BYU football: 11 O-linemen will travel to Virginia, all 11 will play
Provo • No fewer than 11 offensive linemen will make the trip to Virginia this weekend for the Cougars' college football season-opener against the Cavaliers, BYU offensive line coach Garett Tujague said Tuesday.
In the past, the Cougars have traveled 8-10 offensive linemen. Most NFL teams travel seven or eight.
Another shocker: "Every guy that gets on the plane is going to play, no matter what," Tujague said. "They will all play, because we have to. With the way we are trying to do it [run rapid-fire plays], this is what we are going to do."
The first-year line coach acknowledged that the scene might look chaotic, with perhaps several big guys running off and on the field before any given play. But he insists the scheme "has been calculated out, how we are going to do it. ... We have a plan for it."
On the depth chart released Monday, sophomore Terrance Alletto is the line's only guaranteed starter, at center. He will be backed up by freshman Brayden Kearsley.
At the other four spots, two names are listed, with the word "and" between them.
The left tackles are Ryker Mathews and Brad Wilcox. The left guards are Solomone Kafu and Kearsley. The right guards are Brock Stringham and Manaaki Vaitai and the right tackles are Michael Yeck and De'Ondre Wesley.
Tujague said sophomore Tui Crichton and Kyle Johnson, a freshman walk-on from Jordan High, will also travel.
"It could be series one. It could be series two. It could be play two. You just gotta be ready," Tujague has told his players. "Man, I love that."
Exposure for everyone
Because they play BYU in the opener and No. 3 Oregon on Sept. 7, Virginia will play in front of large television audiences the first two weeks of the season, Cavaliers senior offensive tackle Luke Bowanko noted Monday.
"Much more people will be watching. It will be a broader audience," Bowanko said. "They will be watching to see what BYU is going to do. Hopefully by the end of the game, they will be like, 'Wow, those kids from Virginia can play ball.' So it is great having the spotlight on you. It helps you motivate yourself."
More on Tujague
Offensive coordinator Robert Anae raised some eyebrows on Tuesday when he said Tujague is the best O-line coach the Cougars have had, "by far," since the legendary Roger French, who coached at BYU from 1980-2000 under head coach LaVell Edwards.
French, who coached both Anae at Tujague, "challenged your every wit, your every ability. If you made it through, it was like your own little badge of honor," Anae said. "I have to admit, I look at Coach Tujague coach those guys, and there are times when I feel sorry for them."
Saturday's game marks the first meeting between BYU and Virginia since 2000, when the Cougars beat the Cavaliers 38-35 in overtime in Charlottesville in Edwards' final year. ... The Cougars have won six straight season-openers, but are just 7-12 against ACC foes.