Solidification comes next week

The BYU offensive line is still a work in progress according to Coach Weber. With just eight days until the season opener against Washington State, the offensive line has yet to establish a starting five. That will come next week.

The offensive line is arguably the most important and vital group to take the field. Without a successful offensive line, quarterbacks run for their lives and running backs run nowhere. So what is the current state of affairs with BYU's offensive line?

"At this point the thing that we've solidified is that we have a lot of depth," said Blair Tushaus. "We have 10 or so guys who have the potential to start this year in a game. Have we solidified the top five guys? Maybe in a couple of spots. We're still working on getting the best five guys out there and ready for Washington State."

BYU has a number of linemen that have been waiting in the wings on the scout team for a few years now. The only two positions that have been solidified are the left and right tackle positions.

"As you guys know, there's the guard spots and the center spots," Tushaus said. "In practice you see guys switch around like Brock [Stringham] and Famika [Anae] playing both right and left guard. I think the only two guys that have stayed at their spots are Ryker [Mathews] at left tackle and Braden [Brown] at right tackle. Those guys are great athletes and they look good in those spots."

So it appears that Coach Weber is allowing Anae, Stringham, Braden Hansen, Solomone Kafu, Ryan Freeman and Manaaki Vaitai to continue battling it out. A starting five is about fielding the best five linemen. However, finding the best five has been a real challenge.

"Well, it's a work in progress," Coach Weber said. "We'll have to start five, but not only five will play. They're all developing and there is talent there, but we have a long ways to go to develop mentally, all of them really. But we will establish a starting five before the game."

The fact that the interior of the offensive line hasn't been established could be taken in two ways. First, either no one has risen up and separated himself from the rest, or, two, that there is so much talent that it's hard for anyone to separate themselves. Coach Weber and Tushaus ensure it's the latter.

"The center spot isn't really a position that's worried about," Tushaus said. "We have a lot of depth there with guys that can play the spot. You've got me, Houston Reynolds and even Ryan Freeman that can play the center position. The guard spots are loaded with Famika, Solo, Brock and Ryan and Manaaki, to name a few. We have so much talent and depth there that it's been really hard to sort."

"My guess is we'll have six or seven that will rotate through in this game," Coach Weber said.

The reason for that is simple.

"I think what has happened is guys have earned the right to play," said Coach Weber. "Then there are a couple of positions where they are close. If they deserve the right to play and if they are close, then they'll play."

Having six, seven or eight players come in at any time during the game will ensure the offensive line stays fresh and healthy.

"As long as we have five guys going hard every play, it isn't going to matter who the guys are," Tushaus. "We all know the plays, we're all in the same meetings and we've all been playing together now for a while now. Whoever are the five guys to go out there first, like I said, nothing needs to be worried about because we have the talent and depth to have five guys go all out."

"Well, it's a good problem to have," said Coach Weber. "Like I said, we have a lot of guy that are close to where we feel comfortable playing those guys that have earned the right to play."

But what about chemistry? Isn't it better to just have five guys that are comfortable playing together?

"Well, we're building chemistry even if we don't have one set of five guys out there," Tushaus said. "It's really not that big of an issue because we're always building chemistry no matter who is out there."

"Chemistry isn't going to be an issue," said Coach Weber. "They get so many reps together and we have guys that have rotated in and out having so many reps that it's not an issue. It's just not a problem. We have around seven or eight guys that could go and rotate in and help us win football games."

There does seem to be a bit of wisdom on Coach Weber's part in not telling his players who will be the starting five. It keeps players hungry and competitive.

So when should they know who will have a chance to play in the opener?

"I would say next week," Coach Weber said with a smile. "We should have that all done by next week."

"We have so much talented depth that Coach Weber is allowing a lot of guys the chance to get their chance to play," said Tushaus. "When the time comes Coach Weber will get it all sorted out, but right now we just continue to compete and get better and better every day."

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