Gameday Preview: Brigham Young University

 

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Greetings, faithful fans! Texas takes the show on the road this week for game two of the season. Another out-of-conference challenge looms in Provo, Utah. I’ve been through there before; we stopped at a Costco, and it was a surreal experience. More surreal than the usual Costco experience. Honestly, how can you not be sort of gobsmacked by a place where you can buy both a 10-carat diamond AND a casket, then grab a slice of really good pizza? That’s where our ’Horns are heading this weekend.

Before I digress too far, I want to give a shoutout to my new Twitter follower Montrel Meander, a member of UT’s incoming freshman recruiting class. He sports #88 and plays wide receiver. Glad to have you along for the ride, Mac!

Now let’s talk about the Brigham Young Cougars.

For much of my intel on other teams, I like to use Sports-Ratings.com, which recently released a preseason analysis of their top 125 teams. Texas came in at number five! BYU comes in at number 31. Looking at the AP, USA Today, and coaches’ polls, BYU is unrated. But don’t let that fool you. And don’t be fooled by their less-than-stellar performance last Saturday against the Virginia Cavaliers. That game had a delay of more than two hours, and the second half was played during monsoon conditions. Point being, the Coogs played a pretty lousy game in awful conditions last weekend, and lost in the last minutes. Don’t be lulled into a sense of complacency.

BYU employs the up-tempo offense, just like Texas and so many other teams. (By the way, all the cool kids are calling it the “tempo” offense, so I’ll do the same, because I really want to sit with them at lunch.) Quarterback Taysom Hill had a pretty dismal showing last week, completing only 13 of 40 pass attempts, with one touchdown and one fateful interception. Their entire receiving corps is back. The defense is more of a question mark. Last year, BYU’s rush defense was solid, but only a handful of starters return. How will they hold up against the ‘Horns? Look for Kyle Van Noy to make a big statement: he was the leading defensive player in 2012, with 53 tackles, 22 tackles for loss, 13 sacks, two interceptions, and six forced fumbles. Ouch.

Look, it was like two different Texas teams showed up to the New Mexico State game last week. There was a crap half, then an inspiring half. Which offense will show up? Ash racked up historic numbers, but that slow start out of the gate will not fly in Provo against an amped-up BYU team with something to prove. Sometimes playing on the road can help focus a team on the task at hand. This away game could work in Texas’s favor. The team has to keep its collective head in the game—or else.

Daje Johnson, Mike Davis, and Jaxon Shipley get the nod as starting receivers. Mama likes! Ash is in at QB. Well-known spirit animal, Johnathan Gray, starts at tailback, and Alex De La Torre continues tearing it up at the starting fullback position. Defensive starters should ring familiar as well: Jeffcoat and Hicks, Steve Edmond, Malcolm Brown, Cedric Reed, Byndom, Diggs … the list goes on and is impressive.

Here’s my prediction, Gentle Readers. I think Texas offense gets focused simply because they have to playing in a hostile environment. Ash showed his leadership abilities last season, and will be called upon again. The offense may stumble out of the gate, but I predict the powerful weapons Texas has on deck will come through and put plenty of points on the board.

More problematic, still, is the defense. As you’re aware, there is a conspiracy to keep me from seeing games on my television viewing device. So, without watching con mis propios ojos, it’s hard to know whether fundamental improvements were made. I can sort of read, so I did learn that there were some blown tackles, missed assignments, and some pass-protection failures. That just can’t continue. It looks very much like Texas will field a top-shelf offense every game, and the defense just has to step up.

It will be a nail-biter, but I think Texas pulls it out. ESPN has the over/under at 55.5. Bet wisely, children.

I’ll be waiting for you on Saturday with some tranquilized pets and a glass of wine. Until then, hook ’em!

Rebecca May, BA ’91, Life Member, is a Texas ex-pat living in Oregon while rooting for the Longhorns. An attorney by day, she blogs about college football by night as a regular contributor to gridirongirl.

 UT v. BYU 2012. Photo courtesy Texas Athletics.

 

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