The depth chart for the Saturday game against San Diego State University was released today, and while many of the starters won’t shock anyone, several other decisions are a little more intriguing, and I’ll outline the most compelling position groups below.
WR: While it probably comes as no surprise that Kasen Williams is listed as a starter, if you’re unfamiliar with the other two starters, Kendyl Taylor and Jaydon Mickens, it is probably because they are true freshmen. I’m excited to see what these two players can do, especially Mickens, who was a consensus 4 star recruit coming out of Dorsey High School in LA. Look for him to perform well as a slot receiver. In both cases, it is exciting to think of what these can achieve over the course of their careers considering they are starting as freshmen in Week 1.
Offensive Line: While the middle of the line is reinforced with returning starters in LG Colin Tanigawa, Center Drew Schaefer, and RG Erik Kohler, the edge will be protected by two first time starters RT Ben Riva and LT Micah Hatchie. This doesn’t come as a shock, considering both players performed well in camp, but having your quarterback protected by two first time starters is certainly a situation worth monitoring.
Cornerback: Obviously Senior Desmond Trufant, a defensive captain, is holding down his starting spot. What is less obvious is the inclusion of Tre Watson, a Junior transfer from Central, as a starter over Greg Ducre. The two battled hard throughout camp, and I believe it is a good sign that there is so much competition at every position this year. There will be no complacency on this defense, and Watson knows he will have to perform each and every week with Ducre waiting in the wings.
This seems to be a position on the depth chart that has been created specifically for 5 Star super recruit Shaq Thompson. Not that nickelback isn’t a position used by pretty much every team in football, but rather that most teams do not include the position on the depth chart, choosing instead to list their nickelback as a backup corner or safety. The role Thompson will play will be as a sort of safety/linebacker hybrid, coming in as the fifth defensive back in passing situations, but also playing close to the line of scrimmage to help defend the run. All in all, Shaq is too good to keep off the field, and I expect him to make a lot of plays no matter where he’s listed.