BYU football: Cougars have plenty of respect for No. 15 Texas, but no fear
Provo • Just before the 2010 season started, and days before BYU announced it was going to be an independent football program in 2011, BYU and Texas agreed to extend their series to three games. They tacked a home-and-home agreement onto the 2011 game, which had been set up previously.
BYU fans circled the 2013 game on their calendars, because it not only meant the mighty Longhorns were coming to LaVell Edwards Stadium, it also meant the Cougars would have a seasoned, senior quarterback. Someone by the name of Jake Heaps.
But Heaps left for Kansas and will start for the Jayhawks in Lawrence on Saturday at 5 p.m. against South Dakota at the exact same time the Cougars kick off against Texas.
Oh, what could have been.
Instead, BYU (0-1) is a solid touchdown underdog, and based on the way the Cougars played last week in a 19-16 loss to ACC also-ran Virginia, not many believe they can hang with No. 15 Texas. Not many outside the program, that is.
"No disrespect to anyone that we play Texas is a good football team, and it is too early to even talk about rankings or how good anyone is. Texas is traditionally one of the better teams, in the country," BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said. "But we are not afraid."
His thoughts were echoed by every player who appeared in the football office lobby for interviews Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
"It is going to be great playing a team like Texas," said BYU quarterback Taysom Hill. "I look forward to the challenge. I look forward to the opportunity. Any time you can play a team that is well-established in college football, it is fun. You want to see how you compare. You go and beat a program like that, and you start to get some national attention. We are going to go out and do our best."
Hill later added that he will be "comfortable and confident" against the Longhorns because they play the same odd-front defense, a 3-4 or a 3-5, that the Cougars' defense plays.
"We have been seeing that stuff since spring, and fall camp," Hill said. "I think we have a really, really good shot."
Not many Cougars could crack the Longhorns' lineup of four- and five-star recruits, but senior receiver Cody Hoffman likely could. Trouble is, Hoffman missed the Virginia game with hamstring soreness and is listed as "probable" against Texas.
Linebacker Uani Unga, who suffered a chest injury against Virginia, is listed as "possible," Mendenhall said.
Backup cornerback Mike Hague is still trying to overcome a hamstring injury and is doubtful.
Mendenhall said that junior college transfer Sam Lee, a cornerback, "is likely not going to return [to action] this season." Lee injured his back before fall camp and has been in a brace for more than a month. He will likely redshirt this year and have two years to play two beginning in 2014.
Notre Dame transfer Chris Badger, a safety, began practicing with the team on Monday and began classes on Tuesday. Mendenhall said Badger is "hopeful to get a [waiver] that might allow him to play immediately. If he doesn't, then he will just sit this year and just practice and not be able to play."
While Notre Dame released Badger, TCU refused to release Tayo Fabuluge, a lineman who was with BYU as a freshman, then transferred to TCU. Fabuluje was admitted back into BYU and started classes Tuesday, but won't join the football team until January, at the soonest.
"He has a lot of academic work to do, and that ought to be his focus," Mendenhall said.
Texas at BYU
P Saturday, 5 p.m. MT
TV • ESPN2