Cougar O Drives Ds Crazy

It is a cat and mouse game, a kind of psychological tag team of "now you see me, now you don't." Every time BYU quarterback John Beck and his offensive lineman take the field, they toy with opposing defensive fronts. The Cougar O-line allows defenders to catch a glimmer of hope before Beck cruelly reminds them that hope is not an option when facing BYU's offense.

Many factors figure into the overall success of an offense with some outweighing others in terms of importance. John Beck is the first to admit that the play of BYU's offensive line accounts for a big part of his success.

"It's a combination of what John does and what I do to frustrate a defensive line," said big offensive tackle Jake Kuresa about what is behind the Cougars' offensive proficiency. "For instance, when I'm playing tackle I have the same guy the whole entire game, and it's a mind game. If he doesn't think he has a chance to beat you then he's never going to. There are also plays where I know John is going to rip out the ball fast; when I know that, I'll take a chance and try and pop the D-linemen, and if I do miss to where a linemen might get close enough, it doesn't matter because John has already gotten rid of the ball."

"Part of the quarterback's job, obviously, is you don't want to hang onto the football," said Beck. "So with this scheme that we have where the tackles are wide, it creates a longer distance for the defensive ends to travel just to get to me. If I'm getting the ball and delivering it quickly, that totally eliminates any chance they have of making a play. If defensive linemen think, ‘Oh, I can just rush him,' then it's my job to step up. If the quarterback does his job and the tackle does his job, then in this offense, it should almost be like the defense is playing without ends. If I'm getting rid of the ball on time, like I should be, the defensive ends are going to have a hard time getting to me."

Outside linebacker Bryan Kehl knows all too well how disheartening it can be to do everything he can to get to Beck, only to come up short. He spen fall camp doing just that.

"Over the year I would say I'm probably the king of being close," said Kehl. "It is very frustrating. I've been inches away so many times. It's so demoralizing to a defense. It really does make you mad. That's one thing our offense is really, really good at. They get the ball off quickly, which doesn't give the defense a chance to make a play."

"That would be frustrating for me," chuckled sophomore offensive lineman Dallas Reynolds. "You get in there and get all hyped up thinking you're going to get something good to find out the ball is gone and John is just standing there. It breaks them down, and it only gets worse as the game goes on."

Few have had the chance to get close to quarterback John Beck, but when they do the ball is usually downfield, which then leads to more frustration for defenders.

"When John is sitting in the pocket and if they don't get to him, he'll find that offensive guy downfield, and that's what they've been doing this year," Kehl said. "They've been rolling on defenses whether it's a quick pass to the receivers, or a pass that takes a bit longer to develop. Either way it's frustrating because as a defensive lineman you're going to rush hard wondering what's the use. It's hard to beat a tackle in the game to begin with, but when you do, you would like to get some green for it. There are times when you beat your guy but the ball is gone anyways, and nobody even knows you beat your guy, so it's kind of frustrating. To get sacks on this offense is very tough."

Kuresa watches the frustration build in opposing defender during games when he and his O-line teammates are in synch with Beck.

"We can play that game and it really frustrates a defensive lineman to where he might think, ‘Man, I'm playing my hardest, but I can't even get to the quarterback even if I get through,'" said Kuresa. "That's how we frustrate linemen. Even on twists or stunts if they get through, the ball is gone. If they blitz, the ball is gone. Even if John is going to hold onto the ball longer, we're already so into his head that he's already beat because he's thinking there is no way he will beat me. We've already broken this guy down because not only is he wondering how to beat me, but even if he does, the ball won't be there anyways. That just helps give John even more time than he needs because [the defender is] already defeated. It makes my job easier on top of that. So it's a mind game—that's how we feed of off each other a lot."

If the spacing of BYU's offensive line did not already create a feeling of futility in opponents, creative play calling by Cougar coaches is sure to get the job done.

"Some of the plays with how we are set up as an offensive line can really frustrate defensive linemen," said Reynolds. "We can be real physical and get up on [the defensive line] really quick, and I think that changes it up a lot, and they don't see things coming. On top of that, when John gets the ball off really quick and they don't have a whole lot of time, it's kind of like a run play, and they don't know what's going on, and you can tell they get really frustrated on that kind of stuff as well."

The chemistry between O-linemen and quarterback is an important aspect for frustrating defenders. With over 40 games under his belt, Kuresa knows that Beck trusts him to go all out to protect his quarterback.

"The more an offensive lineman plays, the greater the comfort level between the offensive linemen and the quarterback is," said Kuresa. "It is the same with Dallas, Sete [Aulai], Travis [Bright] and anyone who plays in front of the quarterback. The longer that person plays, the more he proves himself and gains the trust of his quarterback. I think the level of confidence that John has in us shows during the game. It's just different when you look out there and see a close friend of yours and someone who wants the best for you. I think the same thing goes for Dallas, Sete, and Travis too.

However, the confidence must flow both ways. Not only must a quarterback trust his offensive linemen to get the job done, the O-line must also be confident that their QB will do everything he can to make a play. Beck has put forth more than enough effort to earn that confidence from his offensive line.

"People may think that our offense is good at doing this and that and this, but a lot of that can be credited to the comfort level that's exchanged between our quarterback and our offensive line," Kuresa said. "We're confident that if we do our job, he's going to make a play. It's a very frustrating thing to block somebody to the best of your ability and the result is a bad throw or a dropped pass. People already know about how John is comfortable playing behind us as an offensive line, but what people don't know is how comfortable we are blocking for him and having him back there behind us.

"When John is back there doing his thing, it goes back and forth. It's a mental give and take, and I love blocking for him because I know he's going to make the best decision. I know he's been in there watching film. I've seen him put in the time in the weight room, and I know how he is as a person. I know he's going to do all that he can to win, and that goes a long way in wanting to block for someone like that.

"It makes you want to block for someone who is going to make the best decisions to win football games when I'm putting my body on the line, working hard in the weight room, watching film and doing my best to improve on my game to win. When you're confident in your quarterback, it gets the most out of an offensive line and good things are going to happen. When you're working your hardest for nothing, that's when you won't play to the best of your ability. It's kind of the opposite of what a defensive lineman goes through when he knows he is working his butt off for nothing."

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