Cougars’ offensive line improving, coach insists
By Jay drew
The Salt Lake TribuneFirst published Oct 08 2013 12:04AM
Provo • Although BYU rushed for a season-low 160 yards in Friday’s 31-14 win over Utah State and quarterback Taysom Hill was sacked twice and had to scramble out of trouble several other times, Cougars coach Bronco Mendenhall said Monday that his makeshift offensive line continues to improve, if only by small steps.
The line, which played without starter Brock Stringham and valuable backups De’Ondre Wesley and Edward Fusi and only in spurts with starter Ryker Mathews, graded out the same as in the past few games, Mendenhall said.
"They are still a work in progress," he said. "But I thought Utah State’s front seven was really physical, and did a really nice job against our run game. So their grading wasn’t significantly different than what it has been. We still have a ways to go."
Wesley (concussion) and Stringham (shoulder) should be able to play on Saturday against Georgia Tech (5 p.m., ESPNU), which should give the much-maligned group a shot in the arm.
"It is going to make a lot of difference, not only for practices, but for the game," Mendenhall said. "So it gives us a chance to rotate more players, to keep guys fresher. It doesn’t necessarily mean you will see a different product, but I think it gives us a better chance than what we have had."
If there was a positive sign, the offensive line didn’t commit a single false start penalty in the face of a rowdy, raucous crowd at Romney Stadium, something the offensive linemen struggled with the first four games.
Mendenhall said linebacker Tyler Beck, who missed the Utah State game with a hamstring injury, practiced Monday and should be able to play Saturday. Running back and kick returner Adam Hine (concussion vs. MTSU) also practiced Monday after missing the USU game and will play this week.
The coach said the Cougar suffered no new or significant injuries in the game for the first time this season.
Running back Jamaal Williams had just 14 carries for 78 yards against USU in his first game back since suffering a concussion against Utah, but should see more carries this week.
"Jamaal will carry the ball more this week than last week, but we are still going to use Alge [Brown] some," Mendenhall said.
Brown, a freshman, has moved ahead of Paul Lasike and Hine on the depth chart and is now listed as the starting halfback.
Linebacker Kyle Van Noy earned FBS Independent Defensive Player of the Week honors for the second straight week and fifth time in his career on Monday. Van Noy returned an interception 17 yards for a touchdown against Utah State and also had five tackles, a pass breakup and a quarterback hurry. Van Noy has scored five defensive touchdowns in his career.
BYU-Houston time set
BYU’s Oct. 19 game at the University of Houston will kick off at 1:30 p.m. MDT and will be played at Reliant Stadium, officials announced Monday. It will be televised by either ABC, ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU. Definite TV plans won’t be finalized until after this weekend’s games. Houston (4-0) hosts Memphis (1-3) on Saturday.
Senior linebacker Uani Unga recorded a career-high 16 tackles against Utah State. Junior defensive back Robertson Daniel had 10 tackles, most in his BYU career. … Williams moved up to No. 22 on BYU’s career rushing yards list and now has 1,232. … With three catches against the Aggies, receiver Cody Hoffman moved up to No. 2 on the school’s career receptions list with 216. … Daniel Sorensen’s block of a Utah State field goal was the Cougars’ first block since last year (Sept. 15) against Utah.