It’s week 2 of college football! This weekend’s matchup will pit the Cougars against the Texas Longhorns. The Cougars are 2-0 against Texas, from a two game deal that was played in 1987 and 1988.
Texas, not unlike Ole Miss, was down last year. They only managed a record of 5-7, despite starting out 3-0. It was also strange to note which games the Longhorns did win – as they beat up on cupcakes like Rice and FAU, and even took down then #5 Nebraska, but failed to beat the likes of Kansas State and UCLA. Texas will never be down for long though, and they are hoping to be back on track this year. They started out the year with a more impressive win over Rice than they had last year. While the score was similar, Texas’ offense managed to roll up about 200 yards more than last year, while the Texas D held rice to one less touchdown. Still, the Texas QB, Garrett Gilbert, didn’t look very sharp, only going 13/23 passing.
BYU of course, opened the season with a win against Ole Miss. It was a come-from-behind win; in fact, the greatest come from behind win since Bronco Mendenhall became the head coach in 2005. BYU’s defense was dominant throughout the game, and especially in the fourth quarter, as the Ole Miss offense grew tired, the BYU defense was still sharp and had the ability to make the plays necessary to win the game. Not only did the defense score a touchdown, but they held the Ole Miss offense to a pair of field goals. The Cougar offense was shaky. Many plays were broken or hurried because of bad snaps, and Heaps threw many passes that were not on target, including a pick-6 that was a half a second away from being a BYU touchdown. Hopefully having the first game done with will have worked out some of the quirks for the new offense – they should look much better this Saturday.
Keys to the game
Domanation. The offense appeared to lack energy, and much of that had to do with the tempo of the play calling. BYU averaged more than 30 seconds between plays against Ole Miss. Brandon Doman admitted that he needs to step it up – and he does. Look for the Cougars to have quicker play calling, which should translate to keeping Heaps in rhythm, and keeping the defense more on its heels.
Jake Heaps. Texas is a better team than Ole Miss, and while the Texas offense may be somewhat of a question mark, the defense is not. Heaps will have to make more accurate throws than he did last week, and he may have less time to do it. Hoffman and Apo will need to do better at getting open – wherever they happen to be on the field.
The Rush Attack. JJ DiLuigi and Bryan Kariya made up most of the yards last week, because Josh Quezada had a migraine. I do hope the “Juice” is back this week, because he is a dynamic runner that could really break out some big plays. Having three guys capable of carrying the ball each play also helps keep each of them more fresh for later in the game.
Special Teams. Last week, Jacobsen and Hague averaged 26 yards per kick return, and Falslev returned one punt for 27 yards. It’s amazing to watch, and I will be excited to see if these guys can pull off some more big plays against Texas. A concern on special teams is the short to mid range kicking game. Justin Sorensen has the ability to boot the ball 60+ yards accurately, but he is very inconsistent in the short range. Last week he missed a 31 yarder. Honestly, if the game were on the line and we were in range for a short kick, I’d rather have Heaps in there throwing the ball to win the game. If Sorensen can’t improve quickly, BYU will have to look elsewhere for their short range field goals.
Bronco D. This is the area I am not worried about at all. The defense has been truly amazing since Bronco fired Jaime Hill after the Utah State game last year. Even the top rushing teams in the country struggle to reach 100 yards rushing against this defense. BYU will shut down the Texas run game and force the Longhorns to beat them through the air. There will be plenty of pressure on Garrett Gilbert though, and how he deals with that pressure will make or break the game for Texas.
This game is a toss-up. I did choose it as one of two BYU losses on my season preview, but I do feel that it could go either way. I think it will be a close game, with a big play being the deciding factor. I think Texas will be surprised at how difficult this game is for them, but I think Texas will win the game 23-17.