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What you need to know about BYU vs. Texas

In game two of the young football season, the 15th ranked Texas Longhorns will pay a visit to Lavell Edwards Stadium. BYU has revenge and upset, on their minds while Texas looks to improve their resume for a national championship push. Here you can see the history, the match-ups and the keys to the game.

Ross Apo celebrates a touchdown against the Longhorns
Ross Apo celebrates a touchdown against the Longhorns
Erich Schlegel

The History

BYU leads the series 2-1.  The Cougars beat the Longhorns in Austin in 1987, in Provo in 1988 and lost in Austin in 2011.

Austin, TX 1987 (1-0)

In the first meeting between the schools the Cougars traveled to Texas.  The starting quarterback was Bob Jensen and he started off with two early interceptions, one of which led to a Longhorns touchdown.

Things turned around in the second quarter after the defense forced a couple of fumbles and Jensen threw touchdown passes to David Miles and Chuck Culter, giving BYU a lead 14-7.  With less than 2 minutes left in the half the Longhorns drove the field and connected on a field goal as time expired making the half time score 14-10.

In the third quarter the specials teams blocked a punt that was recovered in the end zone for a safety and the lead went up to 16-10.  With 4 turnovers and 5 takeaways for the game, the cougars were able to add two field goals to lead 22-10 going into the fourth quarter.

The only scoring of the fourth quarter took place when Texas scored on a 3 yard rush with just over a minute left in the game.  The on-side kick attempt was recovered by BYU and the game was over.

Provo, UT 1988 (2-0)

In the next meeting, the Longhorns came in ranked 19th and were looking for some payback.  In this case, the Cougars did not oblige.  The Cougars started off the scoring this time with an 89 yard touchdown pass from Sean Covey to Bryce Doman.  They quickly added an Earl Kauffman field goal to take a 10-0 lead.  Texas finished the scoring of the quarter by converting a field goal.

BYU came out strong in the second quarter as they scored 10 straight points off a 52 yard pass from Covey to Chuck Culter and a 51 yard field goal from Kauffman.  Texas hit another field goal to make the score 20-6 at the half.

The offenses fell stagnant in the third quarter as the only scoring came when Rodney Rice grabbed an interception and ran it back 70 yards for a Cougar touchdown.

Fireworks then took place in the fourth quarter as the cougars scored 21 straight points with a Fred Whittingham 20 yard rush, a 20 yard pass from Ty Detmer to Cutler and then an Eric Mortensen 17 yard run.  With a missed extra point on the Mortensen score, the Cougars ended up winning 47-6.  Covey finished the game 14-38 with 2 touchdowns, an interception, and 323 yards.

Austin, TX 2011 (2-1)

In 2011, BYU made another trip back to Texas in the first of the current three game series.  Texas was ranked 21st at the time.  The Cougars led early with two Justin Sorensen field goals, one from 30 yards and the other from 33.  With 11:41 left in the second quarter, Ross Apo caught a 6 yard touchdown pass from Jake Heaps to increase the lead to 13-0.  With less than two minutes to go before halftime the Longhorns drove down and kicked a 23 yard field goal to get on the board.

The Texas offense started to pick up in the second half and finished off their first drive with a 1 yard touchdown rush by Cody Johnson.  The Cougars managed another field goal later in the quarter but that would finish their scoring.

With 8:46 left in the game, Johnson punched in the final score of the game on a 4 yard rush.  The Cougars had two more opportunities to score, but one ended in a punt and the other in an interception.  Jake Heaps ended with a QB efficiency of 98.49 and the Cougars could only muster 43 total yards on the ground. Final score: 16-17 to the Longhorns.

The Outlook

Many fans have already written off this game as a loss.  It is hard to argue the point if we base everything off of the performance of both teams on their opening week.  However, we do have to remember and emphasis that it was Opening Week!  With exception to the defense, it didn't appear that anything went right for the Cougars at Virginia.  On the flip side, not much went wrong for the Longhorns.  Do the Cougars have any hope?  Let's take a look and see.

The Positives

I could sum this up in one word. Defense!

I could, but I won't.   Believe it or not, there were other silver linings around those Virginia rainclouds.  Jamaal Williams, even with the pass that slipped through his fingers, was a bright spot on Saturday.  He was able to rush while there was no rush blocking.  If you made a list of offensive highlight plays, Jamaal would have the majority of them.  Remember the hurdle?  Or the play he ran into the pile, slipped back out and around the edge?  We also saw the 92 yard drive that brought us to our feet.

There was potential there. Now we need to see the potential turn into results.  I can't go through the positives without giving kudos to the whole defense.  Who knew the secondary would play as well as they did?  And of course, the linebackers continued to be studs.

The Negatives

The biggest question marks going into the season were the secondary and the offensive line.  The secondary held up their end, while the offensive line fell flat.  With no pass blocking and no run blocking, the running backs were hung out to dry and Hill was given no time.  After week one, the offensive line is already having to re-earn their jobs.  The inexperience at running back showed at times.  It almost looked as if Paul Lasike and Adam Hines were lost in the blocking schemes.  At times it almost looked as if they were telegraphing plays.  Hopefully this will be rectified as they become accustomed to the offense.  Penalties also doomed the Cougars.  Two in particular were devastating as Uani ‘Unga and Daniel Sorensen, both captains, ended up costing the team points or field position.

The Match-ups

BYU Offensive line vs. Texas Defensive line

One of the most interesting match-ups on Saturday will be the newly anointed Cougar offensive line versus the Longhorn defensive line.  The Texas defense gave up 346 yards of offense to New Mexico State.  The defensive line is a talented group and they seem to have speed that could cause havoc with the Cougars front line.  The defense didn't seem too physical but if you can get around someone, why bother trying to go through them.  If the Cougars can be physical up front, and guard the edges, it could be just enough to spark the offense.

Cougar Defense vs. Quarterback

Another match-up to watch for is how the Cougar defense puts pressure on David Ash.  The hope is that he can be rattled.  When he is poised, he is on target and that showed in the second half.  The defense must put pressure on him in order to slow down what could be a juggernaut on offense.

BYU Receivers vs. Texas Secondary

The final match-up is the BYU receivers versus the Texas secondary.  Texas has speed and talent in the secondary but like the defensive line, they don't seem to be overly physical.

The Cougars should have the size advantage with Cody Hoffman (if cleared), Ross Apo, and Mitch Mathews.  They need to take advantage of the size and not rely strictly on separation.  Based on the Virginia game, separation might be a bit difficult.  The size could be crucial in the red zone if the receivers can go up after a jump ball.  It appears that Texas will play quite a bit of man-on-man and so Hill and company need to make use of any advantages available.

The Keys to Watch

Now that we have a week of football behind us, we are left to wonder if BYU has more questions or if what we are seeing is the best it gets.  This should be an entertaining game due to the play makers from both teams.

When the Cougars have control, watch for the offense to throw in a few screen plays.  If the receivers can get into a one-on-one match-up, the Cougars have the players that can make the defense miss.  Due to the speed and athleticism of the Texas defense, the long ball may not be effective and time will be limited for Hill.  Paramount to the passing game is establishing the run early.  Expect the offense to run early and often.  If successful, the time it will buy Hill will be invaluable.  Most importantly, the offense needs to keep the ball in the hands of Hoffman, Apo, Williams, and JD Falslev if the Cougars are going to have success.

When the Longhorns have control, watch for the ball to find Daje Johnson and the strong group of receivers. Against NMSU Johnson had 3 receptions for 67 yards and a touchdown to go along with 6 rushes for 62 yards and a touchdown.  Ash will pick apart a secondary, if given time, especially one as green as the Cougars.  The goal of the front seven should be to make Ash rush his throws.  The secondary needs to keep everything in front of them.  They should not be trying to catch up to the receivers.  We should also hear the name Kyle Van Noy used over and over as he creates plays for himself and his teammates.  If the defensive players win their individual battles, this could be the week that Bronson Kaufusi steps onto the national stage.

Interesting Tidbit

1)  In 1999 Mack Brown helped organize a blood drive on the Texas campus for victims of the Texas A&M bonfire accident.  More than 250 donors showed up to participate.

2)  Brown has had at least one NFL draft pick from his team in each of the last 28 drafts.

Next Meeting

BYU will travel to Austin, TX on 9/6/2014 to play the final game of the current series.

The Broadcasting Details

Time: 5:00 pm MDT

Where: Lavell Edwards Stadium-Provo, Utah


Internet: WatchESPN

Radio(BYU): KSL 1160 AM/102.7 FM, BYU Radio-Sirius XM 143

Listen Live via Internet(KSL): Click Here

Radio Links (Texas): Click Here