BYU offensive line coach Garett Tujague has a unit filled with size, experience and talent.
The list of guys who played in at least six games in 2013 is pretty long:
- junior Terrance Alletto (10 games)
- junior Edward Fusi (10)
- sophomore Kyle Johnson (13)
- senior Quinn Lawlor (6)
- junior Ryker Mathews (10)
- senior Brock Stringham (8)
- senior De'Ondre Wesley (12)
- sophomore Brad Wilcox (13)
- senior Michael Yeck (13)
Now it's time to start getting things organized.
"I'm looking forward to finding the first five hopefully here by this weekend," Tujague said after practice on Tuesday. "Then we'll kind of stick with them and get our chemistry built with them."
Just because an offensive lineman makes that list, however, doesn't mean he can relax, according to Tujague.
"I don't ever want anyone getting comfortable," he said. "We're here today and tomorrow is a gift, so you have to make the most of the opportunity. Nobody gets comfortable on our offensive line."
The offensive line competition has forced guys to get better, but Tujague said it has also increased the depth. That could be vital given the pace the BYU offense goes and the inevitability of injuries.
"I think there are seven or eight guys who could go and play tomorrow," he said. "And we wouldn't miss a beat if we had to move guys around. I'd like to get to 10 or 11. I want someone to have to fight their tail off to get on the plane for UConn and that's happening."
Junior center Edward Fusi explained that even though the guys are fighting for a spot on the field, they also are working together to get better.
"We are getting better," Fusi said. "I think we all work really hard. If we screw up, we try to fix the situation. Everyone is working to help others see mistakes and correct them, keep getting better."
The combination of teamwork and physicality can be credited to some of the leaders.
Fusi talked about how there is a lot of joking that goes on among the linemen, but at the same time those guys push everyone to be their best on the field.
"I think De'Ondre [Wesley] has done an amazing job through his actions," Tujague said. "Brock as well, through his actions. Their leadership has been phenomenal."
Another big addition will be freshman Tuni Kanuch, a former defensive lineman who got rave reviews in spring. Tujague said Kanuch is getting closer to being back on the field after being limited by injury in the early part of camp.
"I'm really anxious to get Tuni [Kanuch] back in the yard because that dude is all about whopping tail," Tujague said. "You have very A-type, physical personalities in that room. You better get your game up."
The thing Tujague likes the most is the mentality those athletes display. He said the identity of this group is "hard-edged" and they were determined to make their presence felt.
Sometimes that came across in some of the extracurricular scuffling that went on during practices. Tujague said he wants to see guys make their presence known.
"I'm not saying be first, but if someone pushes you and you don't like that, then you need to speak your mind," he said. "Let them know in a respective manner but in the same breath that you're not going to be pushed around."
He added he doesn't just want his guys mixing up with the defensive players, but it's about having the correct approach to the game.
"You don't want it to overcome practice," Tujague said. "The only way you get better at football is by playing it, not by fighting. But there is zero-tolerance and it's not acceptable to be pushed around."
The defensive guys have certainly noticed a difference this fall, according to Cougar junior defensive lineman Remington Peck.
"Two springs ago, when Coach [Robert] Anae first came back, honestly the defensive line would win every repetition," Peck said. "We'd do one-on-ones, base-reach-cutoff, and the defense would win every rep. It's completely different now. It's a battle, especially from this spring to fall camp."