduate senior Tristen Hoge is still recovering from pneumonia. In replace of him against Troy was Chandon Herring, who slid in at right guard, leaving an opening at right tackle. True sophomore Blake Freeland got the start last Saturday against Troy. But he wasn’t the only player who took snaps at right tackle.

Freeland’s old teammate at Herriman High School, Harris LaChance, also took snaps in the Cougars win over Troy. The 6-foot-8 Freeland played in five more snaps over the 6-foot-7 LaChance. Either one could be the starter along an offensive that Pro Football Focus graded as the second-best offensive front in the country right now behind only Notre Dame.

#2 New name emerges at “CINCO”

Chaz Ah You is out for the remainder of the 2020 season after having surgery on a preexisting lower leg injury. Ah You is one of the more versatile athletes in BYU’s defense, it raised questions as to whether BYU would have the role moving forward.

George Udo, who was listed as Ah You’s backup, now moves up to the starter line after Udo is a new name at the CINCO spot. True freshman Caleb Christensen, a 5-foot-9, 193-pound speedster out of the Cache Valley.

Christensen has carved out a role in his first season with the Cougars as a return specialist, but now we could see him more in a hybrid spot that allows him to play both safety and cornerback.

#3 Cornerback shakeup

With Caleb Christensen listed at “CINCO” and Hayden Livingston suffering a concussion on the opening kickoff, some shuffling took place at the cornerback spot. Senior Chris Wilcox is listed as the starter at left cornerback.

Wilcox started in only his second game since 2018 last Saturday locking up Troy’s top receiver in Khalil McClain. At the opposite cornerback spot, there is now an -OR- between Keenan Ellis and true freshman Micah Harper.

Ellis started against Navy but was out against Troy for an undisclosed reason. Harper, in his first career start, made four tackles and stopped one of the six targets that were thrown to his side of the field.

D’Angelo Mandell, who was wearing a left knee brace, made his first appearance last week against Troy. He’s now listed as the backup to Wilcox at left cornerback, switching over from the right side. Behind Ellis and Harper is heralded Sophomore Isaiah Herron, who has yet to play this season.

#4 129 career starts on offense

BYU has been one of the most efficient offenses in college football this season. A big reason for that is the Cougars have a lot of experience. Based on the starters listed on this week’s depth chart, a total of 129 career starts are here within this group.

Here’s the breakdown of starts from highest to lowest.

Brady Christensen – 28

James Empey – 28

Zach Wilson – 18

Chandon Herring – 14

Blake Freeland – 8

Lopini Katoa – 8

Gunner Romney – 7

Clark Barrington – 6

Neil Pau’u – 5

Dax Milne – 4

Masen Wake (FB/TE) – 2

Isaac Rex – 1

#5 Linebackers are the heart of BYU’s defense

Just like the offense, the defense has been gaining valuable experience in the past few seasons. BYU’s linebackers or hybrid players –whichever way you want to classify them– continue to strengthen this team. Keenan Pili, Max Tooley, Isaiah Kaufusi, and Payton Wilgar have combined 280 total tackles in their careers, 21.5 tackles for loss, four sacks, and eight interceptions.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m., KSL Newsradio). Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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