BYU football: Inexperienced secondary will be solid, Cougars insist
Provo • Having lost all-conference safety Andrew Rich and dependable cornerbacks Brian Logan and Brandon Bradley to graduation, BYU's secondary figures to be the defense's weak link this fall.
Just don't let fullback-turned-safety Mike Hague hear you say that.
"I am going to say absolutely not," said Hague, who is battling the secondary's only returning starter, senior Travis Uale, to be the starter at free safety. "We feel extremely confident with the people we have in that room, and I think from a players' standpoint, we believe in each other. So to say that we have a hole in the defense, in the secondary, I think that would be taking a blow at ourselves. I don't really want to do that."
Uale said this secondary has the potential to be better than last year's, although replacing Rich's playmaking ability and team-leading 110 tackles will be difficult.
Coach Bronco Mendenhall said he likes what he has seen in spring camp so far, especially the depth that Hague and others provide.
"It was the first time we have had a chance to really see [Hague] finish a few plays," Mendenhall said after Friday's scrimmage. "He has been playing in that spot, and even though we have been doing live work, he hasn't had that many plays make it to him. So that was a real plus to see him tackle. And I was impressed."
Sophomore Jray Galea'i appears to be Rich's replacement at Kat (strong) safety right now, but sophomore Daniel Sorensen is making big strides, after having played linebacker before his mission. Mendenhall recently referred to the 6-foot-2, 200-pound Sorensen as the "heir apparent right now" to Rich and had even more praise for Colton, Calif., product on Friday.
"He was such a good player before he left," Mendenhall said. "We knew he would play, and play a lot somewhere. So he is playing the Kat safety for us, and he is also playing nickel. He's smart, he's fast, he's tough and he's a good tackler. ... Jray Galea'i and [Sorensen] have a nice battle going. But when you put them both out there at the same time, with [Sorensen] at nickel, that's a nice combination."
Junior Carter Mees got a little time at safety last year before suffering a season-ending knee injury, and could also be in the mix. Ryan Comer, a walk-on from Snow College, will also push for some playing time.
Another junior college transfer, DeQuan Everett, who redshirted last year, has the size at 6-3, 200 to play safety but has mostly worked with the cornerbacks this spring.
Senior Corby Eason is the probable starter this fall at boundary corner, but had offseason shoulder surgery and is skipping spring camp. Snow College transfer Preston Hadley is getting the most reps with the ones in Eason's absence, and Mendenhall has said Hadley will see significant playing time somewhere on the field.
At field corner, junior Robbie Buckner has impressed, despite playing with a soft cast on his broken right hand.
Redshirt freshman Jordan Johnson has also had a great camp, according to teammates.
Cougars' remaining spring schedule
Thursday • 4 p.m. practice, location TBA
Saturday • Blue-White game, noon, LaVell Edwards Stadium (open to the public)