BYU football: Top 10 position battles entering fall camp

Published: Monday, July 29 2013 5:25 p.m. MDT

PROVO — Position battles routinely make headlines at college football fall camps around the country. At BYU, there are at least 10 such battles making headlines heading into the Cougars' fall practice sessions, which begin this Saturday.

The good news for the team is that the starting quarterback position was decided last spring. Taysom Hill has the reigns and looks to be a signal-caller BYU fans can completely get behind given his tremendous upside and intriguing skill set.

Most skill positions on offense also appear to be set entering fall camp, led by the return of last year’s leading receiver, Cody Hoffman. Running back is well-stocked with returning starters Jamaal Williams and Michael Alisa. Kaneakua Friel returns as the starter at tight end.

Most of the question marks on offense are along the offensive front, which struggled mightily last season.

On defense, outside linebacker and safety look as strong as ever, but questions remain along the defensive front and at one cornerback position.

Other storylines are sure to crop up as the practice sessions wear on, but until further notice here are the top 10 position battles entering fall practices.

Email: bgurney@desnews.com Twitter: @BrandonCGurney

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Rexburg, ID

While it is important to fill all the positions with the best personnel, the O-line, defensive NT and place kicker are the most critical spots in my humble opinion.

The O-line really needs to be solid and gel quickly. Some Miscues and missed assignments of the O-line cost BYU at least two games last year. The kicking games cost BYU at least one game.

Defensive NT was stellar last year, hopefully someone steps up to fill Fuga's big shoes. The defense won several games last year and Fuga was a major reason why.

Wayne Rout
El Paso, TX

Mac's comment that the best people should play...is a valid concern. Last year was a disaster in large part because we did not play the best quarterback or the 2nd best quarterback. Instead, we played someone who could not throw or anticipate defenses, merely because he was the coach's pet.

West Jordan, UT

Coug fans better hope the coaches can make better depth chart decisions this year, especially at the QB position.

Last year BYU coaches were inept on the offensive side of the ball.

Y Grad / Y Dad
Richland, WA

Wayne Rout
El Paso, TX

I'm not sure that was the angle Mac was driving at, but since this is the best approach you have made at the topic in a long time, I'd like to respond in kind.

I still firmly believe that with the line play we had last year, in most instances, the coaches played the qb that had the best chance of success with limited blocking.

Now making the decision between a mobile qb who now is injured versus a traditional pocket passer, in hindsight some decisions were wrong. But I believe the results of the bowl game told you everything you needed to know: Lark was a gifted quarterback rendered ineffective by inconsistent pass protection. Riley was a workaholic quarterback rendered ineffective by injury. Munns appears to be (and this is hard for me to say about a hometown favorite) a less effective version of Lark.

Or so it seems to me...

Atlanta, GA

This is one of the few season where depth is a critical point.

Some positions (WR, RB, ILB, QB) are stacked with talent and should the starter get injured, I have no hesitations about the backup filling the role. (Say what you want, but Ammon Olsen and even Christian Stewart would upgrade the QB talent from previous years. I've seen them both play and am quite impressed).
Other positions, (Secondary, NT, DE, TE,OLB) have great starting talent, but the depth chart is rather shallow.
I don't know what to make of the O-line. Its been patchwork at best the past 2 years and this year seems to follow that method. I pray Anae will be able to get some stability, especially from some anticipated JUCO talent.
Don't get me started on the kicking game....

@MacNasty has very valid points. I'd prefer Manumaleuna at DE opposite Kaufusi with Peck as a backup, however, NT is too inexperienced. Hopefully we can get Marques Johnson some playing time in at NT. He's the best shot at a decent backup IMO.

ute alumni
paradise, UT

Nothing mentioned about AJ Moore. I believe he will be in the regular running back rotation.

West Point , UT

The development and speed at which the O-line comes together will make or break this season IMHO. Thankfully, the up tempo offense will take some of the pressure off the O-line in terms of blocking reads, but it will add pressure in them as far as conditioning. The Virginia game is 5 weeks away...


Ute Alumni
-I heard they've looked at putting AJ Moore at CB.

ute alumni
paradise, UT

that would be a good move. thanks for the info

let's roll

kicking game, kicking game, kicking game...punting was great last year, placekicking awful (led to two losses). Punter is gone, no upgrade in sight on the placekicker.

Don't be surprised to see the the offense on the field a lot on 4th down. With no confidence in your punter or placekicker, the best option may look like going for it on 4th down.

That strategy is employed by a number of up-tempo offenses (e.g. Oregon). Not only do you need an effective offense for this strategy, but a great defense as well, because when it doesn't work, you're often defending a short field.

Saint George, UT

I mean really... how hard should it be to find a quality place kicker since our recruiting area is the entire country? Sometimes going for it on 4th down isn't an option... like with time expiring and 2 points down. Let's hope some really great kicker out there realizes how welcome he'd be at BYU. This year, let's hope the offense is good enough to avoid close games that need a kicker to win them.

Kearns, UT

I'm hoping that Sorenson provides his own upgrade. He has the talent, as he has shown. If he can recover both physically and mentally from his injuries, he could be great.

Idaho Falls, ID

I can't for the life of me figure out why the place kicker position wan't a priority for the coaching staff in recruiting this year.

Who is going to punt? Sorenson?

Riverton Cougar
Riverton, UT

"Who is going to punt? Sorenson?"

Actually, Taysom Hill could punt. That could also give defenses fits, knowing that the starting QB can also punt the ball.

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