BYU Soccer: Cougars hope to complete depth chart this week

The first scrimmage of Saturday’s preseason training camp basically confirmed what BYU’s seventh-year coach Kalani Sitake already knew about his 2022 football team.

“This is a very competitive team right now,” Sitake said after watching 84 games of scrimmage and another about 20 games from special teams at LaVell Edwards Stadium. “I think we have an idea of ​​who our main players are.”

Still, there are a few battles for position, from starters to key backups and who will make up the traveling roster when the Cougars hit the road for the Sept. 3 opener at USF in less than three weeks.

“I’d like to see our depth chart set in a week.” — BYU football coach Kalani Sitake.

“Yes, I would like to see some separation in the competition,” Sitake said when asked what he hopes to accomplish in the second half of fall camp.

“Basically who are we going to go with in terms of our (representation) packages, our staff groups? Who will take the leading roles? Who’s in the rotation? What will the depth look like?”

Sitake said he’d like to see answers to those questions, a depth chart “quite dejected” by the end of this week. Like last week, this week’s training sessions will end with another scrimmage in the stadium.

“In a week, I’d like to see our depth maps,” Sitake said Saturday afternoon.

Neither Sitake nor offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick would specifically reveal what positions are still up for grabs, but there are some obvious ones to those who’ve been watching closely.

Perhaps most heated is the strong safety, where three or four guys are in the running to become Malik Moore’s senior free safety running mate.

Sophomore Ammon Hannemann, converted cornerback Micah Harper, freshman Talan Alfrey and junior Hayden Livington (listed as Moore’s backup at free safety on the latest depth chart) are the likely candidates.

Some of the defensive line spots are still in question, but since defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki has said he plans to rotate six to nine players along the line every game, being named there as a starter isn’t that important.

Sitake said Saturday that Gabe Summers, Earl Tuioti-Mariner, Tyler Batty and Lorenzo Fauatea performed well at scrimmage.

Others in the group include Blake Mangelson, John Nelson, Alden Tofa, Fisher Jackson, Josh Larsen and newcomer Aisea Moa. Junior Atunaisa Mahe is yet to join the team and is currently absent from the squad due to injury issues.

“Yeah, they’re doing great,” Sitake said of his defensive line. “They will be fine. A guy like Josh Larsen, he doesn’t even look the same boy compared to last year and he’s young.

“They have (Tyler) Batty who was disruptive today. He was difficult to block. Gabe Summers did some really good stuff up front. Earl Tuioti Mariner too. It was nice to see Zo (Fauatea) on the field. There are many great bodies that are capable and have a lot of experience.”

On offense, the question arises as to which of eight experienced and talented offensive linemen will win the five starting spots.

“I’d say probably another week before we start to settle on who our starting fives are or who our starting eights or starting sevens might be,” Roderick said. “I don’t know what that will look like yet. There are some good players in this group.”

Roderick has said that Jacob Conover has been the backup quarterback for months, but he has hinted that Cade Fennegan and Boise State dual threat ace Sol-Jay Maiava-Peters have been in a close fight for QB3.

Fennegan has more reps on Saturday than Maiava-Peters and more reps with the players in the two-deep for what it’s worth.

“I thought Jacob looked balanced. We put him in some difficult positions. Had a penalty that kind of ruined a ride he was involved in,” Sitake said.

“But from what I’ve seen Jacob has improved tremendously from spring until now and then Fennegan has played really well. He just looks like this. I thought he was really good on offense and communicating well.”

Receivers Puka Nacua and Gunner Romney did not play on Saturday; Sitake said coaches already know what these guys can do.

Sitake said Brayden Cosper and Chase Roberts are also in the two depths. Also believed to be sophomore Kody Epps, although he didn’t see any action on Saturday.

Roderick said that walk-on receiver Tanner Wall has an excellent stock.

“I wouldn’t be at all surprised if (Wall) turned out to be a good player for us,” Roderick said. “He does a lot of good things in training. I’m very confident that he will be a good special teams player.

“He tries really hard all the time and he loves to hit. He could probably play defense if he had to. You can’t have enough guys like that on your team.”

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