Past and Future Look at BYU's Offensive Line

<b>JAKE KURESA</b>

How does the Cougars' 2003 offensive line stack up against its predecessors over the past 10 years? A summary review of sacks surrendered and yards per carry is revealing – even if it doesn't tell the whole story.

2003 - 35, 2.96
2002 - 32, 3.46
2001 - 24, 5.60
2000 - 36, 2.99
1999 - 37, 2.97
1998 - 47, 3.48
1997 - 38, 3.06
1996 - 34, 4.38
1995 - 35, 2.79
1994 - 38, 3.61

Overall, the 2003 offensive line stats are middle of the road, or on par with the 2000 stats. The 2001 stats, meanwhile, were by far the best over this 10-year period.

The thing about the 2003 offensive line is they were rarely beaten physically. The problems were almost always mental and mostly from blitzes. BYU true freshman Ofa Mohetau had big problems in pass blocking and was source of most of the problems. However, he was also the Cougars' best run blocker. Mohetau definitely improved his pass blocking the last two games of the year and he should be much improved this fall.

Interestingly, redshirt freshman Jake Kuresa was a terrible pass blocker in last year's Blue and White game, but he was probably BYU's second best pass blocker behind Quinn Christensen this past season.

Undoubtedly, this year's Cougar offensive line will be better this season for a number of reasons.

First, BYU will not be starting any freshman quarterbacks or offensive lineman in any games. This is huge. After a year of playing experience, the will be fewer surprises for BYU's freshmen offensive linemen of yesteryear. They have seen a wide variety of different blitz packages by very good defenses.

Second, our newly-recruited JC wide receivers will make teams play dearly for blitzing so we will likely see less of it this fall. If teams send their safeties, they are leaving Todd Watkins all alone; or Travis Brown on a linebacker with no help; or 6-3 Joseph Griffin on a 5-9 cornerback.

Indeed, the Cougars will want to make it very risky for teams to blitz against them – and that's how the majority of sacks last season occurred.

If the Cougars successfully move the secondary off the line of scrimmage, we will see more room for running backs Reynaldo Brathwaite, Marcus Whalen or Curtis Brown. BYU may even be able to run effective wide receiver screens.

Third, BYU's offensive line will have had another year of training. Hopefully, Kuresa and Mohetau will come into spring ball in much better shape.

Fourth, this is BYU's most experienced offensive line group since 2001, assuming Eddie Keele is not further bothered by the heart ailment from last season.

Having said this, the Cougars offensive line is still my biggest concern for 2004 this early in the year.

BYU's running backs will be great; the wide receivers and tight end will be much better; and the quarterbacks will be adequate.

I would feel a lot better if I knew Keele was going to be fully healthy. Kuresa and Mohetau will be very good. Scott Young showed me enough in last year's Blue and White game to confirm that he can play solidly as an offensive lineman.

Gary McGiven has a year under his belt and has ability. Center is obviously a huge concern with Scott Jackson's departure. It is still not clear who will fill that spot. We'll have to wait until spring ball to see who emerges.

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