Troy Verde/Total Blue Sports

BYU linebacker Butch Pau'u has been limited with a knee injury for BYU but "The Butcher" is ready to wreak havoc once again

Butch Pau’u swore up and down that he was fine and could play, and that might have been so. However, BYU’s tackling machine was still nursing a sore leg he suffered weeks ago and didn’t play in the Cougar’s contest against Southern Utah last week. The reason may have been more out of an effort to further heal than a need for his services.

It was readily apparent that BYU linebacker Butch Pauu wasn’t on the field against SUU last week. This week against Massachusetts, Pau’u claims his presence will be felt in Lavell Edwards Stadium on Saturday.

“I feel fine but the trainers wanted me to rest this past week, so we were just trying to figure out if I was going to play this week,” said Pau’u. “As of now it seems likely that I will play. I feel fine and I felt like the rest from last week really helped me a ton. Just to be able to rest a little more was big for me.”

A fierce competitor, Pau’u buried the pain of his injury in an effort to take the field. While he felt he was fine to play, meaning he could still walk, the trainers wanted to pull back the reigns in order to ensure a more complete, faster healing and not risk further aggravation. Pau’u’s talk of being able to play was more heart rather than an actual status of his health.

“I feel like I want to play even though I am hurt, but the coaches and the trainers understand that I would give my all for this team,” Pau’u said. “I realize that I have to be smart about it too though, so I listened and decided to not play in some games.”

After recording 19 tackles against UCLA, Pau’u has been relatively quiet in his return to the field. He suffered a knee injury against West Virginia and sat out for the Toledo and Michigan State games. He received some time in his return to the field against Mississippi State and Boise State but wasn’t fully healthy and it showed in his production.

“My dad was trying to figure out what was wrong with me too,” Pau’u said. “He said, ‘If you’re playing why are you not making as many plays as you were before?’”

It was a question Butch Pau’u had to think about. Pau’u did record nine total tackles against Mississippi State and Boise State, respectively, which is still really good. However, Pau’u just wasn’t exerting the same type of dominance on the field. His fiery presence and big hitting plays just weren’t as noticeable. His pondering of his performance taught him something.

“Yeah, one I think I was thinking too much, and, two, I wasn’t trusting my knee,” Pau’u said. “This past week with rehab and the insurance that my knee will be fine with all the explosive drills that we’ve been doing I think I’ve gained all my confidence back. I believe it’s 100 percent now so I won’t hold back like I think I was doing before.”

Only a sophomore, Pau’u’s potential is very high. He has natural instincts that can’t be taught, an aggressive style of play, and a very high football I.Q. He holds himself to the highest standard when it comes to his personal performance on the field, a performance he’s always checking.

“Yeah, I think about my goals all the time and I’m always evaluating myself after a game,” Pau’u said. “I grade myself after every game. Sometimes I’m like, ‘Okay I missed this assignment, really? Why would I miss this assignment?’ I know I can play a lot better than I am now. I know I can play even better than I was before when I was playing in the Arizona and UCLA games. I feel I can play a lot better, but that’s just up to me in doing my assignment.”

In order to be able to better execute his assignment, Pau’u studies a lot of film in an effort to gain an advantage. A tackling machine, Pau’u explains the process he goes through when evaluating film on an opponent.

“When I watch film it starts with the offensive lineman,” said Pau’u. “They’ll always give away certain pass protection or run stances. You can check the line to get certain keys and match it by checking what formations they’re lined up in to get an idea of certain plays are coming.

“Then you have to match what information you’ve gained with the tendencies of the quarterback. You know, what receivers does he like to throw to or is he a tight end kind of quarterback? Is he the kind to sit in the pocket and pass or will he pull back then run the ball? These are things you have to gather up quickly before the ball is snapped so you can have the advantage in making a play within your assignment. There are a lot of things that go through my mind when I’m watching film.”

Next up for BYU’s tackling machine is the University of Massachusetts.

“It’s going to be a fun game and I’m glad it’s at home,” Pau’u said. “I’m expecting a lot in this game.”

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