BYU Football Found Answers For Biggest Position Battle On Defense
Aug 31, 2021, 12:52 AM | Updated: 11:48 pm
(BYU Photo/Jaren Wilkey)
PROVO, Utah – After the quarterback position, the safety spot was the biggest BYU football battle in camp as the Cougars looked to replace two NFL-caliber athletes in Zayne Anderson and Troy Warner at that spot.
The past month during Camp Kalani practices gave BYU coaches clarity on the direction they’d go at safety when they face Arizona on Saturday night.
BYU’s two starters at safety will be Chaz Ah You at strong safety and Malik Moore at free safety. Both players were viewed as the top candidates to win the jobs going into camp; now they’ve locked those down.
— Mitch Harper (@Mitch_Harper) August 30, 2021
Chaz Ah You & Malik Moore will start at safety
“Since spring practice Malik Moore and Chaz Ah You, they’ve been the most experienced, and they’ve held onto the job. So definitely they’ll be out there on the first play and have every opportunity to play as much as possible,” said BYU safeties coach Ed Lamb on Coordinators’ Corner. “I’m really excited about what they’ll bring, and I like our depth too.”
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At 6-foot-2, 206-pounds, Ah You is a former four-star recruit that is just scratching the surface of his potential as a football player. Last season, he appeared in only one game, the season-opening win over Navy, before opting to have surgery on a lower-leg injury.
Now healthy, Ah You looks poised to be one of the stars of a BYU defense that is looking to follow up on last year’s unit that was top ten nationally in scoring defense.
Ah You has endless potential
“Chaz, as a young player, without a lot of college experience, he’s made plays,” said Lamb. “…I think there are certain times where you coach a player to be in the right position. You feel good about that. Chaz is one of those guys who’ll stay within the scheme, but he also has great instincts and knows how to get to the ball. He’s done that before; we expect them to do it again.”
Malik Moore has only started in four games during his BYU career. His last starts came in 2019 where he switched back and forth between cornerback and safety. He’s only started two games at the safety spot, with the last first-team nod on the opening play coming in the Hawaii Bowl. Moore has been praised as a versatile athlete within BYU’s roster. He even joked in March he was good enough to throw his name in the ring for the quarterback battle.
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Moore has recorded two interceptions, 26 tackles, and one pass breakup during the past three seasons throughout his BYU career.
Depth for BYU football at safety
“They have great instincts. They practiced well and made a lot of plays,” BYU head coach Kalani Sitake said on why Ah You and Moore won the starting nod. “We feel good about those guys leading the way in the secondary. We feel good about the depth of the corner and safety spots.”
Behind Ah You at strong safety are Mitchell Price, Ammon Hannemann, and Matt Criddle. Price earned a lot of second-team reps early in camp and maintained it throughout the month. A former cornerback, Price has been on BYU’s roster since 2017.
Lamb pointed out Ammon Hannemann as one of the most improved players on defense during fall camp. Hannemann is the younger brother to former BYU safety Micah Hannemann. Like his older brother, Ammon is a quality athlete coming out of Lone Peak High School.
After Moore at free safety, Hayden Livingston and Jared Kapisi bring a lot of game snaps to the safety room for a BYU football program ready to take the field in 2021.
BYU vs. Arizona (2021 Vegas Classic)
Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. (MT)
Radio: KSL NewsRadio (102.7 FM, 1160 AM)
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 pm) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.
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