Kuresa Wins by TKO

When BYU's football team is locked in gridiron combat, few fans are aware that there is a game within a game being played down in the trenches. While the mammoth Cougar linemen do not put up points on the board, they can put up points on each other in a new blocking competition.

When BYU takes on TCU next weekend at LaVell Edwards Stadium, TotalBlueSport.com members will have something more to look for. Cougar offensive tackle Jake Kuresa, a.k.a. BYU's "Minister of Homeland Defense," clued TBS in on a new O-line competition.

"It's not just when you touch somebody and they fall to the ground," said Kuresa. "You have to knock somebody down in order for it to count. You can't cut block someone, or fall on somebody; it's not pancakes because you'll get more pancakes than knockdowns. You have to physically knock somebody down in order for it to count, and it's really fun because it keeps the meetings light, keeps it fun and keeps us awake and paying attention. It also helps keep us intense on the field."

The knockdown competition was developed when the offensive line was looking for and extra incentive to help them stay more focused, be more intense and dominate until the referee blows the whistle.

"It started when we were just trying to be intense and get people on the ground," said Kuresa. "We're always trying to get people on the ground legally, and a couple of the teams we were playing were doing some zone blitzes and the tackle guys were dropping [engaging an interior lineman], so when the tackle was dropping I would look inside and see somebody locked up on him and go and try and pick him off, and so we started talking about knock downs."

That desire to be more intense has evolved into what is now a full-blown knockdown competition among the linemen after Coach Grimes stepped into the picture to keep an accurate score.

"So Coach [Grimes] was asking us, 'Who had the most knockdowns today,' and we were all like, 'Me, me, me, me,' and so for the first time after the [Boston College] game he started asking this. So Coach [Grimes] kept asking us who had the most knockdowns and everyone was like, 'I did, I did.' So then we started watching for it on film to see who had the most knockdowns."

During offensive line team meetings following the Eastern Illinois game, the group watched film intently to evaluate their performances and keep score on who truly had the most knockdowns.

"We were watching for them even if it was during a serious time in a game or during a big play and watching to see a knockdown that the coach didn't see," recounted Kuresa. "We would be like, 'Oh coach, um, did you count that because this is a contest.' So it's become kind of a funny thing, but then on a serious note when the Eastern Illinois game came, we got up by all those points and kind of got lackadaisical, so the first thing that came to my mind was, 'Hey, I'm going to start the knockdown game so are you guys going to pick it up?' So if you go back and watch our game you see guys trying to pick people off and trying to not only get the job done, which is sufficient, but trying to dominate your opponent. I think this is one thing that will help us, so when they walk off the field they'll be looking back at us saying, 'You know, those guys were putting us on the ground and were coming after us every play rather than just now and then.' We don't just want them to not get to the quarterback we want it in the minds of our opponents that they not only didn't get to the quarterback but we dominated them, so this makes it fun and it keeps us focused in doing that with this competition."

Although the game was a competition started among the linemen, one BYU running wanted to play to play with the big boys too.

"Anybody can do it," said Kuresa. "Well, anybody on the offensive line, but there might have been one or two games where I think Fahu [Tahi] made a run at it but mostly it's the offensive line."

During the Boston College game Kuresa said he racked up around 5 or 6 knockdowns, and even though he might not know the exact number of total knockdowns Coach Grimes has tallied up, he is pretty sure he is the leader in the offensive linemen's knockdown competition.

"Who is the leader?" Kuresa asked. "Well I'm going to say it's me! Until someone else proves otherwise, I know who number one is."

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