The big uglies never get enough credit for all their dirty work in the trenches. In the last few years, the BYU offensive line hasn't deserved much credit. It got to the point where casual BYU fans were starting to notice the lack of production.
Reports from fall camp were praising the talent and depth of the offensive line. Last Friday against the Huskies of UConn was the first chance for the, "War Daddies," to make their statement.
The offense was able to get out to a quick start by taking a 21-0 lead in the first half. BYU's offensive line was able to give Taysom plenty of time to scan the field and pass the ball or tuck it and run. The offensive line was not required to do much with their pass blocking by design of UConn's defense. Their defensive line was rushing 3 lineman trying to contain Taysom in the pocket and not flush him out where he is more dangerous. This may have given the perception that the cougar o-line was dominating the pass rush. The reality of our talent at pass-blocking will be revealed against Texas who will surely be able to put more pressure on the pocket. When it came to keeping defenders off of Taysom, the o-line did their job against the Huskies even if it didn't require that much effort.
The run-blocking is another story. BYU's offensive line did not get very much push. That is a pretty vague statement that many fans like to throw out there but it was evident. The read-option offense can be an exciting, and unpredictable offense but if the defense commits to taking away the quarterback run to the outside, the offensive line has to create room for the half-back rushing up the middle.
In those situations, the offensive line was able to create an initial wedge and get good position on the d-line. This might create a hole for the half-back but it quickly gets filled by a linebacker and stops the run for 1-3 yards. Our zone-blocking scheme requires the lineman to not only seal the initial block but to seek out the next level of defenders. The o-line was settling for double-teaming the nose tackle or they were inefficient at finding the linebacker. In order to have another Texas-like rushing day, the o-line needs to get more active in getting a good push on the defense.
The good news is that BYU has two freshmen starting in Ului Lapuaho at left tackle and Tejan Koroma at center. They will continue to progress as well as the whole line becoming more cohesive in blocking assignments. The second unit also performed well and it was hard to notice a difference in performance. It is evident that the talent and depth is better than year's past and this was one of the major questions marks coming into this season.
What Coach Anae decides to do for the Texas game will be very interesting. BYU had success in the passing game as well as the outside runs/swing passes. This allows BYU to not rely on the o-line creating the space in between the tackles. The down-field blocking of the wide receivers and running backs led to a couple touchdowns against UConn and may be a surprising strength in our offense. Coach Anae could also shake up the lineup as he did going into last year's game against Texas. Hopefully, he plays his cards right again so that the offensive line can have another great game against the Longhorns.
Overall, the offensive line showed improvement from last year. If they live up to their potential on Saturday, they just might get another defensive coordinator fired.