Picking Up the Pieces

Here are five big takeaways from Texas' 41-7 loss to BYU. Some good, some bad, some flat ugly.


Tyrone Swoopes’ numbers won’t get him a helmet sticker from any of the national media, but his effort in his first start at Texas seemed to go over really well with Texas’ coaching staff.

“I saw a lot of things that we can build on,” assistant head coach for offense/QBs coach Shawn Watson said. “I’m really encouraged by what I saw in his play.”

Final numbers for Swoopes: 20-of-31 for 176 yards, one touchdown, one interception, and seven rushes for 25 yards (net gain of 7).

The Good: I really liked what Texas did with him early when it went to the hurry-up and gave Swoopes the ability to get the ball out if his hands really quickly with a plethora of short and intermediate routes.

Anyone who watched Auburn throttle Arkansas really, in my estimation, saw a blueprint for how Swoopes should be used and it seemed like Texas took notice.

The Tigers started sophomore Jeremy Johnson in the game since starter Nick Marshall was suspended for the first half. Johnson is eerily similar to Swoopes in stature (6-5, 230) and college experience (played in six games last season just like Swoopes).

He picked apart Arkansas defense with short-to-intermediate passes and also had success airing it out. Johnson opened the game by completing his first eight passes, which included touchdown throws of 49 and 18 yards.

He finished the game [half] 12-of-16 for 243 yards and two touchdowns, including a 62-yard TD pass before Marshall took over (4-of-6 for 50 yards). If you were wondering, Johnson didn’t run one time in the half.

Swoopes completed his first eight passes – 7, 10, 9, 14, 8, 13, 11, 3 – and should have been nine except that John Harris couldn’t hold on to a ball put right on the money in the second quarter.

“I say this, the young man played unbelievable,” Texas head coach Charlie Strong said. “Just had an unbelievable game. I know he may have thrown an interception there late, but for him to be a first time starter and come out and compete as well as he did, was unbelievable.”

The Bad: Was it just me or were you perplexed as to why Texas didn’t take more shots down the field? The only shot they took Swoopes air-mailed over Marcus Johnson’s head late in the second half.

Swoopes said after the game that he was even asking to take shots deep but that the coaching staff overruled him.

“Of course you want to be aggressive,” he said. “We asked for it. The coaches know what they are doing and they over-did us. That’s what we asked for.”

It was also a wonder to me why Swoopes wasn’t keeping the ball more on zone reads. It looked at times like the coaches weren’t allowing him to keep the ball in those situations given some of the reads it appeared like he should have made.

The Ugly: Really about the only issue I had with Swoopes game as he could control it was him not throwing the ball away when he was behind the line of scrimmage trying to avoid a sack.

There were a couple of times when he was able to escape pressure and get outside the pocket only to run out of bounds instead of throwing the ball pass the line of scrimmage and out of bounds to save some lost yardage.

That should come with playing time though.

All in all I too thought Swoopes looked good considering the week he endured, and the pressure he was facing. I think you’ll see Texas gradually open up the playing book to allow him to explore more options.

“We were limited to be honest with you,” Watson said. “Just because we wanted to make sure we attacked what they did. We put Ty in position where he could be successful. We’re battling some things there, as you guys all know.”


I could wax poetic about Texas’ defensive line all day long.

Seriously, where would this team be without the big guys up front?

The box score won’t tell the true story of just how good they played on Saturday.

Not when you look at Taysom Hill’s numbers anyway (24 rushes for 134 yards – a net of 99 – with three touchdowns).

Before Hill went “Taysom Football” on Texas in the second half (all three TDs came in the second half), he was struggling mightily to find creases to do that voodoo that he do so well.

Do you know how many rushing yards he had on his first 10 carries? Negative four.

And there’s no telling if that trend would have continued in the red had Texas’ defense not been on the field for 11 minutes and 11 seconds in the second quarter.

Vance Bedford’s bunch couldn’t catch a break during the second 15 minutes. They’d just forced BYU into its first three-and-out of the game only to have to hop right back on the field turf three plays later when John Harris was stripped of the ball at the UT 45.

The Longhorns bent but didn’t break on BYU’s ensuing drive, and forced a punt after three incredible plays in a row from Jordan Hicks. The Cougars ended up punting.

Texas’ defense maybe, maybe had time to unbuckle its chin strap before it had to go back on the field after the usually sure-handed Johnathan Gray coughed up the ball on the very first play of UT’s ensuing drive.

Bedford’s group, again, rose to the challenge and forced the Cougars to kick a field goal despite their starting the drive at Texas’ 23.

None of the defensive players used their being on the field for longer periods of time as an excuse though.

“That’s no excuse at all,” Hicks said.

Desmond Jackson refused to point fingers at the offense for those turnovers.

“I don’t think there was any frustration,” he said. “We just have to get our guys more prepared. They had a couple of guys that were starting for their first time. We just have to get them prepared for the next game. I’m not mad at them, can’t be mad at them. We just have to watch film, learn from our mistakes, and get ready for the rest of the season.”

If Texas’ defense won’t point fingers, I will. They needed help, sustained drives, points scored, and didn’t get much help. It’s tough to be on the field for nearly nine minutes more than BYU’s defense was, especially when you have to chase a quarterback as mobile as Hill is and continuously tackle Jamaal Williams (206 pounds), who rushed for 89 yards, and Adam Hine (208 pounds), and Algernon Brown (229 pounds).

One thing that Charlie Strong was visibly upset about after the game was Texas’ inability to get BYU off the field on third downs. The Cougars converted 7 of 14. Texas was 3 of 15.

All that being said there are certainly positives to take away from this defeat.

Malcom Brown is a full-grown man and could be the top defensive lineman in the Big 12. He tied Hicks with a team-high 11 tackles and had a game-high three sacks.

Hassan Ridgeway, Cedric Reed, and Caleb Bluiett all had tackles-for-loss.


Longhorns offensive line coach Joe Wickline gathered his first-team o-line in the south end zone prior to kickoff for one last gut-check.

Staring back at him was a left tackle in Marcus Hutchins who had just come over from the defensive line less than a month ago, left guard Sedrick Flowers, one of two linemen starting this game that were actually penciled in as starters prior to the season’s kickoff, center Jack Raulerson, who was starting his first game at UT, right guard Taylor Doyle, who was also starting his first game at Texas, and right tackle Kent Perkins, the other starter penciled in prior to the season’s kickoff.

Wickline whirled his hands in the air, pointing to the crowd, as if to say disregard all the negative talk surrounding this program this week, and all of those that are doubting your abilities.

He did and said what he could but the offensive line just wasn’t getting the job done on Saturday, however hard they tried.

The holes just weren’t there for Malcolm Brown and Johnathan Gray, who rushed for 28 and 47 yards respectively.

Texas continuously tried to run the ball into the teeth of BYU’s defense but to no avail. It took only one shot deep throughout the entire game, didn’t let Tyrone Swoopes keep the ball on zone reads, etc.

“We were simple. We were simple,” Texas assistant head coach for offense/QBs coach Shawn Watson said of the offensive line. “What we tried to do is put those guys in position where they could be successful. You put Ty in a position where he could create rhythm for us, which he was able to do. So do we have a lot of things to work on? Absolutely. But I’m, like I said, I’m really encouraged by what we can build from this.”

There’s no question that this line has been put in an extremely difficult position with Dominic Espinosa’s ankle injury and the suspensions to Desmond Harrison and Kennedy Estelle, who we’ve reported will miss six games.

We’d heard from Watson on Tuesday that this unit really rallied around each other after Espinosa’s season-ending ankle injury last week. But, boy, did they miss his leadership and abilities on Saturday.

And that’s not to say Raulerson didn’t play well. I actually thought he performed very admirably considering his situation, having to be the leader of that line in his first collegiate start, etc.

But you just can’t replace some of the things that Espinosa is able to bring to the field, like a calming influence on someone like Swoopes.

Like Watson said after the game, this isn’t like the NFL where you can go pick someone up off the waiver wire. Texas has to make due with what it’s got, which for the moment, includes a freshman in Jake McMillon who was brought in as a defensive lineman but found himself second-string left guard on Saturday.

But you can’t put all of Texas’ woes on the offensive line. Brown and Gray didn’t help them much.

Gray coughed up a fumble on the first play on Texas’ second drive in the second quarter, which BYU recovered at the #UT 17. Gray actually appeared to have the ball tucked away pretty nicely. It was just one hell of a play by Cougars linebacker Jherremya Leuta-Douyere.

“We talk about ball security all the time,” Charlie Strong said. “You cannot turn the ball over. We aren’t a good enough football team to turn the ball over.”

And there were cutback opportunities for Brown all night, which, of course, is easy to see from the press box. But when you understand that running up the middle isn’t working, even if the play is designed for it to be run that direction, you’ve got to be able to turn nothing into something. He didn’t.


OK, so the game got out-of-hand in the third quarter. Sure.

But back when the game was still in reach for the Longhorns, which now seems like an aberration, there were several momentum-swinging penalties that really crushed both teams at key moments.

Perhaps the most critical of Texas’ five first half penalties was a crackback block called on redshirt freshman center Jake Raulerson on UT’s second possession.

Swoopes had led the Longhorns to the BYU 13 by completing his first five passes on the drive. But Raulerson was then called for the crackback block on a third-and-three that pushed Texas back to the BYU 28 yard line.

Two plays later, after a Johnathan Gray two-yard run, Nick Rose badly missed a 43-yard field goal.

The penalties actually started earlier than that for Texas. On the opening kickoff freshman safety Jason Hall was called for a personal foul after he appeared to throw punches while on top of a BYU defender.

That negated a great return from Marcus Johnson, who had gotten all the way to the Texas 48. The Longhorns went three-and-out.

The Longhorns didn’t have but one self-inflicted penalty in the second half, but that didn’t help them stay in the game.

BYU felt the penalty blues even worse than Texas in the first half (4 for 30). It even cost the Cougars points on their second drive when a holding penalty negated a Taysom Hill 66-yard touchdown run.

BYU also had a holding penalty on a 1st-and-10 from the Texas 27. Four plays later, after three straight monster tackles from Jordan Hicks, the Cougars were forced to punt.

This could be one of the few areas of concern for Bronco Mendenhall moving forward. BYU was docked 150 yards on 15 penalties in its season-opening win over UConn and, had it faced a team with a more capable offense on Saturday, could have been kicking themselves back to Provo.

The Cougars played a much cleaner game in the second half and were only assessed two penalties.


Unless there is something going on behind the scenes that we’re not aware of I just don’t understand why Nick Jordan isn’t dressed in uniform. Don’t get it.

For the second straight week Jordan came out in his jersey (no pads) and shorts while Nick Rose went out and missed his first field goal attempt. Rose didn’t come close on his 43-yard attempt on Texas’ second possession, which would have given UT a 3-0 lead.

All the while, Jordan had his hands in his pockets on the sideline? Why not have him in uniform?

Jordan was listed No. 2 behind Rose on the depth chart and, as far as we know, was available Saturday. I’m not saying he deserves the starting job (does he?) but maybe you at least have him in uniform in case Rose completely goes off the rails?

Don’t forget Jordan as the starting place-kicker his freshman season, connecting on seven of his 10 field goals. He wasn’t going to play last season with Anthony Fera in front of him.

But maybe you at least put him in uniform? Rose’s confidence level can’t be too high at the moment.

Shawn Watson was asked if the missed field goal hurt Texas moving forward. This was his response: “I tell you what, all you can do is keep working. You can’t have that kind of demeanor to play and become a champion. You can’t. You just have to keep fighting through adversity. So the guys are going to have to get taught that by the staff. We keep our head down and keep working, because if you carry that in with you it can ruin the whole game. We’re not going to let that happen.”


I might be in the minority here, but hear me out.

I was asked a question about four-star linebacker Cameron Townsend, who was at the game, and how this might have affected his views of Texas. I actually think this might have had a positive impact on him.

If you look at what this defense was able to do for a half, with an offense of its own that had trouble moving the ball all night long, you have to think that he sees the upside in this Vance Bedford-led unit, no?

One of the main negatives he might have taken away from the game is the gameday atmosphere. It was poor. Texas’ student section was virtually empty five minutes prior to kickoff. I’m not sure if he noticed that or not considering he was sitting at a place that didn’t give him a great birds eye view of all the empty seats. If he did, that could be an issue.

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