The Longhorn offensive line

Against New Mexico State, the Texas offensive line helped Texas rush for a whopping 359 yards. Fox Sports Texas reporter Kevin Flaherty gives BYU fans an inside look at what BYU's defensive front will face this Saturday.

Left tackle Donald Hawkins

The one responsible for protecting Texas starting quarterback David Ash's blindside is 6-foot-5-inch, 310-pound senior left tackle Donald Hawkins, who has started twelve games for the Longhorns.

"I would think he's a NFL guy, but the question is whether his NFL future is at tackle or guard," said Fox Sports Texas reporter Kevin Flaherty. "The reason I say that is because he's really good at guard. I think the ideal situation at Texas would be for Desmond Harrison to win the left tackle job. If Harrison wins the left tackle job, they can move Donald Hawkins to left guard. Then they could move Trey Hopkins from left guard to center."

Left guard Trey Hopkins

At left guard is the very talented senior Trey Hopkins (6-4, 300 pounds), who is considered the leader on the Longhorn offensive line. Hopkins has 30 career starts at Texas.

"Hopkins is a pretty strong guard and he moves really well too," Flaherty said. "He's a really good left guard but he's a pretty good tackle too. He moves his feet really well and he plays nasty too."

Hopkins is the top player on the Texas offensive line, so Bronson Kaufusi will have his hands full come game time.

"If you were to highlight one specific guy on the offensive line, that would be Trey Hopkins," said Flaherty. "He's a real mobile guy and they like to pull him a lot and he's good at getting his pads on guys in space. He's got a decent amount of strength. I would say [Desmond] Harrison would eventually be that guy, but if you were to ask me right now who would be that guy who is the best on the line, it would be Trey Hopkins. He played right tackle as a true freshman and started three games there, so now he's playing guard as their best offensive lineman. They feel playing center is probably his best position because then you're getting your best five offensive linemen out there."

Center Dominic Espinosa

A key matchup to watch will be BYU's nose guard against center junior Dominic Espinosa (6-4, 305 pounds). The nose guard is the anchor of the Cougar defense, and if BYU could get an edge in that matchup and force Hopkins into a double team, it should help open opportunities for others.

"The weak link on the line is Espinosa, who plays center," said Flaherty. "He's not that strong, so teams have succeeded against Texas there in the past year or two by putting a really big strong nose tackle in front of him and moving him out of the way. I think the thought is if they are able to move Hopkins into that spot, then they won't have that trouble."

Right guard Mason Walters

The most experienced lineman on the Longhorn offensive line is senior right guard Mason Walters (6-6, 320 pounds).

"Walters started every game since he was a redshirt freshman," Flaherty said. "He's the most experienced guy on the line. It's either him or Hopkins. He's a powerhouse. When they want to run the ball, Texas feels very comfortable running behind him because he's got just tremendous power. As a pass blocker he's not as strong, but he's a very good and very experienced player at guard. If you were to also pick a leader on the offensive line, it would be Mason Walters."

Right tackle Josh Cochran

At right tackle is Josh Cochran (6-6, 301 pounds), a junior with 21 games under his belt.

"He started some as a freshman but I can't remember if he started against BYU or not," said Flaherty. "He has some ability and doesn't have as much ability as some of the other guys, but he doesn't hurt you either. He's a decent right tackle and isn't going to hurt you with what he does, but he's also not a dominant force or anything like that."

The X-Factor

One offensive lineman that could see some playing time is 6-foot-8-inch, 310-pound junior Desmond Harrison, who was involved with some recent controversy surrounding BYU. A junior college transfer, he took some online classes from BYU, but BYU didn't recognize those courses. Desmond was eventually cleared to play by the NCAA.

"He was the interesting story behind the whole BYU online class thing that happened where BYU denied his online class," Flaherty said. "That was the deal with him, and I think if he had gotten the whole fall practice experience he would probably be your left tackle right now. They're trying to kind of play him into shape and into his legs and help him get a better grasp of the offense."

Harrison could get some playing time against BYU at left tackle, which would allow the Texas coaches to move Hawkins over to guard so Hopkins can take over for Espinosa at center. This, according to Flaherty, would make the line more formidable.

"They'll rotate him through, so you could see him on short-yardage plays," Flaherty said. "You could see some movement on the line and they'll also do it to give guys breaks as well. When they do bring Harrison in they do a couple of things just to give guys a breather. They'll rotate him through along with another tackle named Kennedy Estelle that they're just kind of getting reps to."

"Our d-line is good and Eathyn [Manumaleuna] is a beast up there man, and he keeps that o-line off of us," said BYU linebacker Austen Jorgensen. "This is a dream game right now."


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