Jason Olson, Deseret News
BYU's starting offensive linemen, David Oswald, left, Travis Bright, Dallas Reynolds, Ray Feinga and Matt Reynolds, have yet to give up a sack.

PROVO — Averaging 42.7 points and 521 total yards per game, BYU's offense is ranked among the nation's leaders in those categories.

But those aren't the most impressive statistics recorded by the Cougars so far this season.

Through three games, the offensive line has not given up a sack, nor has it been flagged for a holding penalty. That's something that, at this point in a season, has never happened before in school history.

Not that the BYU offensive line — which consists of freshman left tackle Matt Reynolds, senior left guard Ray Feinga, senior center Dallas Reynolds, senior right guard Travis Bright and senior right tackle David Oswald — is basking in that glory.

When a reporter told Feinga about the zero sacks and zero holding penalties, he said, "I didn't know that. That's surprising. Thanks for telling me. Hopefully we can keep that up throughout the season. That's one of our goals. Every play, we don't want to let (quarterback) Max (Hall) get hit or give up a sack."

BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall calls the no-sacks stat "a little bit misleading" because Hall sustained a blindside hit in the Northern Iowa game, when he fumbled and it resulted in a Panther touchdown.

"I do count the sack against Northern Iowa," Mendenhall said.

Statistically, though, it doesn't count. But, again, that doesn't matter to the big guys up front, who weigh in at an average of 326.4 pounds and average 6-foot-6 in height.

"We definitely weren't happy with it," Oswald, a 6-foot-8, 330-pounder, said of that hit on Hall. "We took that as a lesson. Even though Max hasn't gone down with the ball, he has been hit a

couple of times. We definitely aren't satisfied with that. We're just trying to get better every week."

"We don't want the quarterback to get hit," said offensive line coach Mark Weber. "The quarterback's been hit a couple of times, and that's more than what we want. Anytime the quarterback gets hit, we're not happy about it."

Other than that breakdown in the season-opener, though, the offensive line has been superb.

"The way they're playing right now kind of fires me up," Hall said. "I've got tons of time to throw the ball and make my reads. I feel very comfortable behind those guys. They're the reason for our success right now."

"I think the offensive line is playing at the highest level since I've been a coach anyplace, including here at BYU," Mendenhall said.

"I think that is the catalyst to our success."

Asked how this O-line compares to others that he's coached, including stops at UCLA, North Carolina and Fresno State, Weber said, "This is the best offensive line I've been fortunate to be around."

What's the personality and identity of this unit?

"Very physical, aggressive. They're very intelligent and they execute and all those things," Weber said. "They're getting down field, they're pushing the pile, they're finishing blocks. They are playing as hard as they can for the most part ... that's the personality they're trying to put on the field, which is what coach Mendenhall preaches, to play as hard as you can on every single play."

Following the Cougars' 59-0 dismantling of UCLA last Saturday, wide receiver Mike Reed paid homage to the blue-collar guys in the trenches.

"Our offensive line deserves all the credit for this game," Reed said. "Any time you can put up 59 points, the quarterback must have had a great amount of time to throw the ball and the running backs must have had big holes to run through.

"This game goes to the offensive line. Those guys don't get enough credit in the media or in the public. They deserve to be Mountain West players of the week — the whole offensive line."

Of course, BYU's offensive line doesn't care about accolades or statistics, just about getting the job done.

"We want to be known as guys who get after the defensive players. Aggressive. Crazy. Nasty," Feinga said. "We set the tone for the games and practices. It's on us first. We take that seriously. We come out and try to set the tone."

What's scary for opponents is, the offensive line has yet to hit its stride.

"So far this year, on a scale from 1-10, we're probably a 7 or 8," Feinga said. "There's a lot of places we can improve."

During fall camp, the offensive line underwent an overhaul, as projected starting center Tom Sorensen was sidelined with a shoulder injury. All-conference left tackle Dallas Reynolds was moved to center and his spot was filled by his brother, Matt, a redshirt freshman.

"We feel bad that Tom went down. He would have been an asset to our offensive line," Oswald said. "But at the same time, we have depth.

"Dallas played all of fall camp at center. By the time we were a couple of weeks into fall camp, we knew Dallas and Matt would be just fine."

What's more, Bright had broken his leg in the Las Vegas Bowl and coaches weren't exactly sure how he had healed. But Bright has answered that question.

"I think he moves better now this year because he's lighter," Weber said.

Two of the keys to the line's success is continuity and experience. Dallas Reynolds, Feinga, Bright and Oswald have been playing together for a couple of years.

"I've been playing next to Travis for a while," Oswald said. "I know where he's going to be and he knows where I'm going to be. The offensive line is pretty experienced. We know what to look for and we correct ourselves, along with coach Weber. Even before he says it, we know exactly what we did wrong."

If there is one stat that the offensive line obsesses over, it's the number of times it knocks down opposing defenders.

"It's a pretty heated competition to see who gets the most,: Oswald said. "Travis Bright had the most last year. He's the defending champ. We're trying to dethrone him."

Cougars on the air

Wyoming (2-1, 0-1)

at No. 14 BYU (3-0, 0-0)

Saturday, 1 p.m.

LaVell Edwards Stadium

TV: The mtn.

Radio: 1160 AM, 102.7 FM


E-mail: [email protected]