The pressure was there, to be sure, quicker and stronger than any defensive lineman that charged at Sete Aulai.A co-captain, the most experienced player on the highly thought of offensive line, the senior said that the first few games were a major adjustment.
Especially the second one, against UCLA, which will of course allow him a re-do as BYU heads to Las Vegas to prepare for Saturday's bowl game against the Bruins.
"Especially when I started getting all those penalties. I just looked at myself -- am I doing my job? Am I doing this right? Am I a leader?" Aulai said. "But these guys stood behind me, and that helped me that much more."
The center, once projected to be possibly the country's top snapper, recorded five penalties total during the team's only losing streak, the second and third weeks of the season at UCLA and Tulsa.
The game at the Rose Bowl was all thorns for him. Returning home, to a school he had so much to prove, plus a loyal fan base of family, he had three fouls. If his timing wasn't off, then Aulai was getting a little too aggressive for the referees' liking.
"I think Sete felt added pressure that he put on himself, because he's very competitive and very conscientious," first-year offensive line coach Mark Weber said.
But the coach blocks for his player, too.
"Those things happen, and some were good calls and some were bad," Weber said.
Aulai credits Weber for providing some sound advice, not to mention brushing up on the 300-pounder's technique.
"I'm much better than a year ago," he said.