Scouting Report: Arizona's D-Line

BYU's experienced offensive line will face a talented, senior-laden Wildcat defensive front. Total Blue Sports caught up with most of the starting Cougar offensive linemen and talked to them about who they will face in the trenches, and what challenges lie before them.

The Cougars will have their hands full this weekend at LaVell Edwards Stadium as they face an Arizona defensive line that consists of three seniors and one junior. These players are 6-foot-6-inch, 265-pound DE Louis Holmes; 6-foot-1-inch, 315-pound DT Yaniv Barnett; 6-foot-4-inch, 286-pound DT Lionel Dotson; and 6-foot-3-inch, 262-pound DE Jonathan Turner, the lone junior.

Every Wildcat defensive linemen playing in this Saturday's contest started against the Cougars last year. However, BYU will be missing two starters from last year's offensive lineman squad in Jake Kuresa and Eddie Keele.

Big 6-foot-8-inch, 325-pound tackle David Oswald, who became a starter last year after Keele suffered an early season-ending injury, did not play against Arizona last season. This will be Oswald's first matchup against Holmes.

"This is my first time facing [Arizona], but I played a lot last year so I'm pretty confident," said Oswald. "[Louis Holmes] looks fast and really strong and is an excellent athlete. Dallas [Reynolds] played against him last year and so I asked Dallas about him."

"Louis Holmes is a great athlete," said Reynolds. "He's a big guy at around 6'6" and he has long arms. He's also physical and he likes to play and hit, and so with guys like that you just have to go with your technique and work on what you're going to do to beat guys like that."

"I'm pretty confident that if we stay within our technique we should be fine," said Oswald. "Their defensive line consists of big, strong guys that just like to play straight up with you. They're not going to try and trick us and move around a lot. They're going to try and hold their ground to free up the linebackers and make plays when it comes their way. They're basically going to try and hold the line."

The Wildcat defensive line racked up two sacks against the Cougars last year, both of which were courtesy of Holmes. Reynolds faced Holmes last year, and might face him some more this Saturday, but will primary face Jonathan Turner on the other side.

"Jonathan Turner is the guy I'll be going up against most of the time," said Reynolds. "He's a good player and he's athletic and quick. I'm excited to go up against him to see what he's got, and hopefully I'll come out on top."

Offensive guards Travis Bright and Ray Feinga will be matching up against Arizona's d-tackles, Lionel Dotson and Yaniv Barnett.

"Their d-tackles are pretty explosive," said 6-foot-5-inch, 325-pound Rey Feinga. "They're good rush-stoppers and did well with that our last game. They're pretty versatile at times and can be both finesse and…physical guys. They're more one-on-one match type guys and think they can beat us that way. They're pretty much just straight up type players. I think we'll be ready for them on Saturday and have been preparing since last January. We'll bring our "A" game this Saturday."

The Wildcat d-line philosophy is geared more towards gap containment and controlling the line of scrimmage to keep everything in front of them. This allows the linebackers or a safety to roam and possibly blitz from the outside.

"They're a real gap oriented defensive line," said Dallas Reynolds. "In watching the defensive ends, they stick to their outside gaps and don't want to lose containment. That's what they've been taught and so they're good at doing that. Every defensive line is different in that area, but Arizona is really gap oriented, where they like to stay in their gaps and try to hold you up.

"TCU is also returning some guys that are tough as well. Arizona is a little bigger and a little stronger, whereas TCU's d-ends are a little faster and quicker around the end. That's the difference between [Arizona's players and] guys like [Chase] Ortiz and Tommy Blake from TCU. [TCU is] really quick and fast, whereas I think Arizona is a little more stout and stronger at holding their gaps."

"They don't really do many stunts," said center Sete Aulai. "They don't do much twisting or stunts and things like that. They just like to play the gaps and blitz. It's going to be a really good matchup, especially between [Holmes] and Dallas [Reynolds] or David [Oswald]. I have so much confidence that Dallas or David will be able to take care of him. It's going to be a really good matchup, but [the Wildcats] haven't seen an aggressive o-line like us since last year. We want to live up to our name as being one of the best o-lines in the country, and we're going to show that on Saturday."

BYU assistant coach Lance Reynolds offered up a team that is comparable to Arizona in regards to the defensive line.

"[Arizona is] very similar to Boston College in that they're stout and physical up-front dudes," said Coach Reynolds. "They can split double teams. They can hold the line of scrimmage down. [Their philosophy is mostly] to go man-on-man to hold you up, while changing it up with a zone blitz off the edge. Their base philosophy is to sit down and control the gap or to control a shoulder. You're not going to go in there and knock them out of there. They're very stout and very physical, similar to Boston College, and want to keep everything in front of them."

BYU's experienced linemen know there won't be much of a mystery as to what they will face on game day.

"I would first of all say they're all athletic and they're strong," said Reynolds. "I think they're quick off the ball and explosive. For us, we just have to match that, if not do better, which I think we can do. We faced these guys last year, so what they're going to do isn't going to be a mystery to us. To me, I feel like I know what they're going to do. Of course they're going to get a little better at what they do over the offseason, and so that part might be a mystery. Still, and for the most part, people don't change a whole lot at what they can and can't do, so they'll bring much the same things they brought to the table against us last year."

"I expect it to be very competitive," said Aulai. "I know those guys are good d-linemen, but it's nothing that we can't handle. The guy that I went up against last year, [Yaniv Barnett], I can't wait to go up against him again. He's a great pass-rusher and a good bull-rusher also, but then again, he's not consistent with his pass-rushing. I know I can out-hustle him and I know I can out-work him, and then from there I know I can beat him.

"This year I'm more experienced and I know this offense like the back of my hand. They run a base 4-3 defense, but then they also like to adjust to our offense. They're an aggressive defense and they're from the Pac-10, but that doesn't mean that it's something that we can't handle. When they blitz it's going to be something that I'll see and be able to make the right blocking calls. They like to get into their blitzing schemes and show it early, and for an experienced o-line like us, it will be easy for us to handle."


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