BYU Football: Surprises in the latest depth chart

Oct 30, 2021; Provo, Utah, USA; Brigham Young Cougars head coach Kalani Sitake, left and Virginia Cavaliers head coach Bronco Mendenhall get together prior to their game at LaVell Edwards Stadium. Mendenhall is the former head coach at BYU. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

BYU Football released a new depth chart during the BYU Media Day.

This time of year is pretty bland in the sports world. MLB baseball is in the part of season where the fun of a new season has worn off and the playoffs are still so far away that common fans don’t get overly invested in the daily grind of the league.

Golf is fun, but even that is being tainted with the LIV tournament. The World Cup is being moved to winter so there isn’t any big international sporting event to get invested in either.

Because of that, events like BYU Football Media Day become a really big deal. Aside from the great interviews conducted by the BYUtv team with BYU legends like Jim McMahon, John Beck and coaches and athletic directors, perhaps the highlight for the fans was the newest release of the depth chart.

While there weren’t a ton of huge surprises to most fans on the surface, there are quite a few good gold nuggets that people who cover the team on a daily basis picked up on. I will share some of those and why they are so important.

1. 15 positions listed on Defense

Depth was a huge issue last year for the Cougars on the defensive side of the ball. A common fan mistake is to look at all the positions and then worry that there isn’t much depth when the backups aren’t well known (Josh Larsen, Tavita Gagnier). However, what is often overlooked is that there are more positions listed than there can be players on the field.

In this case, there are 17 players who when looked at, could be on the field as a starter and nobody would question it (Max Tooley has an -or- next to his name and Lorenzo Fauatea has started games) It is crazy that realistically BYU’s leading tackler, Ben Bywater, may not be on the field for the first snap against South Florida because of the Cougars may elect to play Ah You, Pili and Wilgar on the first drive.

While the depth chart doesn’t look deep, this group is very strong with at least 17 players who have starting experience and a dozen others who were asked to play significant time late in the season last year.

2. Not a bunch of ‘or’ for starters

Last season there was a bunch of ‘or’ positions essentially meaning that there wasn’t a clear starter. That could be a good or bad thing depending on the situation, but generally it is better to know who the starter is.

On offense, the skill positions are set, but the linemen have a bunch of ‘or’ spots. When looking deeper however, for the most part it is the same players at different positions meaning that the coaches have the line narrowed down to six or seven players, but aren’t sure where each one will be for sure. Perhaps this is to teach all the linemen to play every position in case of injury.

On defense, the only ‘or’ for a starting position is Max Tooley or Chaz Ah You. Odds are, they will both be on the field at the same time quite a bit this year.

3. No lingering injuries

For a team that was limping into Shreveport just six months ago, the team seems to be back, or at least very close to being back to 100% healthy again. It is possible that some of these players are still hurt and may not play in week one, however the outlook right now is at least good enough to put just about everyone onto the depth chart.