Taysom Hill

Photo Credit: Ethan Oblak | Daily Texan Staff

Fans watching Saturday’s game might have thought they were seeing a replay of last year’s contest against BYU, as the Cougars trounced Texas for the second consecutive year, picking the Longhorns apart to the tune of a 41 - 7 blowout victory at Darrel K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.

BYU junior quarterback Taysom Hill picked up right where he left off last season, rushing for 99 yards and 3 touchdowns, while also throwing for 181 yards in the contest.

“It’s an embarrassment to this program, it’s an embarrassment to this university,” head coach Charlie Strong said in a fiery post game press conference. “I knew during warmup we weren’t ready to play. I said ‘we’re going to get embarrassed if we don’t watch out’ and that’s what happened.”

The Texas defense kept it close in the first half, as the Longhorns went into half-time trailing just 6-0. But with the offense struggling to sustain any production, the defense spent the majority of the game on the field and ran out of steam in the second half.

BYU scored on each of its four drives in the third quarter, with Hill running it in three times and junior running back Adam Hine plunging into the end zone for a fourth score.

“When you give up 28 points in one quarter, you aren’t ready to play, Coach [Strong] is right about that,” defensive coordinator Vance Bedford said.

Just as he did a year ago, Hill ran the read option to perfection Saturday night. He had several clutch carries for first downs, but his biggest play of the night came on a 30-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, when he leaped over walk-on safety Dylan Haines en route to the endzone.

“He reminds me a little bit of Tim Tebow,” Bedford said. “He’s strong, he has a good arm and if you sit back there and you don’t get him down, he’s going to come through there and make some plays, which he did tonight.”

Sophomore quarterback Tyrone Swoopes played decently in his first career start at Texas, throwing for 176 yards, one touchdown and an interception. He completed each of his first eight passes, but quarterbacks coach and play caller Shawn Watson was reluctant to let Swoopes loose in the first half, choosing to run the ball the majority of the time instead.

“I think Coach Watson was just giving me something I could handle for my first start, knowing that I would be a little nervous and antsy,” Swoopes said.

The young gunslinger noted that he did feel some butterflies early on in the contest, but quickly settled into the starting role.

 “The first couple plays I was nervous,” Swoopes said. “Then I got banged up a little bit, hit a couple times, and after that I was fine.”

 

Check out more photos from the game in the slideshow below - 

STOP TAYSOM HILL

In 2013, BYU quarterback Taysom Hill gashed the Longhorn defense for 259 rushing yards and cost former Texas defensive coordinator Manny Diaz his job. 

The Texas front seven from that game remains largely intact, but now it has a proven defensive coordinator in Vance Bedford. Senior defensive end Cedric Reed showed last Saturday that he can fight off double-teams and chase down running backs, but he will need an extra dose of discipline to contain the quarterback keeper. 

Against North Texas, Bedford had no problem sliding senior cornerback Quandre Diggs to nickel for run support, and the senior’s most important role Saturday may be slowing down the run rather than stopping the pass.

If the Longhorns let Hill run on them, the junior will be able to hide his biggest weakness — throwing the ball. He completed just 53.9 percent of his passes last season and was a mere nine-for-26 against the Longhorns. 

RUN THE BALL

This was going to be important regardless of who was under center for the Longhorns. BYU will try to run the ball and control the clock like it did last year, and a successful Texas ground attack can prevent that from happening. 

Now that Tyrone Swoopes has been announced as the starting quarterback, the running game is exponentially more important. 

Based off last year’s performances, Swoopes does not look ready to lead Texas to victory on his own. The sophomore looked skittish at times and threw some frighteningly inaccurate balls. 

The tandem of junior Johnathan Gray and senior Malcolm Brown needs a big game in order to ease the pressure on Swoopes, give the offense the opportunity to run play-action and prevent BYU from blitzing the house to rush the young quarterback into mistakes. 

CONTROL THE LINE OF SCRIMMAGE

Texas’ defense dominated the line of scrimmage last week, despite facing an offensive line that was supposed to be the strength of the Mean Green offense.

BYU’s spread-option attack makes that achievement much harder to replicate, as an overly aggressive defensive line will open up running lanes for Hill. But if the Longhorns cannot get into the backfield, the Cougars will happily let junior running back Jamaal Williams carry the load.

The real battle for the line of scrimmage will take place when Texas is on offense. If the Longhorn offensive line cannot get a push, it is almost impossible to envision Texas winning. 

David Ash’s absence places the burden on an offensive line that just lost three potential starters in Dominic Espinosa, Kennedy Estelle, and Desmond Harrison, to pave the way for Gray and Brown and take the focus away from Swoopes.

Texas’ pass blocking was solid, but not phenomenal, against UNT. If the offensive line cannot help Swoopes out, BYU could easily upset Texas for the second straight year. 

Before Brigham Young quarterback Taysom Hill steps on the field each week, he prepares himself mentally. Imagining his ideal outcome for each game, Hill sets goals that generally fade away alongside the minutes on the clock—until last year’s BYU-Texas matchup, when Hill’s 259 rushing yards helped notch a program-record 550 total rushing yards in the Cougars’ 40-21 victory. That game went just as Hill
had hoped.

“Honestly, that’s what I imagined—being able to pull reads and break into open field—so that was surreal,” Hill said. “It was like I could see a childhood dream come true. Everyone wants to play a team like Texas with a reputation, ranked number 15 at the time. You imagine it and talk about it as you grow up.”

Though he’d spent plenty of time imagining a dominant win against Texas, Hill says he didn’t expect it going into the match last year. Ironically, it was during the first of just two drives that put Texas in the lead during the game, when Hill realized his team would win. He said their production and fun fit just one appropriate description: the Brigham Young Cougars were in the zone.

“Our mindset is we can compete with anyone in the country, which can be said for pretty much any D-I school out there,” Hill said. “You have the talent. So if you have the preparation, you can compete.”

Hill did more than just compete against the Longhorns last year when he recorded 259 rushing yards, averaging 15.2 yards per carry. But his performance last year isn’t enough in the eyes of Cougar fans, who know the stakes of this year’s game. Texas views the game as a time for revenge, hungry to redeem themselves after last year’s embarrassment. The Cougars take the match seriously for another reason: it’s their best chance at national recognition this season. As an independent school, BYU only scheduled two top-tier opponents in 2014: Texas and Virginia. To combat the lighter schedule, Hill said, the Cougars feel increased pressure to win every game. Their goal for Saturday: score at least 12 points each half.

“Going on the road and playing in a stadium as big [as Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium], there’s definitely an advantage for the home team,” Hill said. “That being said, our mindset has not changed. We expect to go into the game cool and calm, go in and move
the ball.”

To accomplish that, Hill has spent the offseason studying his playmakers to better understand what his key players do and how to put them in positions to succeed. A better understanding of his teammates paid off against Connecticut last week, when Hill completed more than 77 percent of his passes for 308 yards and three touchdowns. That passing performance doesn’t resemble the storied game against Texas whatsoever. Throwing 10 fewer passes in 2013 with a completion rate below 35 percent, Hill didn’t pose the passing threat then that he does now. His ability to run and pass at an elite level only widens the gap between he and Texas sophomore Tyrone Swoopes , who will be making his first career start in place of the injured David Ash
this week. 

While facing an inexperienced quarterback may alleviate some of the pressure, Hill says the pressure from media and fans is much higher this year.

“Last year gave the team and me a lot of national exposure and attention,” Hill said. “Now we have to manage expectations of people around campus.”

Hill doesn’t mind the expectations, saying no one has higher expectations than he holds for himself. But he feels what he calls a “buzz on campus,” as professors express their support and classmates shake his hand, wishing him good luck against the Longhorns. 

“My big mindset going into the game is one play at a time,” Hill said. “It doesn’t do us a lot of good to dwell on negative things and get a snowball negative effect. We just need to go win the
next play.”

92-25-4: Texas’ record in its second game of the season, a win percentage of 76 percent. Texas is 79-18-4 in its second game of the season after winning its first, a win percentage of 78 percent.

1-2: Texas coaches tend to lose two games early in their first seasons coaching the Longhorns. Texas’ past three head coaches started off 1-2.

1-3: Texas’ all-time record against BYU. Texas’ fourth year players are 1-1 against the Cougars in their careers, with a 17-16 win in 2011 being the lone victory.

10: In Texas’ two contests against the Cougars over the past three years, BYU is a perfect 10 for 10 in the red zone, scoring three touchdowns and seven field goals. Texas only scored in four of six trips to the red zone over this span.

31-15: The average score of the previous four contests between BYU and Texas, in favor of BYU. Without the 47-6 rout from 1988, 26-18 is the average score of the series, dating back to 1987. Texas has never scored more than 21 points against the Cougars, while BYU only failed to hit that mark once, in 2011.

550: Texas surrendered 550 rushing yards to BYU last season, including 271 yards after contact. The 550 rushing yards allowed by the Longhorns was a school record and broke the previous record of 452 yards allowed against Rice in 1997, by nearly 100 yards.

259: Last season, BYU junior quarterback Taysom Hill ran for 259 yards against Texas — pretty incredible, considering BYU had only ran for a combined 201 yards against the Longhorns in the first three meetings between the two schools. Hill fell eight yards short of Vince Young’s best rushing game, which was the 2005 come-from-behind victory over Oklahoma State.

9 of 26: Hill’s rushing total is what is remembered from the 2013 game, but people tend to forget how poor of a day he had throwing the ball. He completed just over a third of his passes for 129 yards and an interception. Since that time, Hill has improved as a passer and posted his highest passer rating as a starter in last week’s 35-10 win over UConn.

94: The Longhorns surrendered 94 yards of total offense in head coach Charlie Strong’s first game at the helm. That’s one yard less than the fewest a Mack Brown-coached Texas squad surrendered in a season opener — 95 yards in 2006 against North Texas.

68: In last week’s win over North Texas, the Longhorns intercepted four passes, returning them for a total of 68 yards and a touchdown. They only surrendered 15 yards through the air, and the Mean Green quarterbacks completed fewer passes — three — than they threw interceptions — four.

3: Over the course of his career, redshirt senior wide receiver John Harris has accounted for five touchdowns — one passing and four receiving. After last week’s touchdown, three of his career touchdowns have come in Texas season openers — one passing and two receiving.

4: Four Longhorns — redshirt sophomore safeties Adrian Colbert and Dylan Haines and redshirt senior linebackers Demarco Cobbs and Jordan Hicks — picked off a pass for the first time in their careers against North Texas.

Photo Credit: Joe Capraro | Daily Texan Staff

“Missed tackle,” “blown assignment,” “another missed tackle” and “touchdown Brigham Young.” For those who suffered through Texas’ loss at BYU this past weekend, the firing of defensive coordinator Manny Diaz was expected. In fact, any lesser course of action would have been a surprise. Never before did a Longhorn defense look as overwhelmed as it did Saturday, providing one of the most embarrassing moments in program history. As a final salute to Diaz, here is a statistical look at just how bad things got in Provo, Utah, on Saturday.

While BYU quarterback Taysom Hill is clearly talented, he’s no Vince Young. Yet, Hill’s 259 rushing yards left him just eight yards shy of Young’s FBS record of 267 yards, accomplished in 2005. The unofficial stat was 24 missed tackles by the Longhorn defense. And it’s not as if Hill’s arm opened things up for the run game. Hill’s 34.6 completion percentage (9 for 26) was unimpressive, resulting in only 129 yards through the air. That’s right, the quarterback logged twice as many yards on the ground as he did through the air.

Hill wasn’t the only Cougar to prey on the Longhorn run defense. BYU running back Jamaal Williams played his part, too, gashing Texas for 183 yards on 30 carries. While his 6.1 yards-per-carry average pales in comparison to Hill’s 15.2-yard average, both are well above the FBS average.

BYU’s run game was stellar from start to finish, but the first half was particularly notable. By halftime, Texas had already surrendered 349 rushing yards, the most ever in a single half during the Mack Brown era. The Longhorns also scored three of their four touchdowns in the first 30 minutes.

Unfortunately for Brown, the Cougars didn’t let up. By the time the third quarter was over, BYU had already broken the record for most rush yards against a Texas defense, formerly held by Rice which torched Texas for 452 rushing yards back in 1997. When it was all said and done, the Cougars shattered the record, posting a total of 550 yards on 72 carries for a team average of 7.6 yards per carry. That was more than double the
Longhorns YPC mark of 3.4 in the game. 

Texas didn’t just lose its first non-conference road game since 2000 — it got stomped. With the talent, facilities and payroll dedicated to this program, Brown and Diaz have no excuse for this kind of performance. Greg Robinson is here to save the day, but for this defense, it may be too late.