Manaia Brown is DT Story to Watch for this Fall

When the Cougars play Colorado State and New Mexico this year, one of the stories to watch for is how sophomore defensive tackle <B>Manaia Brown</b> will play against four offensive linemen on the CSU and UNM teams who earned 1st team pre-season recognition.

Cougar DE Brady Poppinga made the 1st team defense and rightly so. Let me go on record and say that Poppinga, Brown, Aaron Francisco and Jernaro Gilford will make the post-season All-MWC team. That means BYU could have 4 of the 11 defenders on the All-Conference team, but you never know – given how they relegated Francisco to Honorable Mention last year with 99 tackles last year. Francisco was named by Cougar coaches as BYU's Defensive MVP.

Both New Mexico and CSU have two offensive linemen each on the All-Conference team,

The five offensive linemen who were selected will have the chance to show just how good they are when they come up against BOTH Poppinga and Brown.

The following are marked men:


OL Claude Terrell – JR, New Mexico

OL Jason Lenzmeier - SR, New Mexico

OL Mark Dreyer - SR, Colorado State

OL Erik Pears - JR, Colorado State

OL Jesse Underbakke - SR, Air Force

The word from BYU offensive linemen is that Brown is virtually unstoppable one-on-one. Staff Editor Ben Cahoon, who is presently doubling as an All-Pro wide receiver in the Canadian Football League, recently spoke with a college football coach who said, "Manaia Brown is the best D-lineman BYU has ever had." In fact, the same coach said Manaia is the best college D-lineman he's seen in over 20 years. According to the coach, "He won't last until his senior year. He's too good." ( He already has a combination of NFL type leg strength and quickness that is critical for any good defensive lineman.

If you are the opposing coach drawing X's and O's on the board, it sort of messes things up if the interior of your OL is being destroyed on many plays. A lot of plays don't work if the interior of the line is breached. If double teaming doesn't work, you may have to triple team, and that takes one other blocker or running back out of the offense.

Plus, the quarterback and the running backs will start looking around to see where Brown and Poppinga both are lined up – and that breaks their focus and creates more mental mistakes. It is essential to CSU and UNM to control Brown in the middle, or the chalkboard is going to be busy at halftime. Most importantly, Brown doesn't have to make tackles to influence the game, just disrupt the flow and game calling.

If these all conference OL cannot block him either, that will also make for interesting halftime conversations in opponent locker rooms.

Brown, with excellent back-up support from Ifo Pili, Daniel Marquardt and Justin Carlson-Maddux, will free up the linebackers and defensive ends even more. Poppinga doesn't need any help to cut loose and if more blockers are focused on stopping the force in the middle, it opens things up further for Poppinga, Bill Wright, CJ Ah You, Bret Denny and friends on the outside. This is assuming Shaun Nua redshirts, otherwise he will be another major factor to contend with at DE.

If the voters are right and if the five offensive linemen above are the best in the MWC, they will probably do "better" against Brown than other OL in the league.

But that begs the question: Can you picture Air Force trying to run their option if Brown gobbles up the dive man and no longer needs to respect the dive as a first option? Then, the BYU defense can spread out to tag quarterback Chance Harridge before he can get outside. It all starts in the middle of the field – and it may also end there.

Maybe we should chip in and buy the other coaches a few boxes of chalk for half-time use. They may need to get creative when they face Manaia Brown, Brady Poppinga and friends.

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