BYU’s second scrimmage notebook: Breaking training camp, Miles Davis gives himself a shot, secondary in progress

Cougars get some clarity regarding second team.

Kalani Sitake and the coaching staff have been waiting on it for weeks. They needed to see some consistency, or any separation, out of the second team.

And finally during BYU’s second scrimmage of training camp, they got it.

“We wanted to see our depth chart step up a bit,” passing game coordinator Fesi Sitake said. “Up until this point in camp, there have been a lot of moments where we have been stagnant as a second group. Today I thought they took a huge jump and that second group was the highlight of the day.”

This third week of camp has been all about nailing down the depth chart as preparations begin for the Cougars’ season opener at South Florida on Sept. 3. The travel roster was also in flux ahead of this week’s scrimmage. But after Saturday, the coaching staff said both of those things are mostly settled.

Sitake feels confident enough to break fall camp on Tuesday and start game preparations for the season opener after that.

“We will come back again and do the same [game-like scrimmage] on Tuesday,” Sitake said. “The key for us is just getting our team ready and getting our depth chart formed and sinking the reps into the guys we think are going to be helpful for us going into the game.”

Here are other key notes from moving day in BYU’s camp.

Miles Davis a real threat

At the start of camp, it felt like Miles Davis had an uphill climb to earn the second-string running back duties. He had played in only six games in his college career and rushed for a total of 89 yards.

Not to mention he was playing behind Lopini Katoa and Jackson McChesney — who have a combined 51 games of experience and 1,652 yards rushing.

But slowly Davis has been one of the more consistent performers for BYU in his third season. It came to a head Saturday, where BYU evenly split the second-string running back duties to give each player a look.

“Miles Davis is a guy, just in general, it has been the same thing every day,” assistant coach Fesi Sitake said. “Including today, every rep has been so good for him. He made a couple runs today where he was just hitting the hole with confidence. He is just someone that continues to emerge as more reps come his way.”

Back in June, Davis was listed as a third-string running back with McChesney. Now it looks like he is fighting to be a featured back behind starter Chris Brooks. Not many expected the Las Vegas native to unseat anybody in that room before 2023. Maybe his timeline to contribute has been pushed up.

Secondary makes progress

Assistant coach Ed Lamb gave us a glimpse into the safety competition earlier this week. After Malik Moore, he said Ammon Hannemann will likely be the second starter patrolling the backline.

After the scrimmage, it looks like that is more solidified now. Sitake said Hannemann is the first name that comes to mind as a starter at strong safety.

Now, the bigger question will be about the depth behind Moore and Hannemann.

Ethan Slade, a former walk-on, has surprised people in camp as a potential depth guy. Micah Harper, after moving from cornerback, is also expected to play a bigger role once he is fully healthy.

Younger players like Carter Krupp and Talan Alfrey have gobbled up a larger share of the reps than expected. Lamb said both of those players are still learning the defense though, and both could redshirted this season.

“I think we have seven to eight guys at that position we feel good about,” Sitake said. “More than likely it will be guys battling for the second and third spot that will play [in different] situations for us.”

Secondary remains one of the bigger concerns in terms of proven experience for BYU, outside of Moore.

Moore said he does not have a preference right now of who plays alongside him at safety.

“I think I play well with a lot of people,” Moore said. “There are some who communicate more than others, I will say that. But I can play with Micah Harper and Ammon Hannemann.”

Increased workload for Jaren Hall

Starting quarterback Jaren Hall did not participate in practice on Thursday. Players said it was due to illness.

But Hall returned to practice on Saturday and had a heavier workload in the second scrimmage. He took about 30 to 35 of the first-team reps, according to Kalani Sitake. The team ran a total of 80 plays.

Last week, Hall went live in about 25 plays. Coaches expected Hall to ramp up his workload this week as the focus shifts to USF.

Line work getting there

The offensive and defensive lines are one of the few positions left that BYU does not have a clear two-deep depth chart.

On the defensive line, Tyler Batty and Earl Tuioti-Mariner are the likely starters on the edges. After that, there are number of guys in the mix.

On the offensive line, it has been a question of who will start. Clark Barrington and Blake Freeland are the locked-in starters. Connor Pay will also likely play center.

But freshman Kingsley Suamataia has made a push to play immediately. Where he gets the chance, and who he pushes out, is another question.

Sitake said the lines went live for 80 plays Saturday, and he saw clarity. He did not offer specifics beyond that.

“The competition at the line of scrimmage is always going to be live,” Sitake said. “There are things we need to see. Who is going to be battling for the second spot on D-Line and O-Line? I thought we accomplished that today.”