Two years ago, Brigham Young University walked into Austin aiming to pull an upset. The Cougars were coming off a winning season and an impressive victory against Ole Miss. Texas, on the other hand, was coming off its first losing season under Mack Brown and a not-so-impressive win against Rice the prior week.
As Texas now walks into Provo, Utah with a win in mind, these teams are not the same teams as before.
Texas won this last non-conference meeting but it didn’t come easy. The Longhorns were down by 13 points at one point and it wasn’t till the second half that they decided to come back.
In the fourth quarter of the game, down by six, Texas was able to punch in a drive that resulted in a touchdown and the eventual one-point win.
Many Longhorns fans remember this game as the one that saw the Garrett Gilbert era come to an end. About midway through the game, Gilbert was booed and
replaced by the duo of Case McCoy and David Ash. Within the next month, Gilbert underwent season-ending shoulder surgery and elected to transfer from Texas.
McCoy and Ash, switching off plays, were able to lead their team to the victory, which most likely kick-started Ash’s eventual takover behind center.
This biggest change in this team is maturity. In the last contest against BYU, Texas was playing close to 20 freshmen who had little experience. The Longhorns played only two true freshmen in their season-opening win over New Mexico State last week.
“We are more mature and older,” senior wide receiver Mike Davis said. “David Ash is phenomenal, he is in control and I think he is an elite quarterback. The offensive line got better and basically our team as a whole is more mature and everyone is on the same page and everyone is all in.”
Most athletes on the Texas roster have now been playing with each other a full two seasons and some even more. The team has been through the bad and has seen the good they can do.
BYU is also a different team. The Cougars will be a lot tougher and will have an edge to them after a disappointing loss to Virginia.
“Certainly BYU has a very good football team,” defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said. “We know they’re very dangerous. They’ll be a little bit like a wounded animal. We’ll get a better version of BYU than what we saw on tape from the Virginia game.”
The Longhorns will have their work cut out for them as they travel west, but with a deep backfield and a revamped defense, they have experience on their side. That wasn’t the case when BYU visited Austin two years ago.
“We played them a few years ago,” senior guard Mason Walters said. “They’re a tough, physical team. They’re still that. It’s going to be a great, early challenge. They’re going to play sound football. You’re not just going to get the big shots, big chunks out of them. If we play sound football, no reason we can’t win.”