Five Takeaways From BYU Depth Chart Heading Into Houston Game

Oct 12, 2020, 5:41 PM | Updated: 5:45 pm
Jake Oldroyd - BYU Football...
BYU kicker Jake Oldroyd makes a 54-yard field goal in the Cougars win over Troy on September 26th, 2020. (BYU Photo/Jaren Wilkey)
(BYU Photo/Jaren Wilkey)

PROVO, Utah – No. 14 ranked BYU released another depth chart this week as they travel again to take on the Houston Cougars at TDECU Stadium. The Cougars in blue are 4-0 and facing a Houston squad that just started its 2020 season a week ago in a win over Tulane.

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 third all-time matchup with Houston.

#1 James Empey still listed as starting center heading into BYU/Houston game

Junior star center James Empey has missed the past two weeks due to injury. Last week against UTSA, Empey was dressed and available to play in an “emergency-only” basis. Both head coach Kalani Sitake and offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes said that Empey was getting close to returning. This is good news for BYU as they prepare for a Houston defense who produced six sacks in its season-opener last week against Tulane.

In replace of Empey, the past two weeks have been third-string center Joe Tukuafu, who entered the season behind Empey and Tristen Hoge and played in his first-ever offensive line reps a live football game the past two games.

#2 Sione Finau not on the depth chart, but he’s close to returning

Like Empey, last year’s leader in rushing yards, Sione Finau, is getting close to returning to action. On Monday, Grimes said he wouldn’t be surprised if Finau, a redshirt sophomore from Kearns, played this week or next.

Finau suffered an ACL injury last November and has been slowly working his way back in practice these past two weeks.

Once BYU gets Finau back, he joins a backfield led by Tyler Allgeier (391 yards) and Lopini Katoa (215) and reserves Miles Davis and walk-on Chase Wester.

#3 Jake Oldroyd ready to return to starting kicker role

Sophomore kicker Jake Oldroyd missed last week’s win against UTSA due to a “minor injury,” according to Special Teams Coordinator Ed Lamb. Oldroyd attempted a few kicks in warmups this past Saturday but was a late scratch from the lineup before the Cougars game with the Roadrunners. Lamb stated Oldroyd could have played, but they decided to keep him out.

Walk-on Justen Smith replaced Oldroyd and missed one of his PAT attempts in the win over UTSA. Oldroyd is back this week, where he will be handling field goals and kickoffs. To this point of the season, Oldroyd is perfect on field goals making all five of his attempts. Including a 54-yard kick against Troy last month.

#4 Depth along the defensive line after Fauatea

With Lorenzo Fauatea suffering an injury that put him on crutches during BYU’s win against UTSA, he’s now out for the remainder of the season. BYU still had Fauatea listed on the weekly depth chart in his usual backup spot at tackle and nose. Still, with him not available, BYU will turn to other reserves to fill the hybrid DT/NG/DE role that Fauatea plays in the Cougar defense.

Keep an eye out for Gabe Summers, one of the top performers along the defensive line during fall camp. Summers had BYU’s lone sack against UTSA and appeared in 19 snaps last week.

Caden Haws and Earl Tuioti-Mariner are some of BYU’s top reserves in the line’s interior when giving Khyiris Tonga and Bracken El-Bakri quick breaks.

#5 Trio of wide receivers leading the way

In previous years, BYU rotated a lot of different players at wide receiver. That hasn’t been the case in 2020 as the top three receivers are clear-cut in this high-powered BYU offense.

Gunner Romney, Dax Milne, and Neil Pau’u are BYU’s top three receivers, and they’ve had the tall order of replacing the top three wideouts who were all senior’s last year. Romney, who ranks fourth nationally in receiving yards with 453 to date, has played in 181 of BYU’s 294 offensive snaps this season.

Milne is not far behind at 175 snaps, with Neil Pau’u playing 155 of the possible 294 snaps. After the top three, the next closest receiver is Brayden Cosper, a backup behind Romney on the depth chart. He’s appeared in 81 snaps to date this season and has received praise from Jeff Grimes as one of the most improved players on offense in 2020.

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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