Here are my 25 immediate thoughts after Texas' 41-7 beating by BYU ...
#1 … The Texas defense played some gutsy football for a half, holding BYU to 6 points despite the Cougars holding the ball for 11:09 of the second quarter.
The defense, however, got less and less help from the offense and special teams as the game wore on, and BYU scored 28 points in the 3Q en route to a bigger win in Austin (41-7) than in Provo last year (40-21).
#2 … The Texas offense couldn’t run the ball – 35 carries for 82 yards (2.3 ypc) – behind a MacGuyvered offensive line and showed no imagination or creativity in trying to change things up in the second half (no speed sweeps involving Marcus Johnson or Jacorey Warrick, etc).
The lack of adjustments on offense was frightening.
#3 … Tyrone Swoopes opened the game 7 of 7 passing for 72 yards and was 11 of 15 at halftime, showing signs that he can handle the stage. There were a lot of miscues. But there were positives in there.
Swoopes finished 20 of 31 passing for 176 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT. He was sacked 3 times.
He led a 13-play, 75-yard TD drive in the 3Q, capped by a 13-yard scoring pass to John Harris (UT’s leading receiver for a second straight game – 8 catches for 77 yards), helped UT avoid being shut out at home.
#4 … With no running game to help eat clock, BYU won the time of possession 34:13 to 25:47, and Texas had 8 of their 15 possessions end in 3 plays or less.
#5 … Texas collapsed in the 3Q, when BYU scored 28 points on its first four possessions as the Cougars got increasingly better field position.
- BYU’s first scoring drive of the 3Q started at its own 25;
- Second: BYU’s own 45 (after a 48-yard punt by Will Russ from UT’s 7);
- Third: Texas’ 29-yard-line (after Russ punted a low liner from UT’s 8 that BYU returned 18 yards to the UT29);
- Fourth: Texas’ 24-yard-line (after Marcus Johnson fumbled a kick return).
Repeat: The defense got less and less help from the offense and special teams as the game wore on.
#6 … Texas lost the turnover battle 4-2. BYU scored 17 points off 3 of those turnovers. And what hurt the most was the early turnovers were from some of the offense’s most trusted players.
- John Harris was stripped of the ball near midfield early in the 2Q (resulted in a punt)
- Johnathan Gray, who had 14 carries for 47 yards (3.4 ypc), fumbled on UT's 23 with 8:50 left in 2Q. That led to a BYU FG and 6-0 lead.
In a game this low-scoring and close, that was a killer and probably ate at the team’s confidence to see Gray make that mistake. This team needed Gray to make a big, positive play – not that.
- Marcus Johnson fumbled on a kick return in the 3Q, giving the ball to BYU on Texas’ 24 with 5:41 left in 3Q. BYU scored a TD four plays later for a 34-0 lead. Again, UT needed to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.
#7 … Freshman S Jason Hall's personal foul on the opening kickoff was a horrible omen for the special teams.
It negated a near 50-yard return by Marcus Johnson. Kind of surprising Hall wasn't ejected. Looked like he was throwing punches at the BYU player he was on top of.
That penalty was a killer. Instead of first-and-10 near midfield, Texas went 3-and-out from its own 18. Killer.
Mykkele Thompson grabbed Hall by the facemask when Hall got to the sideline and let him hear about it.
#8 … How not to start the second half on offense: After BYU opened the 3Q by driving it right down UT’s throat (9 plays, 75 yards) for a 13-0 lead, Texas took possession at its own 11.
Running the ball up the middle had led to nothing all night, and Texas started off that critical drive with a run up the middle (Malcolm Brown) for 1 yard.
Then, Swoopes ducked out of a near-sack by Fua (who abused Marcus Hutchins again) and instead of throwing the ball away, Swoopes ran out of bounds for a 5-yard-loss.
Texas took timeout with third-and-14 coming up from its own 7 with 10:44 left in 3Q.
Then, Swoopes threw to Marcus Johnson (well short of the sticks), but threw it behind him. Incomplete.
Russ punted out of the end zone, and BYU fair caught it at their own 45.
The Texas defense was back on the field. BYU had held the ball 20:07 compared to Texas' 14:22 at that point. Brutal.
That was the beginning of the BYU avalanche, when it was obvious the defense wasn't going to get any help.
#9 … Penalties killed the offense early in the game.
The most costly was an illegal crackback block called on Jake Raulerson when Texas had third-and-3 from the BYU 13 midway through the 1Q.
That led to third-and-18 from the BYU 28 and a 2-yard Johnathan Gray run, setting up a 43-yard FG that Nick Rose missed wide, wide, wide – not even close - right.
Texas finished with 6 penalties for 64 yards, and five of them occurred in the first half, when the outcome was still in doubt. (3 on offense; 2 on special teams; 1 on defense)
#10 … That missed FG by Nick Rose just killed Texas’ early confidence.In a game that was so low-scoring and defensive early, UT was clearly going to need a kicker who could make field goals. And Rose fell to 1-and-2 on the season (missing from 38 yards wide right last week vs UNT … and making from 34 yards last week). Not having confidence in your kicker on a team trying to win with defense is a really bad recipe. Really bad. Maybe backup kicker Nick Jordan should dress for next week's game vs UCLA.
#11 … A false start on Kent Perkins and a holding penalty on Marcus Hutchins also helped kill drives in the first half.Perkins’ false start with 13:36 left in 2Q brought up third-and-12, and then Swoopes completed a pass (short of the first down) to Harris, who was stripped of the ball by BYU's Robertson Daniel. Cougars recovered at Texas’ 49 with 13:29 left in 2Q.
#12 … Tyrone Swoopes’ first completion of the game – to John Harris on an out route for 8 yards – came with max protection (two TEs outside the tackles) and only two WRs out on routes (Harris and Jaxon Shipley). It was a sign of things to come.
#13 … A holding call on BYU negated a 66-yard TD run from Taysom Hill with 6 minutes left in the 1Q. But everyone in DKR saw Hill’s speed (and their jaws dropped) as he ran away from all of UT’s defenders.That was also a sign of things to come (Hill finished with 24 carries for 99 yards, including TD runs of 30, 2 and 1 yards).
#15 … The Texas pass rush stepped up dramatically as soon as DE Caleb Bluiett came into the game late in the 1Q and UT started rotating rushers more and more.
#16 … DE Ced Reed and DT Hassan Ridgeway nearly produced a safety when they sacked Taysom Hill at the start of the 2Q. Texas could have used those points.
#17 … Some solid punting by William Russ early – his first 4 punts went for 162 yards (40.5 ypp) with 2 dropped inside BYU's 20. But bad punting late (especially the low liner out of UT’s end zone that BYU returned to the Texas 29).
#18 … Taysom Hill should have been sacked for an 8-yard loss on second down with 13 minutes left in the 2Q, but Hill somehow twisted away from DE Bryce Cottrell and got BYU in position to go for it on fourth down (and Hill converted it, although the drive ended in no points).
#19 … After BYU drove into Texas territory midway through the 2Q, Jordan Hicks had 4 straight tackles to kill a BYU drive – the last one a 4-yard loss, forcing a punt. All of them were instinctive and PHYSICAL.
It’s amazing how important Hicks is to this defense. Can’t be overstated. Big time. Right after that stand by Hicks, one of the team’s true go-to guys – J Gray fumbled at the Texas 23. That was a killer mentally for an offense with almost no margin for error.
#20 … Shiro Davis may have seen his job slipping away (to Caleb Bluiett) when he came through with a HUGE sack of Taysom Hill on third-down, forcing a 29-yd BYU field goal putting the Cougars up 6-0 in 2Q.
Could have been much worse considering BYU started at UT's 23 after J Gray's fumble.
(The offense CAN NOT put the defense in those situations if it wants to win games any time soon.)
#21 … After BYU chopped through what looked like an understandably tired Texas D with rapid-tempo play-calling all the way to a first down from the Texas 25 with 1:51 left in the half, Charlie Strong called a smart timeout.
The Longhorns caught their breath, and Quandre The Giant came through with a HUGE interception in the end zone, ending what looked like surefire-points-on-the-way for the Cougars. Massive play.
#22 … Down 13-0, Texas suffered the back-breaker play of the game with 9:31 left in 3Q.
Taysom Hill got rocked as he threw, the ball fluttered and looked like interception bait.
Instead, WR Jordan Leslie juggled the ball twice before corralling it at Texas’ 16 between Adrian Colbert and Mykkele Thompson for a 27-yard gain.
After an incomplete pass by Hill, BYU backup RB Adam Hine then ran it in from 16 yards out for a 20-0 lead.
(Leslie's catch was the second likely SportsCenter highlight of the night for BYU, in addition to Taysom Hill hurdling Texas S Dylan Haines on Hill's way into the end zone on his 30-yard TD run early in the 3Q).
#23 … DT Malcom Brown is a grown-as* man. He finished with 11 tackles, 5 TFLs, including 3 sacks (for minus-22 yards) and a forced fumble.
#24 … Texas finished with 6 sacks. The others: Shiro Davis had 1 while Caleb Bluiett, Jordan Hicks, Steve Edmond and Ced Reed had half-sacks.
#25 … The confidence of Tyrone Swoopes and some of the key leaders on defense after the game was that of a group determined to bounce back next week at UCLA.
“With Charlie Strong as your coach, you have to bounce back,” said DT Desmond Jackson.
Swoopes showed some upside.
Texas may have found a QB it can work with. Now, the Horns just need to find an offense ... without the penalties and turnovers. And quickly.
The alternative is not a fun thing to consider.