All About the O-Line

It could well be argued that the offensive line is BYU's strongest position group heading into the season. With four returning starters and some promising backup options, offensive line coach Mark Weber has his group poised to lead an offense that has some big question marks in some key areas.

"We're a confident group, that's for sure," said center Terence Brown when asked how good this year's offensive line is. "Most of us have had a lot of time in the program, we played with each other last year, so we're used to playing with each other and we're confident in one another."

Much of the talk this fall has been about coaches breaking in not just one, but two new starting quarterbacks and an offensive backfield that doesn't feature a proven every-down type of runner. Those are concerns that should be eased thanks the strength of the offensive line.

"They're awesome," said BYU running J.J. Di Luigi about the offensive linemen. "With every play we run, we know they're going to complete their assignments and dominate. It's great because a lot of us aren't that experienced, but our offensive line, they're just awesome."

Matt Reynolds

The strength of the Cougar offensive front starts with Matt Reynolds, who is considered by many experts to be a surefire first-round draft pick should he opt to leave for the NFL after this year.

"Athletically, he's a lot like Logan Mankins, who I coached [at Fresno State] and was drafted in the first round," observed Weber. "He certainly has that sort of talent and he's pretty similar to Logan athletically, which is a pretty high compliment since Logan was one of the best guys I've ever coached."

Reynolds will lock down the critical left tackle position, where his experience and talent will serve the Cougars' relatively inexperienced offensive backfield well. When the left-handed Riley Nelson is in at quarterback, he could also possibly see time at right tackle.

Braden Brown

Opposite Reynolds at the right tackle spot will be converted tight end Braden Brown, who has acclimated to his new position with an amazing amount of ease.

"Braden Brown has really put in the work and has adjusted to offensive line about as well as we could have hoped," said Weber. He had to fill in there last year before he was ready, but he did an amazing job considering."

Braden indeed received a baptism by fire by switching over midseason from his tight end position. Not only did he play, but he even started several games.

"This year, it's a lot different for him because he's had a full year," observed Weber. "He's put in the time, he's had a great attitude and he's done very well with what we've asked him to do. He's going to do a real good job for us this year."

Terence Brown

Terence Brown was already a big contributor heading into the fall practice session, as he started at right guard throughout last season. This year, he's taken on the critical center position, which he's been able to handle quite nicely.

"People don't realize how hard it is to snap the football," said Braden Hansen, who played center during a lot of this past spring practice. "Now, Terence is just doing it and I don't think he's had a bad snap all fall. He's just awesome. We love Terence."

Not only does the starting center have to get the ball effectively to the quarterback, but he also has to make the blocking calls at the line along with simply getting to his own blocking assignment.

"It's a lot to do and it's why center is a tougher position as far as having to do so much more than just complete your blocking assignment," explained Weber. "Fortunately Terence has done a great job with it and he's going to do very well for the entire offensive line this year."

Braden Hansen

Hansen will reprise his role from last season, manning the starting left guard position. He'll look to improve upon his play there while filling in at tackle should the need arise.

"Braden Hansen is a very, very good player and he's versatile," admired Weber. "He has the athletic ability to play tackle and we feel very comfortable using him there if any of our starters go down. He's kept improving since he's been in the program and like most of our guys, he's going to have a very good year if he just keeps it up."

Jason Speredon

Six surgeries since he first entered BYU's program has not deterred Speredon, who has kept at it despite numerous setbacks. The remarkable thing is that each of his six surgeries have been done on different body parts.

"Yeah, I've injured pretty much everything you can injure since I've been here it seems," said Speredon with a laugh. "The latest surgery on my shoulder was probably the hardest to get through, but it's been about a full year now since then and I feel great, I really do. Hopefully I can just stay healthy for once."

Speredon is pegged to start at the right guard spot, where he'll likely share at least some playing time with last year's starter Nick Alletto. Both Alletto and Speredon will add some good adjustment options for Weber, as they're both capable of playing the tackle position.

"We have a lot of guys we can mix and match with because we've done well cross-training them," said Weber, who has been coaching offensive lines for the past 20 years at the collegiate level. "Overall, this group has the talent to be the best I've ever coached."

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