Leading the Charge

Three games into the season and on the heels of two consecutive dominating performances against Pac-10 opponents, the Cougar offensive line is starting to hit its stride. How good is this Cougar offensive line, which has allowed zero sacks and has not had a single holding penalty called against it? According to Coach Weber, it just might be the best unit he's ever coached.

Cougar offensive line coach Mark Weber has been around the coaching block. Weber has coached various offensive line units since the early 80s. He's coached some pretty good units at such schools as Fresno State, UCLA and North Carolina.

When Weber came to BYU a year ago he readily acknowledged that the offensive line collectively had the most potential of any offensive line he's ever coached. Now in his second year at BYU, Coach Weber is ready to say that the line is fulfilling its potential.

"I would say that this is the best offensive line I've been fortunate to be around," said Weber. "They are very talented, they understand the scheme, [and] they're great young men who want to play hard and who want to do everything the coaches ask them to do."

"He doesn't even like us as far as I know," quipped offensive tackle Travis Bright in light of Weber's comments. "But seriously, he's told us that and you wonder how much of that is just him being a coach and trying to get the best out of you, but I feel that we're definitely the best line I've been a part of since I've been here. We're meshing well together, but we still have to improve and get better every week."

Even after a 59-0 blowout of a strong UCLA defensive unit, there are things for the offensive line to work on. Coach Weber quickly notes that the line wasn't perfect and there is still a lot of things they can improve on in preparation for Wyoming.

"As good of a job that they did in this last game, there are a lot of things to correct," noted Weber. "That's just not coach-talk. They saw it on the film."

During Tuesday's practice Coach Weber was chewing out his guys at one point to get to the line quicker and to keep up the tempo, indicating that he's certainly not ready to rest on the laurels of two straight dominating performances. Weber wants to get the most out of his offensive line.

"It's something you have to work on to get better every week," said Bright. "We still have a long ways to go and there are things we can do better and things we need to do better. We want to be the best we can, and that only happens when you make improvements every week."

For an offensive line to be effective, the linemen have to work well as a unit. Stellar individual play generally doesn't get it done, as the offensive linemen needs to trust each other and work well together in order to lead to stellar offensive output.

"The number one thing is the trust," said Bright. "We all have played with each other for a long time and we trust each other, knowing that we're going to be there, and we know that the guy next to you is going to work just as hard as you are, and it's just a really close friendship that we have."

Lighter on his Feet

Coach Weber readily notes the improvement Travis Bright has shown in his game. Bright is lighter on his feet and quicker off the snap. Weber credits this to his diligent rehab after his leg injury in the Las Vegas Bowl.

"The wife likes me to be a bit trimmer, so it works out," quipped Bright about his being a bit lighter this year. "But yeah, I'm moving a lot better I feel, and with the injury and that game you think that could have been the last one, so I'm definitely putting more effort into it this year and working harder."

Further Development

This past game against UCLA saw the second-team offensive line take the field and see some great production, including leading the team to a touchdown. For Coach Weber, it was a great opportunity to see what those guys could do.

"That was really neat to see those guys go and execute at a high level," said Weber. "They worked hard and the execution was good. There were a few mistakes and first-game jitters, but they moved the ball, they scored points, they did what we asked them to do and it was really exciting to see."

Bright was also quick to note the success the backups had against UCLA.

"To me that was the highlight of the game," said Bright. "Those guys work so hard every week, probably harder than we do as starters in getting the team ready, and it was so great to see them out there and to see them play well."

Bright's eyes were at times squarely on his backup at left right guard, Jason Speredon. Bright said that Speredon did a great job at completing his assignments. In addition, Bright was also happy with the play of Mark Freeman on the other side playing left guard.

"Mark Freeman is my boy, so it was so great seeing him playing and playing well," said Bright. "Jason Speredon also works so hard and is so diligent in learning his assignments although sometimes he never gets into the game, so for that it was great to see. Jason is going to be a very good player. It was sort of being like a little kid on Christmas to see those guys out there working hard."

Part of becoming a good player has to do with simply getting game experience. Coach Weber and the other coaches on staff noted after the UCLA game that a lot of the Cougar offensive success in the early 80s had to do with the second-team offensive linemen getting good game experience before they were called on to become the starters.

"If you add up a few quarters here and there of game time experience that adds up," said Weber. "If we're able to do that throughout the year, then it will be very beneficial to the overall development of the offensive line."

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