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BYU football: Beyond probable starters, O-line has no depth

Published March 26, 2015 9:27 am

BYU football • "We have not arrived," Anae says of young, unproven group.
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Provo • Having gone against BYU's offensive line in many of the eight practices of spring camp to date, Cougar defensive lineman Remington Peck offers a mixed review of the unit that will likely make or break BYU's attack in 2015.

"The first group is really good," says Peck. "After that, there's a big drop-off, just to be frank."

If the projected starting five of juniors Brad Wilcox and Kyle Johnson and sophomores Tejan Koroma, Tuni Kanuch and Ului Lapuaho can stay healthy — and that's a big if — BYU's offensive line could be outstanding the next two seasons when the Cougars take on the likes of Nebraska, UCLA, Michigan and Missouri in 2015 and Arizona, Utah, West Virginia and Michigan State in 2016.

Senior Ryker Mathews, a part-time starter in each of his first three seasons, suffered a knee injury on the final play of the Miami Beach Bowl and underwent surgery a week later. Mathews will battle Wilcox to get his starting left tackle spot back.

"I should be 100 percent by June and will be full-go in fall camp," Mathews said Monday.

Offensive line coach Garett Tujague said Wednesday that he is a long way from naming a starting five. Based on practice observation, the favorites appear to be Wilcox or Mathews at left tackle, Kyle Johnson at left guard, Koroma at center, Kanuch at right guard and Lapuaho at right tackle.

"I feel that there are guys that have taken steps forward this spring," Tujague said. "Am I comfortable? No. I would love to have 12 or 13 guys all fighting for a starting spot. So that is my objective, my goal. Having two or three guys coming off missions and slowly bringing them in and having 12 or 13 guys that can absolutely go in and play on Saturday, that would be ideal."

But it is not realistic. As Peck said, the drop-off is significant.

Parker Dawe, a junior from Pleasant Grove, backs up freshman All-America Koroma at center and is also pushing Kanuch at right guard, offensive coordinator Robert Anae said.

On Wednesday, the second unit consisted of sophomore Brian Rawlinson at left tackle, junior Manu Mulitalo at left guard, Dawe at center, converted defensive lineman Jaterrius Gulley at right guard and sophomore walk-on Dallas Doane at right tackle.

"Happy?" asked Anae, rhetorically. "That's a term that I really don't know anything about. So I will tell you what that means. Because to me that means maybe you've arrived at the offensive line. To answer that, no, we have not arrived at the offensive line."

Is help on the way? Not exactly.

Tujague has high hopes for the only returning missionary who plays offensive line — Austin Hoyt, a 6-7, 286-pounder from Ione, Calif., who redshirted in 2012.

"He needs to get his legs stronger, but athletically, he is going to be special," Tujague said.

In February, BYU signed offensive linemen Kieffer Longson, Brady Christensen, J.J. Nwigwe, Demetrius Davis and Jacob Jimenez from the high school ranks. Longson and Christensen are expected to go on church missions before enrolling, and the other three are raw.

"I am concerned with the depth. I am not concerned with how they are playing [in camp]," coach Bronco Mendenhall said. "I would like three more quality offensive linemen for this upcoming year, is really what I would like to have. I think they are playing well at this point, but man, yeah, we still need more depth and more consistency."


Twitter: @drewjay —

BYU's projected offensive line

Player Position Year Ht/Wt

Brad Wilcox Left tackle Junior 6-7/305

Kyle Johnson Left guard Junior 6-4/303

Tejan Koroma Center Sophomore 6-0/280

Tuni Kanuch Right guard Sophomore 6-3/325

Ului Lapuaho Right tackle Sophomore 6-7/333

Note: Senior Ryker Mathews, starting left tackle in 2014, had offseason knee surgery and will rejoin the team this summer.






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