This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
You know that depth chart that BYU published on Monday, the one that says the offensive line starters will be Andrew Eide at left tackle, Keyan Norman at left guard, Tejan Koroma at center, Parker Dawe at right guard and Ului Lapuaho at right tackle?
Well, believe it.
"It is honest," BYU offensive line coach Mike Empey said Wednesday, when asked if it was solid or fluid.
"Well, if I was making up a depth chart, and not being honest about it in order to have some competitive advantage, then I wouldn't tell you the truth right now, right? So, believe it."
Empey said 12 offensive linemen will travel to Phoenix for the opener the 11 guys on the depth chart (three are listed at right tackle: Lapuaho, followed by Austin Hoyt "or" Thomas Shoaf, a freshman) and freshman returned missionary Chandon Herring, a 2014 signee who has returned from a church mission. Herring will probably redshirt this year, Empey said, but is making the trip because he is from nearby Gilbert, Ariz., and will get the chance to see friends and family at the game.
"Generally speaking, we will always travel 11 or 12," Empey said. " If I have somebody injured, I could travel 10. But we will probably stay at 10 or 11 guys we take on the road each time. I would like to have 10 or 11 guys who are always ready if we need them, even if they are not starting."
The two-deep raised a few eyebrows for several reasons.
One, junior Tuni Kanuch was listed behind Dawe at right guard. Kanuch played in every game but UCLA last year, and started in seven. He was believed to be the mainstay, especially because seniors Kyle Johnson and Brad Wilcox haven't been practicing.
"Tuni is a strong player; he is doing a good job," Empey explained. "He may not be among the first five who runs out on the field, unless something happens tomorrow. After tomorrow he may be, but even if he is not among the first five to run out on the field, he is going to play. You are going to see him a lot. And he is in a little bit of a rotation.
Tuni got a little bit behind. He had a death in his family [his grandmother], and he missed about a week, and it was just tough for him to keep up. We are going so hard during camp. That is probably the biggest distinction for him. He lost a little bit of prep time.
He is good enough that he could be in the first five. We could play him, and I am confident he could do a good job."
Perhaps the second biggest surprise was that both SUU transfers, senior Eide and junior Norman, are already in the starting five. Coaches and teammates raved about Eide in camp, so his promotion isn't surprising. But Norman, a Lone Peak product who graduated early from SUU with two years of eligibility remaining, claiming the starting spot at left guard wasn't foreseen by many.
"I want to have two deep [available]," Empey said. "I don't want to have just five. No one is going to go through a game with just five guys. And I have a starting point with those five. I am comfortable with those five. I feel like right now they have distinguished themselves.
That is my best unit to start off with. I have some talented guys who are not in that first five guys, that I feel I can rotate in and talk to people and make corrections as the game is going on.
We are not a very experienced five. Keyan has started some games at Southern Utah, and Andrew has started some games at Southern Utah. Tejan has started some games. Parker has started a couple of games, but not a ton.
Tuni has started a couple of games, but not a ton, and then Lui has started some games, but nobody has really been a guy who has locked down a position for a couple of years, where you just hang your hat on him and say, 'this guy, I don't have to worry about him,' and just work on everybody else. We are still developing a lot of guys, and they are still developing in our system.
The system is not brand new to them, because we had it in spring and we've gone through fall camp. They are not all veterans, and I wish that some of the challenges we have this year, maybe we won't have next year because we should have guys that are returning with a little bit more experience next year, but … I am not surprised."
"I feel like I knew all along who our top 10, 11, 12 guys were going to be. I just wanted them to have a chance to differentiate themselves. The guys who are in the starting lineup right now should feel like they have earned it, and they had to battle to have it. It should mean something to them, and i hope they will fight to keep it."
Empey played for BYU in 1987, then from 1991-93. He was the offensive tackles and tight ends coach at BYU from 2001-2004 under Gary Crowton. In 1999, he was the head coach at Snow College. He has also worked at UNLV (1997-98) and for American Fork High as its offensive coordinator from 2012-14.
"I am excited [to be back]," he said. "It is fun to be here. And I love the guys I coach with. I am grateful to coach Sitake and coach Detmer, that I can be here with them. They gave me this opportunity, and I am just excited for all of that, and the kids that I work with are great. I love them. It is rewarding to work with good people and to feel like every day you are working with good kids.
It is my job to keep them tough and keep them prepared and work with them on that type of stuff. I am excited that we finally get to get into a game routine and put all that hard work and foundation of what we are trying to build here. I am glad that we get to take it on the field now and see what we are, see what we need to improve and see what our challenges are going to be from week to week. That part of the grind is what excites me the most."