PROVO BYU's big offensive line should be a strength of the offense, but the coach that works with the hogs up front expects improvement from how the unit played last Saturday against Northern Iowa to this Saturday's game against Washington in Seattle.
"I thought it was a good, solid performance last week, but we have a lot of things we need to correct and work on," said offensive line coach Mark Weber.
"We have great kids who did some awesome things considering we have a guy playing a new position (Dallas Reynolds at center) and another new guy who hadn't played before (Matt Reynolds, left tackle).
The Cougars rushed for 77 yards (2.8 yards per rush) in a contest in which the offense turned to the pass and accumulated 563 total yards in a 41-17 win over Northern Iowa.
Bronco Mendenhall said rushing for a hundred yards is a "statistical" mark which predicts success by BYU over the years.
But this Saturday, the tables turn and the pressure to run will be considerably tougher against Washington.
"It will be a good challenge playing a Pac-10 team in a hostile, hostile environment," Mendenhall said. "It will be very loud there with a lot of fans. They have good players and they're fighting like crazy to get their first win, so it will be a good challenge, and we need to make the appropriate improvement this week."
One Husky lineman who really stands out on film is defensive end Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, a 6-foot-5, 263-pound junior who was named UW's most valuable defensive player last season.
"He's a great athlete; they (the Huskies' front four) are all very good football players," Weber said.
"They won't play us the same way they played Oregon (which whipped Washington last weekend). They're pretty athletic and they'll be a challenge for us."
Asked about BYU's run-blocking against the Panthers last week, Weber said his guys need to be more consistent.
"You can't single one guy out. It's like pass protection. It takes the line, the backs and the receivers doing things on time. It's a whole unit thing," Weber said. "We need consistency and we need to sustain blocks longer and be more sharp, all of us."
Weber said he graded his linemen and had David Oswald, Travis Bright and Matt Reynolds with the highest marks after last week. He said the sack/fumble for a touchdown on Max Hall was Matt Reynolds' responsibility, but he credits 50 percent of the mistake on a great play by the Northern Iowa defensive player.
"Matt relaxed on a technique and the other guy took advantage of it," Weber said. "At this level, you cannot ever relax because the other guys will take advantage of it."
Cougars' head coach Bronco Mendenhall called Wednesday's practice "sloppy" with some dropped passes and execution issues.
"I think it's a culmination of a return to school for the second day," he said. "The intent was right but the execution wasn't where it needed to be. The plan is right and the players are willing."
He said he looked forward to cleaning things up at practice today.33 comments on this story
"As I look back to my notes of previous years, the first days of school tend to impact practice," Mendenhall said.EXTRA POINTS: BYU's staff deployed some speakers with loud crowd noise at Wednesday's practice, but it came later than expected, prompting Mendenhall to note it was another "management" issue. ... Guard Ray Feinga (ankle) will be fine, said Weber, after the senior missed some action Saturday and some practice time this week. ... Safety Andrew Rich (broken hand) wore a cast during Wednesday's practice. "He'll play; it is more protective than corrective," said Mendenhall. ... Austin Collie saw more practice time as a kickoff return man and did field some punts. Mendenhall said he could see some situational work on punt returns but would not be the primary kickoff returner.