Looking for offensive line solidarity

With all the injuries that have occurred across the offensive line, it's almost impossible to figure out who will be starting and where. One thing is certain, and that is the offensive line will have more quality talent and more depth than has been seen at BYU for some time.

Although there have been injuries pushing younger players into playing roles this spring, senior offensive lineman Braden Hansen isn't worried.

"You know, I feel like our o-line group is solid," Hansen said. "I think going into fall camp will be different than going into spring because we'll have everybody back."

Even BYU offensive coordinator Brandon Doman isn't worried.

"Oh, heaven's no," he said. "I need these guys to be good by the end of August, not by the beginning of April."

Well, that makes sense. And come fall camp, those that have been limited in spring camp will be able to fully participate, but this time it will be a camp that includes full-padded scrimmages.

"We'll have Braden Brown returning, Houston [Reynolds] returning, me returning and Ryker [Mathews]," said Hansen. "There will be more guys that have solidified themselves as a starter. That doesn't mean they will start, but we have guys that have proven themselves as starters.

"You know, going into fall camp we'll have a bunch of guys coming back that Coach Weber already knows what they can do. When you have that and then you add the guys that have been evaluated over spring camp, you have a pretty good situation to build a solid offensive line around."

It's reasonable to think that Hansen, who has been playing primarily left guard in spring camp, will continue playing that position in the fall but also be the backup left tackle since he's also received spring camp reps at that position.

"I think in fall camp I'll be doing both, but mainly left guard," Hansen said. "I think Ryker will be playing mainly left tackle, but I think Coach Weber likes people to work a couple different positions in case of an injury. I think I'll be playing mainly left guard, but then a couple other positions to make sure I know what's going on."

Blair Tushaus has been the primary center during spring camp, and he feels he'll have the advantage come fall, even though Houston Reynolds has received reps at that position over spring camp. Last season, Reynolds played left guard, a position now taken by Hansen. Reynolds could compete for a starting center spot or play right guard, while being the backup to Hansen at left guard.

However, he'll have to compete against Manaaki Vaitai, who has primarily been practicing at the guard position throughout spring camp, and Brock Stringham, who was playing right guard prior to a foot injury.

"Then you add Manaaki, Brock and Solomone [Kafu] and Michael Yeck, that will have an opportunity to work themselves into a possible spot," said Hansen. "They could also work themselves into a possible fifth or sixth or seventh guy to possibly play."

Yeck has been receiving reps at right tackle throughout spring camp, but once senior Braden Brown returns to the field, it will be at right tackle. Yeck could then be the backup to Brown going into fall camp.

"Yeah, it will be good to get ‘Brownie' back," said Hansen. "He'll bring more game experience to our offensive line at right tackle. He's proved himself at the right tackle spot, and come fall camp he'll be back."

Coach Doman had mentioned that he believes there could be eight offensive linemen with potential starting ability. That's something Hansen feels BYU hasn't had in some time.

"It's kind of exciting because ever since I've been at BYU we've always had six or seven guys, which is totally different than what we'll have this year," said Hansen. "It's going to be good to have that kind of depth this year. Not only are we cross-training at different positions, but we've also got guys making the case during spring camp that they are capable of playing as well. It's a good problem to have."


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