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BYU Football Position Preview: Offensive line continues search for backup center

An experienced group is poised for a big year, if it stays healthy.

Tejan Koroma will start for the Cougars, but who will back him up?
Tejan Koroma will start for the Cougars, but who will back him up?
Jay Drowns/Getty Images

As it was in 2014 and in most seasons, BYU's offensive line will play a key role for the Cougars this year. As it stands they have some experience under their belt.

However, there are also some concerns with injuries. With an experienced quarterback in Taysom Hill and a good group of receivers, the line needs to focus on opening holes for the current crop of running backs (which is minus Jamaal Williams) while giving Hill just a little more time. Offensive coordinator Robert Anae said early in fall camp that he was comfortable with 7-8 offensive linemen rotating in and out but hopefully a few others have impressed and will make the rotation.

In what may be the key position for the Cougars, BYU has a well-established starter at center in Tejan Koroma. The aggressive play by Koroma has given him a chance to show a little nasty on the field and is one of the reasons he is so good on the line.

The problem is finding his backup. Up to this point the coaches have given a few players some reps at center, and Parker Dawe is moving up the depth chart. Kyle Johnson may have had a leg up on backup center duties but will likely be called on to start elsewhere. True freshman Jacob Jimenez has seen practice time at center as well.

Johnson is a junior that is expected to contribute on the left side as the starting guard. Next to Johnson will be Ryker Mathews. The senior tackle has solidified himself on the left end and is the most experienced lineman on the roster.

On the right side, Ului Lapuaho seemed to have solidified the right guard position in camp after spending most of 2014 at left tackle -- but Jay Drew reported that according to Lapuaho himself, he will be starting at right tackle.

Despite being plagued by injuries, the strong Tuni Kanuch is on track to start at right guard -- giving BYU what I would expect to be quite the road-plowing abilities on the right side in the run game. Kanuch has often been heralded as the strongest overall player on the team, so we hope to see what he can do when healthy.

Even more encouraging: The trio of Koroma, Kanuch and Lapuaho are all sophomores, which potentially gives the Cougars the same starting center and right side for three consecutive seasons. Nothing but good can come from that if everyone can stay healthy.

It will be interesting to see who backs up the guards and tackles as many of the linemen are receiving cross training. Junior Brad Wilcox has led the charge to be in the short lineman rotation and Austin Hoyt is staying right with him.

A few other players who could eventually see time are Manu MulitaloJ.J. Nwigwe, and Jaterrius Gulley.

It is imperative that the line protect Hill as he goes through his reads so he doesn't have to scramble as much, preventing unnecessary risk to his health. When the Cougars can win the line of scrimmage, the offense may be close to unstoppable -- but protection and opening holes for the runners will be just as much of a game changer as anything Hill will do.