PROVO — After the offense stalled in a 19-16 loss to the University of Virginia last Saturday, offensive coordinator Robert Anae is looking to jump start his crew before they take on Texas this week by shaking up the offensive line.
"We're going to do some shuffling of the line, and we're going to see how some other guys respond," said Anae. "We have four guys right now who look to hold their spots...and we only want the best players on the field."
Those starters will be Michael Yeck switching from right tackle to left tackle, Manaaki Vaitai at left guard, Terrance Alletto remaing at center, and Brock Strigham taking over right tackle. The starting right guard position is still open to competition. Anae said the purpose of the change is to find unity up front to allow both the pass and run games to prosper. "That's been our primary focus this week — to develop ourselves as a group," said Anae. "A group that not only goes fast but can go hard."
You can listen to post-practice audio from Robert Anae, Ryker Mathews and Ross Apo by clicking on the links in "Cougar Cuts," above left.
One surprise was Ryker Mathews not being included as a starter for this week against Texas. Mathews gave no excuse for his poor performance last week and said the offensive line as whole needs to step up their physicality.
"We need to be a lot more physical and throw dudes around," said Mathews. "Whether it's a 10, 15 play drive or a three play drive, we got to perform the same every time, no matter what."
Mathews added that the entire offense is well aware of Texas's talented defensive front and is preparing to take them head-on in the trenches. "They have a great front seven; very physical and very athletic," said Matthews. "We're preparing our best for it."
Wide receiver Ross Apo has a special interest in this week's game. He grew up in Texas and originally committed to the Longhorns before changing his mind to come to BYU. His connections to the Lone Star state provide him with extra motivation to leave the field with a victory this weekend.
"I looked forward to it last time we played them, and I wanted to beat them so bad," said Apo. "I have the same approach this year; I just want to beat them however, whatever it takes, however it takes, I want to beat them."
Players and coaches agree that if the Cougars are to pull out the win, the team will need to find its identity on offense and play with greater focus and execution.
"It's been a 180 from the game," said Apo. "Coach told us (that) he's seen a big difference from Virginia. I think this week's focus is a lot higher."
"I do believe we come away from (last week's game) with a little better understanding of who we are," said Anae. "Going into this week, our focus is on that -- not on who we aren't but on who we are."
Hopefully finding who they are will also lead to finding more points on the scoreboard.
Photos: Courtesy of BYU Photo
Jason Ludlow is a KSL Newsradio BYU Intern