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Five Takeaways From BYU Football Depth Chart Heading Into WKU Game

BYU defensive lineman Uriah Leiataua. (Nate Edwards/BYU Photo)

PROVO, Utah – The No. 11 ranked BYU football team released another depth chart this week as they prepare to host the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers from Conference-USA.

BYU is 6-0 and continues to perform as one of the nation’s hottest teams during the 2020 college football season.

Each week the BYU football coaching staff puts out a weekly depth chart heading into each game. There are usually some slight changes every week to the depth chart. With that said, here are some of my takeaways I gleaned while observing this week’s depth chart for the first-ever meeting between BYU and WKU.

#1 Moving in, moving out along the offensive line

Going into last week’s game against Texas State, offensive line coach Eric Mateos wanted his group to compete and avoid complacency, so a bunch of -ORs- dotted the offensive line depth chart. This week, a little more clarity with a few changes.

Backing up All-American candidate Brady Christensen at left tackle is Keanu Saleapaga. Saleapaga returned from an injury two weeks ago and took his first snaps in the win over Texas State. Last season, Saleapaga started in 11 games, with six of those starts coming at right tackle and the other five at left guard.

Utah transfer Mo Unutoa was the backup to Christensen throughout the season to this point; he’s not listed on the depth chart this week.

At center, James Empey is still recovering from a lower-body injury that has him in a boot right now. He’s questionable this week against WKU. Joe Tukuafu is listed as an -OR- with Empey. Behind Tukuafu is true freshman Connor Pay who has been in BYU’s second unit at the offensive line since fall camp. A three-star prospect out of Lone Peak High had offers from Power 5 schools before serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

After Pay, true freshman Seth Willis is another option at center. Tristen Hoge is another option. Hoge made his first return to action last week since the Navy win to open the season.

#2 An Underrated -OR- at Defensive End

BYU’s defensive ends have been a pleasant surprise in 2020. Zac Dawe has been a star and might be one of the best defensive ends in college football this season. He’s been a key cog in BYU’s rush defense that is only giving 88 yards per game.

There’s been some jockeying for movement on the depth chart behind Dawe, but it’s primarily been Gabe Summers as the No. 2 DE. This week, Summers is listed as an -OR- with redshirt freshman Seleti Fevaleaki. Fevaleaki is a name that the recruiting die-hards had known about for years because he literally received an offer from Kalani Sitake and Ilaisa Tuiaki when they were at Utah, then Oregon State, and finally BYU.

Fevaleaki has added a lot of weight since returning home from his mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Between Fevaleaki and Summers competing for snaps should make for competitive depth that, in return, makes these players better down the road this season into the future.

#3 Welcome Back, “Lopa”

Redshirt senior Uriah Leiataua, a.k.a. “Lopa,” is back on the depth chart for the first time this season. Leiataua is listed in a three-way -OR- at the outside edge with Alden Tofa and Tyler Batty. Tofa played well last week in the Cougars win over Texas State. Freshman Batty was out due to injury. He was in a boot on his left foot on the sideline during the game last Saturday.

Leiataua suffered an injury during fall camp that derailed what was looking to be his breakout season as a senior. Throughout his career, Leiataua has battled injuries, and towards the end of last year, he was playing at 100 percent for the first time in his career. Leiataua has played in two games this season and could be a key piece along BYU’s defensive front down the season’s home stretch.

#4 Another Wilson Appears on the Depth Chart

True freshman linebacker Josh Wilson is listed this week as the second-string MIKE LB behind Keenan Pili. Wilson, the younger brother to BYU football QB Zach Wilson, has yet to appear in a game this season.

The Corner Canyon star set school records in career tackles (234), single-season tackles (130 in 2019), and tackles in a game (19). Wilson also had eight career interceptions and 6.5 sacks during his prep career with the Chargers.

#5 FLASH shakeup

With redshirt freshman Ben Bywater suffering a torn labrum in practice leading up to the UTSA game, he has officially been ruled out for the season. Replacing the former Olympus High star is another in-state product in Jackson Kaufusi.

Kaufusi has played in three games this season and has recorded six total tackles on the year.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com 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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