PROVO — Jeff Grimes wants girth in BYU’s offensive line, so he’s challenged the tall and lanky to grow a little more sideways.
That’s the word from the former SEC offensive line expert at LSU and Auburn, the heart of college football’s guys-in-the-trenches animal farms.
Six months ago, Grimes shared with me the traits he most desired in a quarterback. First, competitive spirit. Second, accuracy. Third, toughness. Fourth, cerebral capacity.
When asked at BYU football media day how close BYU’s existing offensive linemen are to what he’s used to coaching and playing against at Georgia, Alabama, Auburn, Tennessee and LSU, the native Texan explained his thoughts about desired body types.
“I think there is a difference in every position between here and other places,” said Grimes. “I think our offensive linemen are close to what I’ve seen elsewhere.
“What we have now, by the nature of who we have on campus, is that we have a lot of length. That is good. We do have a lot of height. What we do need is more girth. We need more mass in the A gaps.”
That, in simple terms, means truck fenders and bumpers on some sedan-type bodies, whale parts on sharks.
“Part of that is the development of the players who are here. I’d say maybe half of the linemen we’ve asked to put on more weight," Grimes said. "Another 30 or 40 percent we’ve asked to stay the same and just get stronger. Another couple of guys we’ve asked to lose weight. At other places I’ve been we’ve had to ask guys to go down in weight when they were a little bit too big when they come to us.
“So, we’ve asked some, the majority, to bulk up. The other thing we work on is recruiting, to find guys at center and guard who wouldn’t fit in one of these chairs, guys who’d need two chairs to fit their rear ends in. We need a little bit more of that.”
As Grimes and his protégé, offensive line coach Ryan Pugh, and graduate assistant coach Dallas Reynolds spent spring “noticing” trends in development among BYU linemen and witnessing interactions, they’ve seen what good leaders look like.
Grimes likes Austin Hoyt, a veteran tackle, whom he said has done a great job.
The other day Grimes was walking through BYU’s locker room with his seventh-grade son, who will play offensive and defensive line. He said to his son, pointing to Hoyt:
“You know what? That guy is an NFL offensive tackle. That’s what they look like.”
Grimes then complimented Hoyt.
“I told Austin that he looked a whole lot different from when I first met him. When I first took this job, he was the first player I met," Grimes recounted. "He just happened to be sitting on the tailgate of his pickup as I was walking into the SAB and Kalani introduced me to him.
“He was a great-looking guy then. He is even a greater looking player now and it is amazing what a guy with the right mindset and motivation will do with his body in six months that he hadn’t done in the previous three or four years. He really looks different.
"I think that is really going to pay off. During spring he really emerged as a guy who wasn’t just focused on his job but cared what the rest of the offense did as well.”
Grimes likes Notre Dame transfer Tristen Hoge, who redshirted last year.
“Tristen has been a guy who has been very consistent as far as his diligence in being one of the first guys in and last guys out of the locker room. He’s a guy who is always going to give you his best on and off the field. He’s going to eat right, get in the weight room extra, and study the playbook.”
Veteran Thomas Shoaf is another leader on that line, said Grimes.43 comments on this story
“He did a good job this spring. He’s been hurt and has had to sit out. It’s hard to be a vocal leader when you aren’t out there. But when he came back, we felt the difference he made immediately in the line.”
All in all, Grimes and his staff have yet to see the full weight, height and girth in a real game in which their work the past six months can properly be evaluated.
That will come after the Sept. 1 game at Arizona.
But this is summer. It’s a time they are asked and they answer.
Pass the potatoes, guys.