The G-Queue

When Brandon Gurney asked subscribers if they had any questions for him about BYU fall camp, the response was immediate and overwhelming. With dozens of questions in queue, the G-man responded to as many of them as he could. He covered a wide variety of topics in the process, including standout newcomers, special teams play, and depth chart movement.

Which first-year players look to break the two-deep depth chart this year?

- Roger H.

The depth chart has not been set quite yet, but the players who will crack the two-deep have become clearer. Nose tackle Romney Fuga appears to be the surest bet of all the incoming freshmen defensive players. Along with Fuga, you can expect Matangi Tonga to see time as well as Ian Dulan. In the secondary, Andre Saulsberry and Robbie Buckner both have real shots at breaking the two-deep heading into the final week of practices.

On the offensive side you can look for freshmen Mike Hague and McKay Jacobson to see time as part of the Cougar receiving rotation. Harvey Unga has certainly proved capable of seeing time as well, although he is a prime redshirt candidate. Outside of those three, I do not foresee any other incoming players to break the two-deep on offense.

Let us know how the punters and place kickers are doing. Who will be the special teams stars?

- David W.

The kicking game looks great with Derek McLaughlin handling the punting an Jared McLaughlin as the primary place kicker. Derek lets fly some of the prettiest punts you will ever see, but in-game consistency has been his problem since coming back from his mission. If he can stay play like he practices, he will be one of the best in the country. He is looking good this fall, especially on the directional kicks.

Jared proved to be a solid kicker last year, and this fall, he looks to have added some distance. Mitch Payne has been kicking a lot and looks to be a good option both punting and kicking after the McLaughlins move on.

McKay Jacobson and Mike Hague look to be the options to return kicks. Both have big-play ability and should bring some much-needed excitement to the return teams.

Talk about the wide receiver progression this fall.

- Ryan B.

Not much to talk about other than the rotation from the spring will be the same as it is this fall with the primary rotation consisting of Zac Collie, Michael Reed, McKay Jacobson and Matt Allen. The first person off the bench will likely be Matt Smith, who has regained his form after his ACL injury. Also, Brett Cooper has quietly had a very productive fall camp.

What have you seen so far that could potentially be a weakness or threat to the success of the season?

- Ryan P.

Offensively, a continuation of the fumbled and high snaps we saw this past Saturday would pose a problem. Another concern would be a legitimate deep-threat that can stretch the field and open things up underneath. McKay Jacobson seems to be up for that role, but he has to prove it on the field.

Defensively, the secondary looks like the weakest link, however, the defensive backs are noticeably better than last year, and the 3-4 takes some pressure off them too.

What are the differences between Coach Hill and Coach Mitchell?

- Jim N.

The biggest difference is how they teach and run through drills with their players. While Mitchell was a bit less engaged, Coach Hill is highly active coaching at every turn and running around with his players showing them proper technique. The defense has 12 men on the field during 11-on-11 drills because Coach Hill is out there calling to his guys to get them in the right place. In short, Coach Hill is far more hands on in his coaching style than Coach Mitchell was.

Development of Saulsberry from day one up to now?

- Ryan O.

Saulsberry showed from day one that he has the goods to play cornerback. He has decent size and very quick feet. What he lacked coming in was proper conditioning and knowledge of the system.

Saulsberry is starting to see more reps with the twos, but he needs to start making plays in practice if he will unseat either of the starters or even secure a permanent spot on the two-deep. What Saulsberry does not lack is confidence, which by itself can take you a long way as a cornerback. He is also a very vocal supporter of his teammates.

Who is the best option at HR if all are healthy?

- Ryan O.

Nathan Meikle. Meikle has the experience and chemistry with John Beck that you cannot replace. If healthy, Meikle is the best option at slot receiver because it is the position that the quarterback leans on most in this system. A good receiver needs to have precise-timing, precise route-running and good hands. Meikle has all three.

Will So'oto redshirt?

- Ryan O.

The coaches will decide three games in regarding So'oto's redshirt option and most other's options to redshirt as well. It will go by a need basis.

Anything and everything about the Tonga brothers.

- Ryan O,

BYU is extremely lucky to have both Manase and Matangi in the program. Manase may be the most consistent performer in fall camp thus far. Last year, he proved to be a very capable lead-blocker out of the backfield. This year, he is moving beyond that role. He is the best receiving back in the program, and he moves like a tailback in the open field. Manase will be a big part of the offense for the next three years.

Matangi's talent has started to shine through in recent weeks. He plays like a healthy Manaia Brown. He is a special talent.

What does the two-deep look like at offensive line?

- Tom P.

At this point, the starters are Dallas Reynolds and Eddie Keele at tackle, Jake Kuresa and Ray Feinga at guard with Sete Aulai at center. The best backups are David Oswald and Nick Longshore at tackle, Travis Bright and Erik Freeman at guard, and Jeff Rhea at center. Reynolds and Kuresa are taking reps as with the threes at center.

What will be interesting in the next two weeks is to see if any of the impressive incoming offensive linemen can stick on the two-deep. Braden Hansen would have been the best candidate had he not been injured forcing him to sit out all of last week. The new OLs seeing the most time with the twos and threes thus far have been Walter Kahaialii, Garrett Reden and Ryan Freeman.

What do you think BYU's record will be this year?

- Robert H.


Which CBs will be the boundary and field corners? What are the main responsibilities of both? - Casey M.

The field corners are Justin Robinson, Robbie Buckner, Brandon Howard and Andre Saulsberry. The boundary corners are Kayle Buchanan, Ben Criddle, Nate Hutchinson and Tico Pringle.

How is Mosese Foketi doing?

- David R.

It took him a while to get acclimated physically, but he has started to show better with every practice. The defensive linemen in front of him are not giving up any ground so Foketi's work is definitely cut out for him in regards to entering the regular rotation at defensive line.

How is Nate Hutchinson doing?

He is rotating with the threes, but he has yet to make any significant movement up the depth chart to this point. Hutchinson has size and a degree of physicality that most of the other corners lack, which is a plus for him. He will have to make a lot of noise this coming week if he is to break the two-deep anytime soon.

How far away is Wagner?

- Jeff H.

Aaron Wagner is seeing a lot of reps with the ones due to Markell Staffieri's injury. Wagner has progressively gotten better with every practice as he gains confidence in his surgically repaired knee. Wagner's upside is enormous and I look for him to make some more noise this coming week as he finally resembles his old self out there.

How close are Meikle and Mahuika to being 100%?

- Jeff H.

Meikle says he is about 85% right now, but could play. Both are expected to practice this coming week and be ready to go against Arizona.

Will Hague see playing time if they cannot go?

- Jeff H.

Absolutely. Hague has proven to be a capable player and should see some playing time even if Meikle and Mahuika are healthy.


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