BYU Football: Depth chart is out for opener, but is Bronco keeping it real?
Provo • Well, BYU finally released its projected depth chart for Friday's 2014 season opener at UConn, and pretty much everybody is just as confused, if not more so, than they were the last three weeks of preseason training camp.
So the summer of mystery, suspense and intrigue brought about by rumors of player suspensions, players announcing their own suspensions and self-reported improper benefits violations to the NCAA continues in Provo.
And judging by the way coach Bronco Mendenhall cryptically described the two-deep when it was released to the public on Monday morning just four days prior to kickoff, the truth probably won't come until the time many Utahns are leaving the office on Friday.
Even the players are a bit confused, it appears. Several in question have routinely declined interview requests since the day camp opened, including a couple who are listed as starters at cornerback, seniors Jordan Johnson and Robertson Daniel.
"Again, I would be leery of the two-deep and [I would] say, 'man, Monday's depth chart, the 25th [of August], I am not promising that is going to be Friday night's depth chart," Mendenhall said.
In other words, Monday's projections might not be worth the paper they are printed on.
But they are telling nevertheless, and do provide some clues.
Asked if everybody listed on the depth chart is dressing for Friday's game, Mendenhall said: "I believe so, yeah. â¦ But as of today, that's the depth chart. We will see how it ends up by the time we play."
The three players who have acknowledged their opening-game suspensions or had teammates do it for them running back Jamaal Williams, receiver Devon Blackmon and nose tackle Marques Johnson are nowhere to be found on the depth chart. No surprise there.
However, Daniel is listed as the starter at boundary corner, and Johnson the first-teamer at field corner, although neither senior has practiced with the first team during practices or scrimmages viewed by the media. Running back Adam Hine said Monday that Daniel is on the scout team this week.
So there's that.
"They are good players, and they are really experienced players," Mendenhall said, when asked about the sudden promotions of Daniel and Johnson. "Again, anything that happens internally in the program, I don't always share, as you know. So that's the way I plan to keep it."
So will both players start on Friday?
"I would love them both to be able to start," Mendenhall said, not helping much.
Other than the inclusion of Daniel and Johnson, the depth chart contains few surprises.
Hine will replace Williams as the primary ball-carrier, while newly minted captain Paul Lasike and sophomore Algernon Brown are still vying to be the starting fullback.
Mitch Mathews and UTEP transfer Jordan Leslie are the starting receivers, as expected, and senior Devin Mahina the starter at tight end. Junior Terenn Houk is the starting slot receiver, meaning Stanford transfer Keanu Nelson will probably see more time on the outside.
Mendenhall confirmed that the 10 offensive linemen listed on the two-deep will make the trip to East Hartford, but hopes that number is trimmed to eight once a few of the "or" designations are removed. The position on the OL where there is not an "or" designation is at left tackle, where freshman returned missionary Ului Lapuaho will start. At left guard, it is Kyle Johnson or Ed Fusi. At right guard, it is Brayden Kearsley or Tuni Kanuch. At right tackle, it is De'Ondre Wesley or Brock Stringham.
At center, it is freshman Tejan Koroma or junior Terrance Alletto, although Mendenhall hinted Monday that Koroma "probably" will be the starter.
"From whenever I approved that [two-deep], which, I don't remember when I approved it, there's a very good [chance] it could have changed already," Mendenhall said. "So it might change again tomorrow or the next day. We've got two more practices."
Perhaps the biggest surprise on defense is that sophomore Dallin Leavitt won the KAT safety battle, after coaches said most of camp that backup Kai Nacua, another sophomore, was the frontrunner.
Join the club.
BYU at UConn
P Friday, 5 p.m. MDT
TV • ESPN