Player 28 Mekeli Ieremia – Defensive End – 1974-1977
As it has been mentioned before in other articles, Lavell Edwards was known for having really good offenses and defenses that were just good enough to get a few stops. The strategy often times was to score so many points that too many mistakes by the other team would just about guarantee a win for the Cougars.
What is often forgotten is that despite that strategy, there were still plenty of times when the offense did struggle and the defense had to step up. Also, some of the greatest players to ever play for the Cougars happened in the Lavell Edwards era including Mekeli Ieremia.
Ieremia was the kind of player who lived in the backfield causing havoc and problems for opposing teams all the time whether he was getting the sack or not.
1974-1977 was the transition period for BYU Football from being a bad team to an average team to actually a pretty good team. In that time, the Cougars won eight really close games and struggled to score more than 25 points in nine wins. In those games, Mekeli Ieremia played a critical role of not only getting into the backfield and causing havoc, but also containing runners, which at this time was 80% of the playcalls from getting to the outside.
Mekeli Ieremia is the best defensive end statistically that BYU has ever had. While he didn’t have the huge plays that other players had like Kyle Van Noy or Shawn Knight, his consistency was unmatched. For his career he totaled 257 tackles, 27 sacks, 15 tackles for loss, five forced fumbles, and 42 quarterback hurries. His best season came his junior year when he broke the BYU sack record that still holds today and had 17 sacks in a season.
Memorable Moments A
What sticks out to me for than anything is the 42 QB hurries and 27 sacks during Ieremia’s career. Again, this is the mid 1970’s when running the ball was the normal style of offense. He must of been a factor in at least 20% of the pass attempts. We can only imagine what kind of numbers he would have been able to put up in today’s game with some quarterbacks throwing it 40 times a game. Although I couldn’t find any game footage, in a game against New Mexico he totaled 14 tackles, two forced fumbles, a sack and four tackles for loss. That is almost on the Kyle Van Noy bowl game level of dominance. In a game against UTEP he had 20 tackles!