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Monday, Nov. 24, 2014

Apo looking forward to another trip to Texas

By Jeff Call, Deseret News

Published: Sun, Aug. 31 5:55 p.m. MDT

 Wide receiver Ross Apo shakes hands with fans after a BYU football scrimmage at BYU's LaVell Edwards Stadium, Friday, Aug. 15, 2014.

Wide receiver Ross Apo shakes hands with fans after a BYU football scrimmage at BYU's LaVell Edwards Stadium, Friday, Aug. 15, 2014.

(Michelle Tessier, Deseret News)

PROVO — It's one of Ross Apo’s fondest memories while playing for BYU.

As a freshman, Apo caught a 6-yard touchdown pass from Jake Heaps at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium in the first half to lift the Cougars to a 13-0 lead against Texas in 2011. Legions of burnt orange-clad Longhorn fans looked on in stunned silence.

“I just remember being up on those guys and having the stadium quiet,” said Apo, now a senior, about that play. “I think there were 100,000 people and you could hear a pin drop in there.”

BYU went on to fall to Texas that night, 17-16.

“It was pretty bad,” recalled Apo, a native of Arlington, Texas, who originally committed to Texas out of high school. “We were mad because we knew we could have won the game. We kind of gave it up to them. It was a big game. Texas was ranked at the time. We could have won the game.”

The Cougars avenged that disappointing 2011 loss with a shocking 40-21 rout of the Longhorns in Provo last September.

“Last year made up for it,” Apo said, smiling. “That was fun to be a part of.”

Now, it’s Texas that has revenge on its mind as BYU visits Austin Saturday (5:30 p.m. MDT, Fox Sports S 1).

The Longhorns missed countless tackles and allowed BYU quarterback Taysom Hill to run for 259 yards at LaVell Edwards Stadium. The following day, then-head coach Mack Brown fired defensive coordinator Manny Diaz. By the end of the season, Brown was gone, too.

“I don’t see why they wouldn’t be fired up to play us,” Apo said. “A big program like that and we’re coming to their house. There’s no way they’re going to allow what happened in Provo. We’ve just got to go out and play exactly the way we played them last year.”

BYU opened the 2014 season with a resounding 35-10 win at Connecticut last Friday while Texas pounded North Texas, 38-7, Saturday in coach Charlie Strong’s debut.

The Longhorns are eagerly awaiting this rematch with BYU. After the game, Strong said the Cougars “embarrassed” his team last season.

What advice does Apo have for his teammates who haven’t played in that atmosphere at Texas before?

“I’ll tell them that the lights are bright. You’ve got to zone in and focus,” he said. “Don’t let all their music and players and outside distractions get to you and focus on the game. … I always enjoy going back to Texas. I always play better when I go back home. It will be fun.”

Against UConn, the Cougars racked up 513 yards of total offense — 308 passing and 205 rushing. Hill completed 28 of 36 passes and three touchdowns. He also ran for 97 yards and two more TDs.

“It gives us a lot of momentum going into Texas,” Hill said of his team’s performance. “Obviously, that environment will likely be a little bit different playing there. It’s a challenge that we’re excited for and we’re up for. … We obviously weren’t as clean as we wanted to be, but a lot of good things to build off.”

Another Cougar looking forward to the trip to Texas is senior tight end Devin Mahina.

Prior to the 2011 season, Mahina suffered a season-ending neck injury, which meant he couldn’t play against the Longhorns. Many relatives on his mother’s side of the family live near Austin, so he’s happy for a chance to play at Texas.

“They’ll be at the game and I’m excited to show them up again,” Mahina said. “They have love for me because I’m their cousin, but you could tell they were disappointed in the Longhorns last year. It’s a huge game this year. I hope that stadium is packed and I hope we win.”

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1. Uncle Rico
Sandy, UT,
Aug. 31, 2014

Did APO play last week? I don't recall him catching a pass...
I do remember Ross dropping a few passes last year v Texas.
Ross's opportunities may have come and gone.

2. Taysom4Heisman
Heber City, UT,
Aug. 31, 2014

I was surprised how rarely Apo got into the game last week. I have given up on the idea of him being a superstar. But I still think he is solid and deserves some time.

Having said that, Matthews, Leslie, Juergens, and Houk looked great and never seemed tired enough to really need much of a break. Still, I think Apo deserves some time.

We are so deep on offense, especially with Williams and Blackmon back this week, that I think going super fast plays to our advantage. Especially when you consider that Texas has dismissed a handful of its players. With those dismissals, and the fact that Texas simply hasn't recruited well for a while, they aren't 3-deep with 4 and 5 star players like they usually are. You could very well argue that BYU has better talent, and we have better depth, hands-down.

3. Johnny Moser
Thayne, WY,
Aug. 31, 2014

@T4H
Even as an ardent Blue fan, I would never say that BYU has 'hands-down" more talent than TX. Texas still recruits better individual players in nearly every position than does BYU. But what happens when you get 11 individuals on the field verses a team of 11 is what will make the difference on Saturday. Bronco does an excellent job of getting 11 men to pull together in most cases. I am going to be happy with 400-450 total yards in this weeks game. Still think the Cougs win this one by 11.

4. gdog3finally
West Jordan, Utah,
Sept. 1, 2014

Now is BYU's chance to go unbeaten. Criticism should come if at least 11 games aren't attained. The red sea has parted with this years schedule. It's so light. Only two games look challenging (@Texas and @UCF). Texas is rebuilding and UCF is overrated. Yet those are the Cougars toughest opponents.

6 opponents on BYU's schedule aren't even worth mentioning (very weak). But even games that some in the blue zone were pointing to for validation are not really credible. Boise State has been getting worse for three straight seasons and was dominated in week one. The old grey mare ain't what she used to be there. USU is not the same without Anderson. Chuckie Keaton is a talented player but USU has no offensive line and lacks depth all over the field. Houston and Virginia might be interesting markets (exposure thing) but both football teams are just plain awful. BYU was Virginia's only win last year. Houston just lost to UTSA by three TDs (that really happened). Houston was 8-5 last year with a very weak schedule. I mean have you looked at Houston's schedule? My oh my.

5. thebigsamoan
Richmond, VA,
Sept. 1, 2014

Hoping for a similar outcome like last year for the Cougs. If they somehow manage to come out on top again against the Horns this year, things will be looking rosy for the rest of their season for sure, and I wouldn't care if the BCS gives them any love or not. Just win and let the chips fall where they may.

Go Cougars! Go fast, go hard, and go long and far!
Good luck to the Utes and Aggies too!

Btw, sorry to see the Aggies being outclassed badly yesterday.