PROVO — With the conclusion of fall practices, coaches have largely determined which players will play and in what capacity. No, they don’t plan on releasing a two-deep until just before the first game against Washington State, but it’s become somewhat apparent which players it will consist of.
I’ve been to all but one practice session this fall and feel I have a pretty good idea of which players will be making up that two-deep roster. Here’s an overview of the expected two-deep roster on defense:
Right End–Eathyn Manumaleuna, 6-2, 288, Sr./Remington Peck, 6-4, 236 Fr.
Nose tackle–Romney Fuga, 6-2, 318 Sr./Mike Muehlmann, 6-4, 268 Jr.
Left End–Ian Dulan, 6-1, 271 Sr./Russell Tialavea, 6-3, 265 Sr.
Note: There will largely be a four-man rotation along the defensive front with Tialavea and Manumaleuna both potentially seeing time at nose tackle. Based on its success last season, look for Coach Bronco Mendenhall to go with a 2-4-5 alignment against pass-happy offenses, starting with Washington State.
Other options: Tui Crichton (6-3, 343 Fr.) is someone who could see reps at nose tackle while Bronson Kaufusi (6-7, 260 Fr.) is someone who is coming on strong and could see time at defensive end. Ezekial Ansah (6-6, 270 Sr.) was tried out at end during fall practices, and could be used there primarily during passing situations.
Mike linebacker–Uona Kaveinga, 5-11, 233, Sr./Zac Stout, 6-1, 217 So. or Austen Jorgensen, 6-2, 239 Sr.
Buck linebacker–Brandon Ogletree, 5-11, 228 Sr./Manoa Pikula, 6-1, 235 Fr. or Tyler Beck 6-1, 220 Jr.
Note: Uani Unga (6-1, 233) is right there as an option to play at both inside linebacker positions. It’s the most stacked position on the football team with many options Coach Paul Tidwell is comfortable with.
Other options: Due to the position’s strength, players such as Butch Pau’u (6-0, 211 Fr.) and Rhett Sandlin (6-2, 213 Fr.) will be hard-pressed for playing time although they have shown well during practices.
Sam linebacker–Spencer Hadley, 6-1, 227 Jr./Alani Fua, 6-5, 215 So.
Will linebacker–Kyle Van Noy, 6-3, 235 Jr./Ezekial Ansah, 6-6, 270 Sr. or Lene Lesatele, 6-2, 238 Fr.
Note: Fans can expect a fairly consistent rotation at Sam linebacker with Van Noy rarely leaving the field on the other side. When and how much Ansah will be used after completing a quiet fall practice session holds some intrigue.
Other options: Kevan Bills (6-3, 245 Fr.) saw some good practice reps early on and could become a factor along with Teu Kautai (6-1, 219 Fr.) True freshman Jherremya Leuta-Douyere (6-2, 236) is also an option.
Field corner–Jordan Johnson, 5-10, 185 So./DeQuan Everett, 6-3, 209 Sr.
Boundary corner–Preston Hadley, 6-0, 200 Sr./Skye PoVey, 5-11, 200 Jr.
Note: Senior Robbie Buckner is yet to practice and would provide backup duty behind Johnson at field if healthy.
Other options: Although the starters look solid, there isn’t a lot of depth at both cornerback positions. Adam Hogan (5-11, 180 Jr.) and Micah Hannemann (6-1, 185 Fr.) are likely the next two options for backup duty.
Free safety–Joe Sampson, 5-10, 203 Sr./Mike Hague, 5-10, 190 Sr. or Craig Bills, 6-1, 209 So.
Kat safety–Daniel Sorensen, 6-2, 215 Jr./Craig Bills, 6-1, 209 So.
Note: BYU should be using a nickel formation extensively this season with Bills and Hague looking to fill-in as the primary nickel back.
Other options: Like at corner, the options are limited at both safety positions beyond the two-deep roster. Matt Hadley (6-0, 190 Fr.) has looked good in spots, but isn’t someone you’d look at to garner playing time given his inexperience.