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BYU football offensive line bolstered by addition of Suamataia

By Jared Lloyd - | Aug 9, 2022

Jaren Wilkey, BYU Photo

BYU offensive lineman Kingsley Suamataia (left) runs a drill during the first day of fall camp in Provo on Thursday, August 4, 2022.

When a veteran coach like BYU offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick describes the athleticism of a player as “freakish” and says “I’ve never seen anything like it, ever,” it certainly something to take note of.

That’s what Roderick said Monday after practice about Cougar freshman offensive lineman Kingsley Suamataia.

“He’s the best athlete I’ve ever seen at offensive line,” Roderick said. “He’s a very talented guy.”

While his ability certainly has allowed Suamataia — a former star at Orem who transferred after one season at Oregon — to earn opportunities, BYU offensive line coach Darrell Funk emphasized that the freshman still has plenty to work on.

“He’s doing a real good job,” Funk said. “He’s right in the thick of things. He’s running well, he’s physical and he’s in good shape. But he’s still got to work on some of the nuances that you can’t just pick up in a spring. You’ve got to pick them up with more and more reps.”

For his part, Suamataia said he is enjoying the process and focused on improving.

“It’s been amazing,” Suamataia said. “We came off a great spring ball with the team and ever since during the summer workouts we’ve all been grinding. We came back to fall ball and we’ve got a lot of stuff to work on. So it’s looking really good.”

He said that being able to work with a group of experienced players on the Cougar offensive line has been a big plus.

“It’s great,” Suamataia said. “We all have different things we’re good at. We’re all just trying to get better and be as one. If we come together and play as one, we’ll be unstoppable.”

That addition of Suamataia to a group that has so many guys with playing experience has put Funk and Roderick in an unusual position.

“We are open to playing more than five guys and there is a good chance that we will,” Roderick said. “I wouldn’t just say it is likely. I would say it is probable.”

Roderick said he had complete trust in Funk to make the call about how to decide which offensive linemen get on the field.

For his part, Funk said he’s having to do things differently than he normally does because of the amount talent BYU has this season.

“We just have too many good players who have played and know what they are doing or will be pretty polished by then,” Funk said. “Normally I don’t like to sub a lot because you have the continuity of the group. But if they are deserving and there is no drop off, we’ll rotate.”

Funk is also being purposeful in how he cross-trains the linemen because he wants a balance between versatility and excellence at one position.

“I always tell the kids that their versatility is a curse for them because they have to water themselves down but it’s a blessing for the coaches,” Funk said. “It’s great to have the versatility of two or three guys who can play any position but with other guys, like Blake Freeland, why rep him anywhere but left tackle? If he is in the game, he should be at left tackle. There is no reason to cross-train him.”

Funk said that most of the linemen are taught at least two positions to ensure the Cougars are ready for any eventuality and Suamataia is no exception.

“He plays right, he plays left, and he could start at either position,” Funk said. “I have not slid him inside. I’ve just kept him on the edges. I think that’s his natural position. And it’s easier to learn. He still has to learn right and left but at least he’s learning the same position.”

Suamataia said that for this BYU offensive line to reach its potential, it has to keep putting in the work and developing the necessary cohesion.

“If we are all on the same page, that’s what is going to make the difference,” Suamataia said. “After practice, some of us are always telling Coach that we want to go work on the things we missed in practice and answer questions from the youngers guys. It’s important to make the mistakes in practice and learn from them so on gameday we don’t do that.”

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