PROVO — BYU will host tradition-rich Texas inside LaVell Edwards Stadium Saturday evening, and the Cougars are looking forward to the challenge.
“Just when you hear (Texas), you get goosebumps,” senior linebacker Austen Jorgensen said. “I’m just stoked. It’s going to be an awesome game.”
With starting Mike linebacker Uani Unga listed as questionable, Jorgensen may take on a bigger role Saturday. Unga has participated in non-contact drills this week, but coaches won't know whether he'll be available until game day.
If Unga can’t go, coaches feel confident that a rotation of Jorgensen and Tyler Beck can suffice.
“You got two backups who are seniors that have played, and they know the defense,” said defensive coordinator Nick Howell. “Our guys trust them and they practice hard.”
BYU will have to be at its best to slow down a high-powered, fast Texas offense that put up 715 yards against New Mexico State last week. The Longhorns present a balanced attack that is similar to the one that gashed BYU in the second half of a game between the schools back in 2011.
“It’s the same personnel,” Howell said. “You’re going to watch the same guys that were freshmen. They’re now juniors, so it’s a little bit of a rematch with the personnel they have versus ours.”
The Texas attack, and specifically the Longhorns' zone-read option, gave BYU's defense fits in 2011. According to Howell, however, the defense has seen the same attack numerous times since and has adjusted to it effectively.
“This is the type of matchup you dream about,” Jorgensen said. “You love the challenge this team, and this offense, presents.”
DANIEL AND POVEY EQUAL TO THE TASK: Given that he had no prior Division I experience, many were nervous about Robertson Daniel starting at field corner. Daniel himself wasn’t one of them.
The junior college transfer was tested early last Saturday, but quickly proved capable by knocking down the first two passes thrown his way against Virginia.
“Everyone has to step up after a while and injuries happen,” Daniel said. “You have to be ready to take on the role given you, so it was easy. It wasn’t that hard.”
As for Skye PoVey, he was just happy to be healthy enough to play.
The walk-on has battled through injury issues that have kept him off the field. He was set to play a big role last season before suffering a foot injury that ultimately kept him out for the entire year.
PoVey reinjured the same foot twice in the offseason before deciding to give it one more go.
“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think about quitting,” PoVey said. “I mean, I’m a walk-on and I’m paying to be here and it’s not easy. It hasn’t been easy, but I just kept fighting through it and believing that it would all work out somehow, and it has. It’s started to work out and come around.”
PoVey aims to make the most of his opportunity and is anxious to get out there again against the Longhorns.
“It’s a dream come true to play Division I football,” PoVey said. “Coming here and playing after battling through injuries, and everything else I’ve been through — it’s a neat experience.”
— Receiver Cody Hoffman practiced Wednesday and is listed as "probable" for Saturday’s game. Defensive back Mike Hague is listed as "doubtful," however.
— Coach Bronco Mendenhall says he’s happy with the two-man rotation of Eathyn Manumaleuna and Marques Johnson at nose tackle and has no current plans to add a third player to the rotation.
— Mendenhall was very pleased with the play of walk-on defensive end Logan Taele. “He’s a walk-on, but he’s playing well. He gives us some flexibility at end along with Bronson (Kaufusi) and Remington (Peck). But he’d be the next guy in. ... Logan would be no. 5 with the defensive linemen we play,” Mendenhall said.
— Notre Dame transfer Chris Badger began practicing with the team Monday and has appealed the NCAA to play immediately.
— Defensive back Sam Lee was expected to be ready around this time — having battled through back injuries — but is now expected to miss the season, according to Mendenhall.