After getting to see players during live action in a game, there have been some changes to the depth chart.
The only new starter on offense is Kaelin Clay taking over the starting slot receiver position from week one starter Delshawn McClellon. I think this signals that the coaches want to get Clay's talent and speed on the field as much as possible after what he did on special teams against Idaho State. McClellon recorded two catches for 12 yards while Clay had two catches for 13 yards, so there really was no difference there. I also think part of Clay's problem during fall camp was his conditioning, which was not good enough to play in a hurry-up offense at altitude due to him arriving late. I am guessing his conditioning is coming along well, and we should start to see more production out of him this season. Clay impressed head coach Kyle Whittingham, who had this to say about him, "It was a combination of when the ball is in hands, he's dangerous and it doesn't matter whether it's by virtue of a kick or reception. He proved to us that he's as good as advertised and very dynamic when he has the football. It will be a combination of what he did on special teams as well as at receiver."
On the offensive line, Marc Pouvave is the new backup to Jeremiah Poutasi at left tackle, replacing Andrew Albers. Pouvave was formerly a co-backup at left guard.
One position that surprised me with the lack of movement was running back. I figured Devontae Booker would at least be listed as a co-starter (if not the outright starter) with Bubba Poole, but Poole remains the sole starter. On Booker, Whittingham said, "He will get more carries. He was very productive. Both him and Bubba [Poole] had over 7.0 yards per carry, but [Booker] really did some nice things. He caught that screen pass and took it 61 yards up the sideline and made some nice runs, so he definitely will be more of a factor this week."
The defensive tackle positions saw some movement after the poor performance against Idaho State. At tackle, Sese Ianu is now listed as co-starter with week one starter Viliseni Fauonuku. Clint Shepard is now the sole starter at nose tackle with Lowell Lotulelei as his backup, and Stevie Tu'ikolovatu as the third string nose tackle. About the issues with run defense, Whittingham said, "It wasn't really guys in the wrong roles, it was guys not in the right gaps. It was more assignments rather than personnel. It was being in the wrong position and so forth. It was missed assignments and not cancelling gaps that needed to canceled. It's not a really difficult fix. We just have to make sure we're getting in the right gap and we'll work this week to make sure that happens. It's not like we're getting manhandled, that's the point, it was more assignment errors." It sounds like they were not unhappy with the personnel; it was just coachable mistakes that the personnel made, which explains the few changes along the defensive line. Hopefully, these mistakes can be easily fixed headed into next week.
Another position of struggle, cornerback, saw movement as well. In his press conference, Whittingham said about Dominique Hatfield, "He's primarily a corner and playing receiver as a secondary position." Hatfield is listed as a co-starter with Davion Orphey at one outside cornerback position (Mo Talley is now off the two deep). Justin Thomas is now the sole starter at the nickel back position rather than a co-starter with Wykie Freeman (who is now the backup). Freshman (and former running back) Tavaris Williams is now listed as the backup to Eric Rowe at cornerback. I think these are good moves since the two best corners in my mind against Idaho State were Rowe and Hatfield. Orphey and Freeman both looked lost out there much of the game, so minimizing their roles until they prove they can perform better should help the secondary improve.
As expected, Clay has locked down the starting spot at both punt and kick returner with his two touchdown performance last week. For kick returns, Charles Henderson and Poole have replaced Booker and Troy McCormick respectively on the depth chart, meaning Clay will be joined by Henderson for kick returns.