The BYU defense provided a bright spot in the Cougars disappointing loss to Virginia last Saturday picking up right where they left off a season ago and only allowing the Wahoos 223-yards of total offense. This week, Bronco Mendenhall's defense will be tested as they face a bigger challenge against the Texas Longhorns and their dynamic playmaker, Daje Johnson.
The 5'10" 184-pound sophomore stole the show last Saturday versus New Mexico State carrying the ball six times for 62 yards and a touchdown on the ground while also adding three receptions for 67 yards and a touchdown through the air.
Johnson was the only player in the FBS to have over 50 yards in both the rushing and receiving categories in Week 1. That Week 1 performance included two big-plays for scores - the aforementioned impressive 67-yard receiving touchdown (0:20 in the following video) and 24-yard rushing touchdown (0:39).
Texas Highlights vs New Mexico State (Scores & Big Plays) (via godzillatron24)
An x-factor of sorts in Major Applewhite's offense, Johnson's combination of blazing speed and great vision make him a big-play threat every time he touches the ball.
Texas' Daje Johnson said he's run a 4.28 hand-timed 40, a 4.32 laser-timed 40. Funny. He seems even faster than that. #statesman— kbohls (@kbohls) September 2, 2013
Speed has been an Achilles' heel for the Cougars in the past and Johnson isn't the only guy on the Texas roster who has a lot of it. The Longhorns' speed will test BYU's stellar defense, but it's Johnson's versatility that could give the Cougars nightmares.
Johnson, is essentially Austin's version of De'Anthony Thomas - an elite level athlete who can make plays all over the field.
Johnson is not the guy that will get the workhorse load for the Longhorns. In fact, Johnson only had 50 touches in 12 games as a freshman. It's what he did with those touches that should concern BYU. Johnson totaled 573 yards with those limited touches giving him an average of over 11 yards per play. After Week 1, Johnson is already averaging over 14 yards per play this season.
The key for stopping Johnson this week may actually come from the offensive side of the ball. The "Go Fast, Go Hard" system led to quite a few drives that stalled very quickly last week and that did not give the defense any time to rest. That cannot happen this week because Texas will be pushing the tempo on offense too. If the offense cannot establish drives, the defense will wear down and that is when Johnson could really create havoc for the Cougars.
This matchup will be a challenge for BYU, but fans can hope that Kyle Van Noy and the stingy Cougar defense will once again rise to the occasion and put their team in a good position to take down the Longhorns.