Good Times Ahead

TBS caught up with Jake Kuresa after practice on Monday. The giant lineman had a lot to say about the new offense and how it will affect things in the upcoming season.

With a new offensive scheme comes a different philosophy, different formations and different blocking schemes. All of these aspects will be hashed out considerably this spring practice session as the Cougars prepare for the coming 2005 season, but according to offensive lineman Jake Kuresa, the offense the offensive line in particular are well on their way.

"It's all new and stuff here, but it's really not," said Kuresa of the new offensive scheme. "It's new to us, but it's not new to BYU. This is BYU's offense. The best way to describe it is to look at what Texas Tech did last year, but it's not Texas Tech's offense. It's BYU's offense and the offense that put BYU on the map."

So what is this new offense and what will jump out at fans as being one of the more unique aspects? "For us as an offensive line, the way we split is a lot different," Kuresa explained. "We used to watch Texas Tech play and laugh at them because of how wide their splits were. Then Coach Anae came and explained to us that we'd be doing the same thing we sort of didn't know what to think."

But all changes have a designed purpose and such is the case with the wide splits BYU's offensive line will employ this spring and thereafter. A "split" refers to the gap between two linemen while in their stance prior to the snap of the ball. "The usual split is about 1 foot for offensive linemen," said Kuresa. "What Texas Tech did last year and what we're doing is splitting the guards from the Center by 3 feet and the tackles from the Guards by 5 feet."

So what's the purpose? "It keeps the defense off of their game," said Kuresa, "I mean, they can't play the same way when they go up against that kind of line split. I mean, they can try, but it won't work. They're going to have to adjust to what we do and it will help to keep them a little more honest in what they run against us."

Kuresa provided an example following today's practice session. "With the tackle being spread out so wide it really cuts down the angle of opposing defensive ends," he said. "Our quarterback seems like he's a mile away from us, so he's that far away from the defensive end who is going to try and sack him, so it will really cut down his ability to get to the quarterback because he's going to have a tough time going at us from the outside."

Kuresa also noted that the wide splits will help the running game in opening holes and the like for the Cougar running backs out of the backfield, "It just opens everything up," he said. "Gives the running back more holes and gives him more options. But the biggest thing I think it will do is to keep opposing defenses off balance and mess up whatever they do best against most teams. They're going to have to adjust to us and what we do and that isn't going to be easy with just one week of practice."

Although the splits are radically different, Kuresa notes that the team is taking them on in stride and that they are well ahead of where they have been as an offensive line due to several factors.

First up is the reduced complexity of the blocking schemes. "It's not nearly as complex as what Crowton was having us do," said Kuresa. "Crowton's system was good and all, but I really like what we're doing now. In the past it was just so complex that you'd often outthink yourself. I mean, there was just a hundred different things that we had to do with the hundred different things the defense would throw at us. Now it's not like that and it's nice."

Secondly and maybe more importantly is the presence of returning offensive linemen with experience. Said Kuresa: "It's so important for offensive linemen to know each other and be able to trust each other and play together. Everything has to be done with a group effort and you really have to depend on one another and that is going to be much easier this year."

Kuresa expressed great confidence in his fellow offensive linemen and in particular in the one who will be making the blocking calls at the line of scrimmage. "Lance [Reynolds Jr.] did an awesome job last year playing center for the first time, but he's going to be so much better this year," Kuresa assured. "I have no doubt in whatever Lance calls. I had great confidence in him last year, but now it's like I know exactly what he's thinking. He doesn't have to say as much because we're on the same page in everything and I know that is the same with all of the other guys as well."

The only part to replace along BYU's returning offensive line is at right tackle where they'll have the mammoth task of replacing combine stud Scott Young. "Young was awesome," Kuresa declared. "He'll be hard to replace for sure, but we have a lot of young guys that I feel very comfortable with and that are like Scott Young in many ways. Travis Bright is a stud and he just fits right in. He has the sort of strength and nasty attitude that Scott did, so he'd be a good fit. He's just one of the guys, but I really feel comfortable playing alongside him so far."

Kuresa also noted that the offense is much farther along already than it has been in past years even though they're starting an entirely new system. "It was just the first day out there, but we're already making it work," said Kuresa. "We're usually lost at this time of the year. We're going to get a ton better and we still have a ton of stuff to work on, but we're already very comfortable with what we're doing and we're making it happen."

Kuresa is indeed chomping at the bit to get BYU back to where its tradition mandates and knows that it's up to him and his fellow offensive linemen to lead the charge. Said Kuresa: "We have to lead the way and set the attitude. That is what Coach Grimes is always telling us and we're doing that. The attitude is just great with everyone and I know that we're going to get it done this year. There is no doubt in my mind about that."

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