Provo • There was supposed to be one constant on BYU's offensive line this season: left tackle.
That's where 6-foot-6, 310-pound sophomore Ryker Mathews was returning, following up on a stellar redshirt freshman season.
But Mathews had double-hip surgery last winter, and his play in BYU's 19-16 loss at Virginia on Saturday clearly showed that the OL's only full-time returning starter has not fully recovered. Mathews sat out all of spring camp and most of fall camp in an effort to get his hips as much healing time as possible.
Asked Tuesday about his recovery, on a scale of 1 to 10, Mathews said he is at a seven or an eight, but said that can't be used as an excuse for how poorly he played in the opener.
"There is still some soreness, but for the most part, my hips feel pretty good," he said.
Mathews has lost his starting job at left tackle, offensive coordinator Robert Anae said Tuesday, noting that starting right tackle Michael Yeck will move to the left side. Theoretically, Mathews could earn the open spot at right guard, because Brock Stringham is moving to Yeck's spot at right tackle.
"We still don't know yet. Haven't heard from the trainers, what his condition is," Anae said, when asked whether Mathews' slow recovery from hip surgery led to the demotion.
For his part, Mathews spoke as if he just wasn't ready for the uptempo offensive attack.
"It is really hard to be physical and to rough people around when you are trying to gain oxygen, and when you are just trying to breathe, period," he said. "I mean, it is still no excuse. We definitely need to be more physical and throw dudes around whether it is a 15-play drive, or a three-play drive. We gotta perform the same every time, no matter what."
Offensive line coach Garett Tujague believes Mathews will be back in the starting lineup soon.
"Yeah, he is just not there yet [physically]," Tujague said. " That's an accurate assessment. But he will get there he is good, and I just think that there is a learning curve there for him. Not being here in the spring, that hurt him."
Apo appreciates Texas
Wiser and older, receiver Ross Apo says he will think twice about flashing the upside-down longhorn sign on Saturday when BYU plays host to Texas (5 p.m., ESPN2) at LaVell Edwards Stadium like he did two years ago as a freshman at Royal-Memorial Stadium in Austin.
"If we win, after the game, I will do it," said Apo, who is from Arlington, Texas. "I did it my freshman year, and bad luck came after that. So I will wait."
Texas downed BYU 17-16 in 2011.
BYU is 2-1 all-time against Texas, but just 15-19 overall against Big 12 teams. ... BYU has five players from the state of Texas: Apo, offensive lneman Manaaki Vaitai (Euless), linebacker Teu Kautai (Arlington), Yeck (Keller) and walk-on defensive back Michael Juergens (Houston). Texas has no players from Utah on its roster. ... Former BYU defensive end Ziggy Ansah is listed on the Detroit Lions' injury report for the opening weekend of the NFL as having a concussion. Teams must designate injured players as probable, questionable or doubtful for Sunday's games at 4 p.m. Friday.
Texas at BYU
O Saturday, 5 p.m.