Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News
Ryker Mathews a Freshman Offensive lineman watches during a play as BYU football practices Thursday, Aug. 11, 2011.

Freshman left tackle Ryker Mathews played in his first collegiate game, and made his first career start, on Aug. 30 against Washington State. The 6-foot-6, 292-pounder from American Fork High talked with Deseret News sports writer Jeff Call this week about his first game, the injury he has overcome, and filling big shoes at left tackle.

Q: How did your first game go, and was it everything you thought it would be?

A: "It was good. It was a great experience. I feel like I did all right, but I have a ton to improve on. Anyone that watches the film knows I have a ton to work on. It was nice to have that first game under my belt. It was everything I thought it would be and more. It was a feeling like none other. It's amazing."

Q: How's the offensive line coming together?

A: "We've come together great. We're young, but we have some veterans helping us out. For the most part, we're a good unit and we play well together and love each other. We all have stuff we have to work on. We're looking forward to keep getting better with them through the season."

Q: What's it like replacing Matt Reynolds, a four-year starter at left tackle?

A: "I'm trying to fill huge shoes. Matt was a great player. Last year, I got injured, so I had the opportunity to sit in meetings and focus on him and watch what he did. I learned a lot from him. He was a technician. He was a hard worker and did really good. It was nice to sit back and watch him."

Q: How tough was it to have a season-ending injury last year?

A: "It was rough. I wanted to be out there, battling with my buddies. I tore my plantar plate in my foot at the end of fall camp last year. I had to have surgery. I was out for almost eight months. Foot injuries are never nice.. It was very frustrating for me. I love the game and it's tough when something like that keeps me from it. But that's life. It happens. You can't do much about it."

Q: Why did you choose to play at BYU?

A: "The coaches are great, but what I noticed here was the family aspect of the team. We're great friends. In fall camp, the offense and defense are battling and we're getting into fights because it's intense. But in the locker room, we are all really good friends and we all hang out together outside of football. I saw that when I was being recruited. I love that about BYU."