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September 6, 2013

Ultimate Preview - UT vs. BYU

TEXAS VS. BYU
The Opponent
Who: Brigham Young Cougars
Location: Provo, Utah
Colors: BYU tan, BYU blue
Series Record: BYU leads 2-1

Record: 0-1
National Ranking: AP - NR; Coaches Poll - NR

Head Coach: Bronco Mendenhall
Record at BYU: 74-30 (7th year)
Total Record: 74-30


The Game
When: Sept. 7, 2012, 6:00 p.m. CDT
Where: Provo, UT
Venue: LaVell Edwards Stadium

TV: ESPN2
Radio: Longhorn Sports Network Radio (affiliates)

Vegas Line: Texas -7

The Numbers

2: David Ash had 343 passing yards and 91 rushing yards vs NMSU, marking only the second time in UT history that a player passed for 300-plus yards and rushed for 90 or more in the same game. Colt McCoy had 304 passing yards and 175 rushing vs. Texas A&M in 2009.

4 : RB Jalen Overstreet's 92 rushing yards were the fourth-most by a freshman during his debut in school history. Jamaal Charles had a school-record 135 vs. Louisiana Lafayette in 2005.

715: The Longhorns 715 yards of total offense was a school record and the most against an FBS opponent during the opening weekend of the season.

The Quote

"You're so impressed with their defense. They play so hard, they're very well coached, they have 100 percent effort, they have three or four senior pro prospects that are on defense, and I think (LB) Kyle Van Noy is as good a player as there is in the country." 

- Mack Brown

Quarterback inconsistency has been among the leading causes of disappointment for the Texas football program over the last three years. After their 2013 opener, the Longhorns have reason to believe they've put those issues behind them.

David Ash and the 15th-ranked Longhorns look to build on a strong season debut as they visit BYU on Saturday night.

Texas went 45-8 from 2006-09 behind the leadership of star quarterback Colt McCoy, but hasn't found the same success since losing the national championship game to Alabama after the 2009 season. The Longhorns went 22-16 over the last three seasons, plagued by erratic play from their signal-callers as the team ranked in the bottom half of the Big 12 in passing offense each year.

Ash was the primary quarterback in 2012, but coach Mack Brown called his team's passing game "inept" after a loss to TCU in November and would start Case McCoy - Colt's brother - over a banged-up Ash in the next game. Brown wouldn't say whether Ash would start that game if he weren't hampered by injury, and hedged when asked if he considered Ash the team's quarterback of the future.

One game into 2013, Brown's decision to stick with Ash looks like a wise one. The junior completed 20 of 28 passes for 343 yards with a career high-tying four touchdowns, and he ran for a career-best 91 yards and another score as the Longhorns routed New Mexico State 56-7 last Saturday.

It wasn't a smooth performance throughout, however. Texas trailed 7-0 late in the second quarter, far from a convincing start for a team hoping to live up to lofty expectations after many years of falling short.

"The guys are older now. We've been in that situation ... and we've failed before," Ash said. "So much of football is about morale and believing."

Ash played a role in the Longhorns' early struggles, throwing two first-half interceptions before sparking the rally with touchdown passes of 54 and 66 yards in the last two minutes of the second quarter.

"We ended up blowing them out and it wasn't easy in the first half," said Brown, whose team racked up a school-record 715 yards of total offense. "We had to fight. I thought (Ash) really kept his composure well."

Brown hopes to see more of the same against a BYU team that's coming off a tough 19-16 loss to Virginia last Saturday. The game was delayed two hours and nine minutes after the first quarter due to lightning, and the teams played the second half in a downpour, with the Cougars giving up the winning touchdown with 2:36 left.

"Very difficult loss for our team under really unique circumstances," coach Bronco Mendenhall said.

The Cougars, who haven't had a losing season since Mendenhall took over the program in 2005, have dropped six straight games against Top 25 opponents since a bowl win over then-No. 16 Oregon State in 2009. During that skid, one loss was by three points and three were by a single point.

Mendenhall knows snapping that streak Saturday will be a challenge.

"The (BYU) players are competitive," Mendenhall said after last week's defeat. "We all are and there's a ton of work that goes into every game. Certainly no one is more disappointed than I am, and the team is hurt right now. It's a great chance to discover who we are going to be and how we are going to be going forward. We have another significant test coming up, so there is a sense of urgency."

While the Cougars' defense was fairly stout last weekend, forcing 13 punts and two turnovers while yielding only 223 total yards in the rain, Brown expects an even better performance against his Longhorns this week.

"The team that played Virginia Saturday night is not the one we'll see," he said.

Then-No. 24 Texas scraped out a 17-16 win over BYU in Austin in the teams' last meeting Sept. 10, 2011. The Cougars scored the first 13 points before the Longhorns rallied, taking the lead with 8:46 left and holding on. Four different Longhorns completed passes, with Ash, then a freshman playing in his second career game, going 2 for 3 for 35 yards. It was Texas' first win in three all-time meetings with BYU.

Texas has won 11 straight non-conference road games since a 27-24 loss at Stanford on Sept. 16, 2000. (AP)

NOTES, QUOTES

• RB Daje Johnson was the star of the season opener, even with comparatively few touches. He rushed for 62 yards on six carries and had 67 yards on three receptions. This is the kind of effort the team is hoping to see from him every week, but the BYU defense presents a tougher challenge.

• DE Cedric Reed had a big game against New Mexico State, with his seven tackles matching a career high. The junior has an increased role on the line this season, and so far looks like he'll help solidify what was a team weakness a year ago.

THREE COUGARS TO WATCH

LB Kyle Van Noy - 2013 All-America candidate Kyle Van Noy had 13 sacks last season good for No. 2 in the country. If Van Noy, the NCAA D-1 career active sacks leader with 22, records 13 sacks this year, he will tie the career sack record at BYU (35)

WR Cody Hoffman - Hoffman leads all active FBS receivers in career receiving touchdowns with 28. He also ranks third among active receivers in career receptions (203) and fourth in active
career receiving yards (2,718). Hoffman was a late scratch last week due to a hamstring issue.

RB Jamaal Williams - A 2013 Doak Walker Award candidate, Williams went for 144 yards on the ground last week on 33 carries. Only a sophomore, Williams set BYU's true freshman rushing records with 755 yards and 12 TDs.

KEYS TO THE GAME

1. Protect the ball - The Longhorns suffered a shocking three first-half turnovers against New Mexico State, and all three of them probably took points off the board. In what should be a pretty close game, Texas cannot afford those types of miscues against BYU.

2. Road Warriors - Texas has never had issues with playing in hostile environments, and the team will need to continue that trend on Saturday night. The BYU crowd will be fired up, the Longhorns will have to deal with altitude and the BYU team should be ready to run through walls with the fear of starting the season 0-2. Texas needs to match that intensity.

3. Start quicker - If you take away the turnovers in the first half of BYU, that game starts out a lot differently. Regardless, Texas has to play better in the first part of the game than it did last week or it will give BYU momentum at home and the Longhorns will probably be playing from behind. If Texas can pounce on BYU early and neutralize the crowd, the Longhorns should fare well.

 

BYU VS. TEXAS MATCHUP BREAKDOWN
BYU PASS OFFENSE VS. TEXAS PASS DEFENSE
EDGE:

Texas

BYU QB Taysom Hill really struggled last week, completing just 13-of-40 attempts for 175 yards (1 TD and 1 INT). Hill didn't record any rushing yards last week, but he's capable of making plays with his legs (143 rush yards vs. Hawaii last year). The strength of BYU's passing game rests largely on the availability of pre-season all-American WR Cody Hoffman. He was out last week but is expected to return for this week's game.

The Texas secondary got off to a pretty good start last week. It kept New Mexico State's passing game in check and was solid with its tackling for the most part. Josh Turner will return to action this week to give the secondary more depth. The entire defense will have to be ready for BYU's tempo and get lined up quickly.
BYU RUN OFFENSE VS. TEXAS RUN DEFENSE
EDGE:

Texas

BYU will spread the ball around, but Bronco Mendenhall isn't shy about admitting that he wants to be a team that can impose its will on the ground. The Cougars ran the ball 53 times last week, due in part to the weather. Sophomore tailback Jamaal Williams is a capable runner who already has several big games under his belt.

Texas was good against NMSU, limiting the Aggies to just 104 rushing yards on the night. A big chunk of the credit goes to the guys on the d-line, but the entire defense was active and aside from a couple expected mistakes, the defense tackled pretty well. Texas could use more big-play pop from its linebackers and Peter Jinkens needs to bounce back from a slow first game.
BYU OFFENSIVE LINE VS. TEXAS DEFENSIVE LINE
EDGE:

Texas

This year's five starting offensive linemen started a combined total of 21 games before this season. Three of those players (Terrance Alletto, Brock Stringham and Michael Yeck) got their first career starts against Virginia. UVA was able to notch three sacks in the opener.

The Texas defensive line was probably the strength of the defense in the season-opener, which came as a bit of a surprise. Cedric Reed was dominant off the edge, Jackson Jeffcoat was very good and the defensive tackle duo or Malcom Brown and Chris Whaley was very active as well. The task gets tougher this week, but the d-line was very good overall last week.
BYU PASS DEFENSE VS. TEXAS PASS OFFENSE
EDGE:

Texas

David Ash started off somewhat slowly last week with two first-half interceptions, but he turned it on just prior to halftime and finished the game with 343 passing yards. The one thing Ash didn't have to do was push the ball downfield, and that will likely change this week. Mike Davis had a solid game but did have a couple miscues. Jaxon Shipley still isn't 100 percent, but he too was effective.

BYU fielded a top-10 pass defense last year and it returns some experience, so it should be a terrific test for a Texas passing game with plenty of weapons. The group did suffer a big loss in the pre-season when starting CB Jordan Johnson was lost to injury. BYU limited Virginia to just 114 yards passing last week.
BYU RUN DEFENSE VS. TEXAS RUN OFFENSE
EDGE:

Texas

Texas broke out a five-headed attack at running back last week, with Johnathan Gray, Malcolm Brown, Joe Bergeron, Daje Johnson and Jalen Overstreet all getting work. And each guy did some good things. Texas could still use more explosiveness from Gray and the first-team offense needs to show that it can run better between the tackles, but the backs did very well in week one.

BYU fields a trio of very good linebackers. Weakside LB Kyle Van Noy is one of the nation's best players. He's athletic, he flies to the football and he's a guy that's really hard to lock onto when blocking. Middle linebacker Uani 'Unga sometimes gets overlooked but he led the team with 10 tackles last week. Spencer Hadley is very good at the other OLB spot, and he rocks a nice 80s mustache so he gets bonus points.
BYU DEFENSIVE LINE VS. TEXAS OFFENSIVE LINE
EDGE:

Texas

It was a bit of a mixed bag for the UT OL in the first game. The pass protection was solid. Texas ran for 359 yards and more than eight yards per carry. But the first-team OL didn't seem to dominate the line of scrimmage like most thought it would. Donald Hawkins and Trey Hopkins were very good on the left side. Keep an eye out for Desmond Harrison, who should get more work this week.

BYU runs a 3-4, and defensive tackle Eathyn Manumaleuna was the co-leader in tackles in the team's season opener with 10 stops ( team-high 6 solos). That's almost unheard of. An Outland Trophy candidate, Manumaleuna missed most of last year with a knee injury. He's made starts both at DT and DE, so he has some athleticism to go with his size (6-2, 305). BYU fields a couple huge starting DEs. Left end Bronson Kaufusi goes 6-7 and 282 and right end Remington Peck goes 6-4 and 250.
BYU SPECIAL TEAMS VS. TEXAS SPECIAL TEAMS
EDGE:
Texas

Texas nearly blocked a punt in its opener and Anthony Fera got off one incredible punt. Texas was average in its limited attempts in the return game and the kick coverage could be improved. Call it an incomplete grade for the special teams after week one.

BYU is pretty average in special teams all around, but it is having to replace standout punter Riley Stephenson. The punters struggled last week but weather probably factored into that. Justin Sorensen hit his only field goal last week but he was just 6-of-12 last year with a long of 33 yards.

-- Suchomel


BYU VS. TEXAS PREDICTIONS
Ketchum Brown Suchomel McComas Gaspar Quarter

TEXAS
1-0

TEXAS
1-0
TEXAS
1-0
TEXAS
1-0
TEXAS
1-0
BYU
0-1




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