The suspense over who will start at quarterback for the Brigham Young Cougars in the Poinsettia Bowl is capturing most of the headlines. As important as the quarterback position is, the offensive line may be just as pivotal to BYU winning the game as who is behind center.
Whether it has been lack of continuity due to injury, lack of discipline, or lack of talent, the offensive line has had its share of struggles this season. It is just as easy to build a case blaming the offensive line for the losses this season as it is Riley Nelson. Penalties by the offensive line and poor blocking cost BYU dearly against
and Utah . Boise State
At key moments in the games against
and Notre Dame, both opponents were able to alter the course of the game—in their favor—by winning the battle in the trenches. Whether it was a sack that took BYU out of field goal range, pressure that forced an interception, or a sack that forced a field goal when BYU really needed a touchdown, the offensive line didn’t do its part to help the team win. Oregon State
BYU can't afford any of this against San Diego State.
defense is capable of bringing pressure. The Aztecs have sacked the opposing quarterback 31 times this season, which is exactly how many sacks BYU has this season. The 31 sacks is tied for 25th most in the nation. San Diego State got two sacks against San Diego State , while BYU had just one. Boise State has allowed only eight sacks all season. The BYU offensive line ranks 88th in the nation in sacks allowed (28). Boise State
It is also important to point out that this is a Rocky Long defense. He developed the kamikaze
3-3-5 defense at . This defensive scheme can bring pressure from anywhere. The BYU offensive line has to come ready. It’s not just that New Mexico might throw anything at BYU, the Aztecs will. San Diego State
As detailed yesterday, hate isn’t a strong enough word to describe the feelings
has for BYU. There is nothing they want more for an early Christmas present than to beat BYU. Emotions will be running high on the San Diego State sideline. Typically, teams play their best in emotionally charges games. San Diego State
This might be the biggest game in
football history since the 1979 or 1986 meeting between these two schools. With a win, San Diego State will have double digit wins for the first time since 1977. San Diego State
BYU, and the offensive line in particular, needs to come prepared for an amped up
defense. Use the 2008 TCU game as a reference point for what I am talking about. San Diego State
If the o-line isn’t ready, it won’t matter who is at quarterback. He will be running for his life. Arm strength won't matter since he won't have time to get a deep pass off. Mobility won't help much because the pressure will be coming from everywhere.
While the decision over starting James Lark or Riley Nelson looms large, it may be a moot point after the game. It all starts up front. The BYU offensive line will be challenged in every way possible. BYU can’t afford the same mental mistakes and breakdowns in protection at key moments that have crippled the offense at times this season.